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Michael Caine plays Milo Tindle, a lowborn, cheeky hairdresser called down from London to visit Andrew Wyke on his rambling country estate. Andrew, played by Sir Laurence Olivier, is a class conscious, game-addicted, petty snob who writes award-winning detective stories. Milo also happens to be having an affair with Andrew's wife, Marguerite. On the other hand, Andrew is currently dallying with a local masseuse, Téa. Both men have cash flow problems. Milo hasn't enough to keep Marguerite in the lifestyle to which she's become accustomed, and Andrew has been beggared by ruinous British taxes. So, Andrew, being a self-proclaimed expert on crime whose literary detective creation, Lord Merrydew, always manages to make the official constabulary look like fools, invites Milo to join him in a mutually lucrative scam. The Plan: a suitably costumed Milo will "burgle" jewelry from Andrew's safe, fence it for an enormous sum, and be free to marry Marguerite, while Andrew happily collects the insurance money and enjoys his Siren of the moment. Andrew is not completely happy about his wife's adultery, but, after all, true gentleman can come to some convenient arrangement. Quite right!
Thus begins an intricate series of role-within-role-playing games played magnificently by these two phenomenal English actors. From the viewers' perspective, the challenge is to determine when the make-believe ends and real life reasserts itself. Thus, not only is SLEUTH an absorbing mystery story, but the roles within roles also create a resounding paean to the profession of acting. After SLEUTH, I don't think it was quite so cleverly done until 1997's FACE-OFF.Read more ›
The tag line "Think of the perfect crime...then go one step further" describes exactly what the movie is all about. Olivier plays Andrew Wyke, an eccentric and revered mystery writer invites Milo Tindle (Caine) over to his mansion over a weekend in order to discuss the terms of his affair with his wife. Wyke is known as a lover of toys, games, and deviously cunning games of trickery that he plays on people. Wyke has known for some time that Tindle has been having an affair with his wife, and that he intends to marry her. Wyke sees an opportunity to unload his wife, without the possibility of her coming back and getting deeper into his pocketbook. Knowing him to be broke, Wyke proposes to Tindle a robbery scheme that will solve both of their problems. Things got a bit awry. What happens next would be criminal to give away, but it is one of the most brilliantly crafted farces I have ever seen in a movie.
"Sleuth" was adapted from the stage play by Anthony Shaffer, and it plays out very much like the play itself. There is one setting, two actors, and lots of dialogue. It works very well, because it wasn't overdone in production. I cannot see how this could have worked with a more elaborate setting or cast. What carries the movie are the performances by Caine and Olivier, which ranks among their personal best (and picking ones from such distinguished careers is hard).Read more ›
The newer release has a BLACK cover and boasts a much improved transfer. (Just compare the vibrancy of the colors in the film to the muted colors in the unrestored trailers to see what I mean.) In addition to putting the whole film on one side of the disc, Anchor Bay also included an extensive and fairly interesting interview with writer Anthony Shaffer. This version is probably definitive -- and certainly the one to buy.
Apparently, however, Anchor Bay is going to let this release go out of print, too. (It has disappeared from their online catalogue.) So buy this quickly if you have any interest in it at all. I can't imagine any other company giving this film a better overall treatment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie is an old favorite of mine. I am not much into "who dunnits" but this one is great!Published 20 days ago by David A. Coyle
Suspect that this may be somekind of bootleg copy. No Copyright warning at the start, no menus, no nothing. The mvie just begins when you insert the disc. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael Maxa
One of the most suspenseful I've ever seen. Never guess the ending.Published 1 month ago by D. L. Ritchey
An amazing movie that I remember from way back when. This movie is over two hours long and riveting all the way, except for the end, which was a letdown for me. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Blue Dog
This is a stellar film that I have waited for many years to get on DVD. Witty dialogue, perfect casting, great direction -- what's not to love? Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kristine S. Woeckener
This import from Umbrella (ASIN: B019H4MP2U) is absolutely the best version ever! I kept hearing delightful lines of dialogue that I hadn't remembered from previous viewings... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Paul F.
Terrific old movie, very glad it's available again. I was a little concerned about whether this one would work in my U.S. DVD player, but it played perfectly. Read morePublished 4 months ago by trustmeonthis
A Caine/Olivier tour de force, a duo of impeccable delight - but what is it all about?
Olivier plays a well-to-do middle-aged author living in a mansion to which he... Read more