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Without a Clue (1988)

Michael Caine , Ben Kingsley , Thom Eberhardt  |  PG |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)

Price: $49.98 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Jeffrey Jones, Lysette Anthony, Paul Freeman
  • Directors: Thom Eberhardt
  • Writers: Gary Murphy, Larry Strawther
  • Producers: Ben Moses, Diana Buckhantz, Marc Stirdivant
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: March 2, 2004
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00015HVN8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,775 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Without a Clue" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Suppose for a moment that Dr. Watson was the real brains behind Sherlock Holmes? The result is anything but elementary! Academy AwardÂ(r) winners* Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley deliver stellar performances as a delightful duo, an 1890s Odd Couple (Los Angeles Times) in this madcapmystery that's 'the most hilarious Sherlock Holmes adventure of them all ('sneak Previews )! Dr. John Watson (Kingsley) is secretly a crime-solving genius. But to protect his reputation as a physician, he hires bumbling, boozy, out-of-work actor Reginald Kincaid (Caine) to play the part of his fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes. The charade works until Watson mysteriously disappears, forcing the baffled, seriously inept Holmes to crack the biggest case of Watson's career on his own! *Caine: Supporting Actor, The Cider House Rules (1999); Supporting Actor, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986); Kingsley: Actor, Gandhi (1982)

Without a Clue is an underrated comedy featuring stellar teamwork by two great actors, Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. This Sherlock Holmes pastiche with a twist stars Kingsley as physician, writer, and self-effacing super-sleuth Dr. John Watson, who channels his genius for deduction into lucrative stories about Holmes. Watson wants the world to believe the fictional private eye actually exists, posing a problem when a steady stream of troubled souls come seeking Holmes's help. The doctor's prescription: hire a two-bit, drunken, skirt-chasing actor (Caine) to portray the Great Detective, an arrangement that causes Watson consternation whenever "Holmes" tries to improvise his way through a case. Wonderful comic timing and tension make Without a Clue a delight; Caine, particularly, gets a lot of mileage out of the faux Holmes's grand efforts to appear a genius. Henry Mancini's score adds a touch of old Hollywood gloss, and Thom Eberhardt (Night of the Comet) directs. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
94 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I've got it! His real name is Arty-Morti!" March 12, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Without a Clue (1988) poses an interesting and humorous take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The film asks what if the character of Sherlock Holmes was truly a fictional character created by Doctor Watson, and is played by an actor, with Watson being the actual mastermind behind solving the various cases and crimes?

In the film, Ben Kingsley plays Doctor Watson, the man behind the deductive and crime solving skills of his fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. For reasons that are revealed within the movie, Watson was not able to take credit for solving his first caper, so he invented the character of Sherlock Holmes, but soon found his creation was in great demand, so he hired an actor, Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the part of the detective while Watson stayed in the background continuing to be the 'brains' of the operation. Only problem is Reginald Kincaid is a buffoonish, womanizing, gambling, drunkard, and unable to, as he put it, '...detect horse manure if he stepped in it.' After a falling out, Doctor Watson fires Kincaid, and decides to go it alone as 'The Crime Doctor'. Guess what? The legend of Holmes has grown so large and become ensconced so deeply within the public psyche that no one takes Watson seriously, and even his publisher threatens to sue if Watson reveals the truth of the situation publicly. Not only that, but a rather important case involving the financial integrity of the British Empire has surfaced, one involving the nefarious Professor Moriarty, and Holmes is the only man for the job. Watson finds himself in the humbling position of bringing Kincaid back for what will be one last performance.
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Sherlock Holmes" Movie With a Twist August 24, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
You don't have to be an avid reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to enjoy "Without a Clue". If you are at all familiar with this legendary character, you will most likely enjoy this fun, tongue-in-cheek look at what it would be like if Holmes was actually the apprentice of Watson. Michael Caine plays the role of a down-on-his luck actor who is hired by Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley) to play the role of the greatest Detective the world has ever seen (Sherlock Holmes). The only trouble is, "Holmes" can't seem to stop his drinking, gambling, and womanizing; nor does he have a shred of deductive reasoning skills. The story is clever and original, and the performances are fabulous. Michael Caine plays the loveable doofus to perfection and Ben Kingsley wonderfully displays Watson's constant frustrations at Caine's ineptness. The movie is fun, good natured, and genuinely funny. It's a shame it wasn't well received by audiences when it was released in 1988 (I actually remember seeing it in the theater). I would highly recommend this movie.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Funny Holmes Pastiche, Worth Having October 18, 2004
Dr. Watson has a problem. He's always been the brains behind Sherlock Holmes, a fictional character he dreamed up as cover for the cases he has solved. He even hired a third-rate ham actor, Reginald Kincaid, to impersonate Holmes. But now he's fed up with the fatuous dimwit Kincaid whom everyone is fascinated by and who seems to believe his own notices. He longs to be known as John Watson, Crime Doctor, and to receive the recognition due him for his amazing deductive powers.

