Without a Clue-attachment0

Without a Clue

Movie Information

In Brief: What you get with Without a Clue is a pretty good Sherlock Holmes yarn wrapped in a not so good premise — namely that Dr. Watson is the brains behind and inventor of Holmes, who in reality is a dunderheaded actor. That's mildly amusing and clever enough as far as it goes, but it's also the single basic joke in the movie. On the plus side, if you're stuck with such a premise, there are few actors more agreeable to get stuck with than Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.
Genre: Mystery-Comedy
Director: Thom Eberhardt (Night of the Comet)
Starring: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Jeffrey Hones, Lysette Anthony, Paul Freeman
Rated: PG

The premise for Without a Clue (1988) probably sounded terrific in broad strokes. Just think about it. Sherlock Holmes (Michael Caine) is really an actor hired by Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley), who is the real brains behind the detective’s success in solving crimes. Holmes himself — in reality, Reginald Kincaid — is a drunkard, a lecher, a layabout and an all-around boob. (Why Watson would recruit such a person is never addressed.) But, there must be endless avenues to go down with this, right? OK, so what are they? Whatever they are, those responsible for the film simply do not know. So in the comedy realm, what the film does — after a set-up that suggests more than it can deliver — is illustrate that Holmes is dumb, prone to getting drunk, lecherous and generally worthless again and again and again, while Watson rolls his eyes and looks exasperated again and again and again. That is, of course, until Holmes finally proves himself. The sad thing is that the preliminaries with Watson trying to stake his claim to the recognition he deserves are actually pretty good. Moreover, the mystery about Moriarty and some stolen Bank of England plates for five pound notes is pretty good. In fact, it has similarities to the final Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes film Dressed to Kill (1946). But whether it’s enough to carry the day will depend on your fondness for Caine and Kingsley — even when they aren’t given a whole lot to work with. At worst, it gets a little tedious. At best, it’s a harmless, mildly amusing diversion.

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Without a Clue Sunday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “Without a Clue

  1. Ken Hanke

    The more I think about this, the more I want to know if Jeremy finds the film funnier than I do, or if he finds it funnier than I am. You can never tell with those crafty Aussies.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.