CLOSE

13 Mysterious Facts About Clue

These days, no one is shocked when Hollywood announces they’ll try to make a movie based on a toy, let alone a board game. But that wasn’t the case 30 years ago, when Clue and its many mysteries hit theaters. Time’s been kind to this odd little gem of a movie, though, thanks to an ever-growing cult following and the ability to watch all three of its alternate endings at once. So, in honor of three decades of candlesticks, falling chandeliers, and flames on the sides of our faces, here are 13 fun facts about the film.

1. JOHN LANDIS WAS THE ORIGINAL DIRECTOR.

An American Werewolf in London director John Landis crafted the original premise for Clue—a group of strangers, all being blackmailed, stuck in a mansion as a murder mystery unfolds around them—and initially planned to direct it himself. After commissioning Jonathan Lynn—at the time a Hollywood unknown best known for British TV work like Yes Minister—to write the screenplay, Landis decided to direct the Chevy Chase/Dan Aykroyd comedy Spies Likes Us instead, leaving Clue without a director. Impressed by Lynn’s background in theater, Landis suggested that he direct the film.

“He worked so hard and he was passionate about it,” said Landis. “He had this amazing [theater] background, and I thought, ‘Gee, you know, why don’t you do it, because it will be more than a year before I’m even available.’”

2. LANDIS WANTED TOM STOPPARD TO WRITE THE SCRIPT.

Though Landis had the initial framework for the film in place, what he didn’t have was an actual solution to the mystery, so he set out to get a “real writer,” and approached famed playwright Tom Stoppard. Stoppard worked for a year on the script before giving up and returning his paycheck, so Landis went to the great Stephen Sondheim (Into the Woods) and Psycho star Anthony Perkins, who’d previously collaborated on the mystery film The Last of Sheila. They turned the job down, and after a few more writers, Landis found Lynn.

3. CARRIE FISHER WAS THE ORIGINAL MISS SCARLET.

In the film’s original cast, its biggest star was Carrie Fisher. Days before she was supposed to show up for rehearsals, though, Fisher entered rehab. At the time, Lynn and Fisher both hoped she could work out a schedule that would allow her to receive treatment and do the film at the same time, but Clue’s insurers were having none of that, so the role of Miss Scarlet went to Lesley Ann Warren instead.

4. TIM CURRY WAS THE THIRD CHOICE FOR WADSWORTH THE BUTLER.

When considering who would play the butler at the center of the story, Lynn initially wanted Leonard Rossiter (Barry Lyndon), who at the time was starring in a London production of Loot that Lynn was also involved in. Unfortunately, Rossiter died on October 5, 1984 (he passed away in his dressing room while preparing to go on stage for a performance of Loot). Lynn then turned to Rowan Atkinson, who had just broken through with his British comedy Blackadder, but the studio wasn’t interested. Finally, the role went to Tim Curry, a former schoolmate of Lynn’s who already had his The Rocky Horror Picture Show credibility.

5. COLLEEN CAMP HAD TO FIGHT HARD FOR THE ROLE OF YVETTE.

According to Colleen Camp, the role of Yvette the maid was a coveted one in Hollywood, and everyone from Jennifer Jason Leigh to Madonna was interested in the part. Determined to win it for herself, Camp showed up to her audition in a rented maid’s outfit, and won the role.

6. MRS. WHITE’S ROLE GOT LARGER WHEN MADELINE KAHN CAME ABOARD.

According to Lynn, the role of Mrs. White was “underwritten” in the first draft of the script. When comedy legend Madeline Kahn—famous for the duel triumphs of Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles—became interesting in the part, Lynn went back and expanded the role.

7. THE DIALOGUE PACING WAS INSPIRED BY HIS GIRL FRIDAY.

Lynn set the film in New England in 1954, deliberately recalling tones of old Hollywood, and he wanted his cast to keep that in mind. Before they started shooting, Lynn screened for his cast the classic Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell film His Girl Friday, a film famous for its rapid-fire dialogue.

“He wanted us all to have that cadence, that very clipped, quick delivery on our lines,” Lesley Ann Warren recalled.