That's the set up, and it's a funny one, especially with two first-rate actors as Ben Kingsley playing Watson and Michael Caine playing Kincaid. Watson finally boots out Kincaid and decides to solve a case as himself...but no one is prepared to take Dr. Watson seriously as a detective, even his publisher. Plates for 5-pound notes are stolen from the Royal Mint, the powers of England want Holmes on the case, Watson finds he may need Kincaid after all, and the game's afoot.

Caine makes a spectacular dimwit who finally and inadvertently comes through. Kingsley combines frustration and resentment in a performance that is funny and believable. They both learn something about friendship.

The movie has its weaknesses. It goes on a bit, the climax is workmanlike, and it's essentially a one-joke premise. It still, however, is a very nice, amusing movie, especially if you're a fan of Holmes pastiches. If you're stuffy about Holmes and the sacred canon, well, you may not find this suitable. I thought it was great fun.

The DVD transfer is nothing special but good enough.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a delight! July 1, 2004
Although I'm a lover of Sherlock Holmes movies, I almost missed this gem. Everything about this film was wonderful, particularly the tremendous performances by Caine and Kingsley. You can see they're having fun with it every scene, and I loved being along for the ride.
The script is intelligent and witty, without getting goofy or slapstick. The plot is hilarious yet holds together as a "mystery" (kind of...). It is totally devoid of the offensive language that plagues so many movies, making it a great family fun flick (but it's NOT at all juvenile).
I just wish they'd made a series of these films -- I didn't want it to end.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The reviewers who have said you don't have to be a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast who is familiar with the Holmes stories to enjoy this film are exactly right. I don't generally give in to hyperbole when reviewing a movie, so I won't go overboard with superlatives here, suffice to say that this is a charming, delightful and VERY funny satire! It really is. If you are reading this review and have never heard of this movie, or have heard of it but never got around to watching it because it didn't get rave reviews, don't let that deter you any longer! Buy or rent this movie and you will not be disappointed, I'm willing to bet.

The plotline and background of the film have already been reviewed here, so I won't repeat them. I will say that I first began watching this movie with luke warm hopes that I would enjoy it, but boy, did I enjoy it! The time flew by and I laughed almost all the way through it. Usually, movies with so many in-jokes, visual humor and tongue-in-cheek one-liners will have several jokes that fall flat, but very few, if any, do here.

The character of Mrs. Hudson has a prominent role in this film, and it turns out to be a blessing, as Pat Keen played the role to the hilt. Her comedic portrayal of the proper and sometimes haughty Mrs. Hudson of the books was hysterical! (Oops! Some unintended hyperbole there! Well, what the heck, she really was extremely funny and I was impressed at just how engaging Ms. Keen really is! I had never heard of her before this movie and I found myself searching online for roles she has had in other films.)

I give this five stars. Admittedly, I am a huge Holmes fan, but my girlfriend is not and when I loaned this movie to her, she returned it to me saying that she thought it was great.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good price
Published 27 days ago by gary tashro
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this old movie
Love this old movie. Very clever take on the old Sherlock Holmes story. Don't let anyone who has already seen it tell you anything until you've seen the first 15 minutes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by kwb
5.0 out of 5 stars We want this available on DVD in the USA
Brilliant script and brilliant chemistry between Caine and Kingsley My family all love this movie! Even after 20 years we still quote lines and sing the wonderful "Where did... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Laura Griggs
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Fun Movie!
This is such a fun movie in so many ways! Dr. Watson is the brain, and Sherlock Holmes is a front actor only. Michael Caine does the part excellently. Dr. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Karen the Nurse
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I didn't like it, but my hubbie did.
Published 2 months ago by Maura Mac
3.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you order the proper format for your region
Mistakenly ordered the European (PAL format) instead of the U.S. (NTSC). But I have seen the movie before, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 3 months ago by J Scott Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh-out-loud funny
Not knowing what to expect, I discovered this movie was absolutely hilarious and I highly recommend it for an evening of laughs at the sight gags.
Published 4 months ago by F.L. Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes fans, get in line!
Two peerless British actors going head to head as Sherlock and Watson, and one of them the ubiquitous Michael Caine, an actor who can do almost anything. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Alice4447
1.0 out of 5 stars dvd without a clue
the above mentioned was not able to be played in the united states of America so I was not happy
Published 6 months ago by Bonnie Knox
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious & Witty. A perfect spoof of Sherlock Holmes
Firstly, the highest praise goes to Gary Murphy and Larry Strawther for writing an absolutely brilliant and entertaining script that while completely lampooning the Holmes... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Robert K.
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