Today we’re going to throwback to Clue (1985), which we’ve touched on in very general ways over the years, but never really talked much about the costumes in depth. And unlike Trystan and Kendra, who weren’t wowed enough to watch the film and write a post about it, I actually really love this film and have spent A LOT of time obsessing over the costumes.
For those who may have been living under a rock for the last 40 years, Clue is a combination of tribute/parody of 1950s dinner party murder mysteries and takes direction from the classic board game, Clue (or Cluedo, for the Brits). Set in 1954, the characters are summoned to a mysterious old mansion for a dinner party which quickly turns into a mystery as characters begin turning up murdered. One of the most well-known aspects of the film is taken from the game — all the characters are named after colors, animals, or food.
Director Jonathan Lynn didn’t want the characters dressed in the colors reflected in their various names, so costume designer Michael Kaplan decided to focus on the “emotional impact of the colors” such as placing Lesley Ann Warren in a vibrant green as the sexy redheaded Miss Scarlet, or a mysterious black dress for Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White, who is a widow and suspected in the death all five of her husbands. Lynn points out that the characters are all given aliases, so this was a tactical approach to the plot that is often overlooked by audiences.
“I try to make clothes interesting for the moviegoer and Eileen Brennan was playing the character in a very nervous way. I gave her a hat that had very little tiny features on it and whenever she would move the feathers would keep swaying … We still wanted to give them clothes that captured the essence of their name even though we weren’t being very literal about it.”
So, whodunnit? Well, that depends entirely on which of the three endings you saw, if you saw it in the theaters when it was first released. That said, all three endings are now included in the home theater releases (pretty sure my VHS copy from the early-1990s has all three endings) but during the original theatrical run, the different endings were shown either regionally or on different showings. It’s a fun bit of trivia for this cult classic that I think still holds up beautifully, especially Michael Kaplan’s fabulous costumes.
Which ending of Clue (1985) is your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments!