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My idiot Holmes My idiot Holmes
by Asa Butcher
Issue 12
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Information
Film
Without a Clue
Thom Eberhardt
1988
In issue eleven, I reviewed The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and explained how refreshing it was to finally read the original material, upon which so many parodies have been made. Therefore, in this issue I could not resist reviewing one of the best parodies of Holmes that I have ever seen.

Without a Clue turns Conan Doyle's detective on its head, or as the movie's tagline proclaims, 'The outrageous comedy about the world's greatest detective and his bumbling partner...Sherlock Holmes.' A simple premise: Dr. Watson has the brains and deduction skills, while Holmes is a drunken womanizing actor hired to play the role.

Vultures would have circling over this idea if it had not been for an amazing cast and hilarious script. Credit goes foremost to Oscar winners Ben Kingsley as Dr. John Watson and Michael Caine as Sherlock Holmes/Reginald Kincaid. They are perfectly cast as the topsy-turvy duo and they have more chemistry than a school science lab.

Naturally, the majority of the film has them together and they provide some brilliant exchanges that can't stop you from laughing loudly:

Sherlock Holmes: Ah, now, now, we know for a fact that Giles was on the boat. Dr. Watson: No, we don't.
Sherlock Holmes: Oh. Well, we do know for a fact that Giles arrived in Windermere. Dr. Watson: No he didn't.
Sherlock Holmes: (He didn't? I thought he did.) Ah. Well, we really know that Giles was behind the theft of the printing plates.
Dr. Watson: No, he wasn't.

The sparkling interaction between Kingsley and Caine never stops, and it gets even better when Inspector Lestrade, played by the excellent Jeffrey Jones, becomes involved. Lestrade is a character from the original novels and he is the downtrodden detective from Scotland Yard, who finds himself beaten my Holmes every time, but is given the credit for solving the mysteries.

Jeffrey Jones is one of those actors whom we all love when he is on-screen, forget once the credits roll and is unlikely to ever win a Best Actor Oscar, but he always brings something different to his roles. Whether it is Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow or Beetle Juice, he is an excellent actor in my opinion and deserves more recognition for his talents. Jones also delivers one of my favourite lines from the movie: 'Half a tick, Mr. Holmes. Ye can't go walkin' into someone's residence, pokin' about their personal possessions, disruptin' their privacy... That's for Scotland Yard.'

The plot to Without a Clue is second-place to the characters and almost passes unnoticed; however, it does involve some fiendish plot by Professor James Moriarty (Paul Freeman) and a number of other Conan Doyle elements. Hopefully Holmes' creator didn't cringe too much while Dr. Watson was introducing his new idea for the Crime Doctor to The Strand's editor played by Peter Cook. In the final credits, this does appear: 'With apologies to the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.'

It does not matter whether you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or not, this entertaining film should be watched if only for its top class cast. Oh, and the scene with Sherlock Holmes being asked to examine a body that has been dragged from a lake is priceless.
  
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