8. THE CHARACTERS' CARS MATCH THEIR NAMES.

Each of the main characters’ classic cars reflects the color given in their name. So when we first see Miss Scarlet, she’s by the side of the road next to a red car, then Professor Plum gets a plum-colored car, Colonel Mustard’s car is yellow, Mrs. Peacock’s is blue, and so on.

9. LESLEY ANN WARREN’S CORSET WAS SO TIGHT, SHE COULDN’T SIT DOWN.

Because Miss Scarlet’s dress was so tight, and costume designer Michael Kaplan dressed her in boned corsets, Lesley Ann Warren had difficulty sitting down while in costume, or really moving much at all. While the rest of the cast was enjoying games of pool in the billiard room, she was leaning against a board.

"To rest in that dress was a challenge, so they had slant boards,” Warren said. “It’s a diagonal board that one can lean against. It’s not uncomfortable, and there’re armrests, but you can’t sit down all that much. I spent a lot of time there. I didn’t play pool.”

10. THE FILM’S MOST FAMOUS SPEECH WAS IMPROVISED.

Lynn was not a fan of improvisation, and wanted his actors to stick to his script. One star in particular wasn’t a big fan of that, though: Madeline Kahn. So when Mrs. White is supposed to talk about how much she hated Yvette, Kahn lets loose a riff involving “flames” on the side of her face, and it was so good it just had to stay in the movie.

“All that was written was, ‘I hated her so much that I wanted to kill her,’ or something like that,” co-star Michael McKean said. “But she just kind of went into a fugue about hatred. She did it three or four times, and each time was funnier than the last.”

11. YOU MAY RECOGNIZE THE SINGING TELEGRAM GIRL AS A GO-GO.

YouTube

The Singing Telegram Girl, who only has a few seconds of (living) screen time in the film, wasn’t known as an actress at the time, but she was already a success in the music business. That’s right, it’s Go-Gos guitarist Jane Wiedlin, in her first film role.

12. THERE WAS ORIGINALLY A FOURTH ALTERNATE ENDING.

Clue famously features three different solutions to the mystery, and they originally played in different theaters across the country (which is part of the reason why the film was a box office flop; no one knew which version to see). In the planning stages of the film, though, John Landis wanted four endings, one of which was eventually scripted and later scrapped by Lynn because it just wasn’t working. So, what was it? Well, Lynn claims he doesn’t remember, but the original movie storybook says it involved a scheme by Wadsworth to poison everyone.

13. THE MOVIE GOT ITS OWN PSYCH TRIBUTE EPISODE.

For its 100th episode, the mystery-comedy series Psych staged a Clue tribute in which various people are murder suspects inside a mansion. Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, and Lesley Ann Warren all appeared in the episode.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
arrow
science
Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Nervous System
arrow
Art
Every Laser-Cut 'Geode' Jigsaw Puzzle is One of a Kind
Nervous System
Nervous System

If you haven’t picked up a boxed jigsaw puzzle in a while, trust that they’ve undergone a serious transformation since your childhood. One of the most innovative companies in the category is Nervous System, a self-described “generative design studio” that composes computer programs to create puzzles based on patterns found in nature.

Their latest project, Geode, is a line of jigsaw puzzles modeled after agate stone. Like the rest of Nervous System’s puzzle inventory, it has an unusual and dynamic design; it's meant to mimic the band pattern of actual agate created by trapped gas in volcanic stone.

Several geode puzzles are shown
Nervous System

According to Nervous System’s site: “To create the organic shape of the pieces, we designed a system based the simulation of dendritic solidification, a crystal growth process similar to the formation of snowflakes that occurs in supercooled solutions of certain metallic alloys. By varying the parameter space, the system can produce a variety of cut styles. Each puzzle produced features its own unique landscape of interlocking shapes. No two are alike.”

Though lovely to look at, the puzzles utilize Nervous System's "Maze" piece-cutting method, which results in irregular and distorted shapes that may prove "fiendishly difficult" for some.

The 8.5-inch puzzles are made from plywood and feature 180 pieces. You can grab one for $60 at Nervous System’s online shop.

[h/t MyModernMet]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios