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Sleuth – 1972
Think of the perfect crime… then go one step further.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Anthony Shaffer (play)
Anthony Shaffer (screenplay)

Morton Gottlieb producer
David Middlemas associate producer
Edgar J. Scherick executive producer

Laurence Olivier – Andrew Wyke
Michael Caine – Milo Tindle
Alec Cawthorne – Inspector Doppler
John Matthews – Detective Sergeant Tarrant
Eve Channing – Marguerite Wyke
Teddy Martin – Police Constable Higgs

Milo Tindle and Andrew Wyke have something in common, Andrew’s wife. In an attempt to find a way out of this without costing Andrew a fortune in alimony, he suggests Milo pretend to rob his house and let him claim the insurance on the stolen jewellery. The problem is that they don’t really like each other and each cannot avoid the zinger on the other. The plot has many shifts in which the advantage shifts between Milo and Andrew.

Review by Noel Baily

The ultimate “thinking persons” movie
When Britain does it right….no one can come close to it! This was just such a movie. A filmed version of Anthony Shaffer’s own wonderful stage play, the brilliance needed to sustain 138 minutes attention between just two people in three or four rooms of a single house – should not be underestimated. Olivier is in his element as the upper crust land-owner who invites Alfie-esque hairdresser Caine to his mansion, simply to acknowledge his wife’s infidelity with him and to inform Caine that he is messing with the wrong guy.

The dialog driven plot is probably beyond the grasp of most younger viewers, but is a veritable revelation for those seeking to be entertained on a grand scale. As important a player as anyone else, the house itself and its many wondrous artifacts are simply stunning. How the tables are turned and the roles reversed? Without doubt, one of the greatest films ever made.

As for Alex Cawthorne’s stunning performance as Inspector Doppler, what can I say? Its almost as if he wasn’t there!

Sleuth (1972)

Review by Wayne Malin

Dull and WAY overpraised,
A man (Michael Caine) wants the wife of a famous mystery writer named Andrew Wyke (Sir Laurence Olivier) and goes to his huge remote estate to ask for her. He finds Wyke eager for him to take his wife…or does he? Then an elaborate (and plodding) game of cat and mouse begins.

Why this is so acclaimed is beyond me. I’m not a young kid (I’m 45) and I usually find talky movies downright fascinating (“Rope” and “My Dinner With Andre” are two great examples) but I was bored silly by this. It moves WAY too slowly and I didn’t find the characters or their dialogue even remotely interesting. Olivier constantly keeps digressing to the point where I just wanted to hit him. Caine just walks around looking confused. The twists at the end are good but by that point I was so bored I could have cared less.

I actually dozed off for a few minutes! The acting does help. I’ve never been too impressed by Olivier as an actor–in the Shakespeare films and “Wuthering Heights” he seems unable to change expression. However he was good here. He chews the scenery and goes roaring through his role. But, as I said before, he’s constantly going off the subject and getting into these little speeches that quickly got annoying. Caine is a wonderful actor but he looks a little out of his depth here. He was excellent at the end though. The production design is incredible–Wyke’s mansion is just incredible. Still I found this slow and boring.

This might have worked on stage but it certainly doesn’t transfer to film. I can only give this a 4.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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