Clue: Collector's Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jan 09, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Clue: Collector's Edition (4K UHD Review)


Jonathan Lynn

Release Date(s)

1985 (December 12, 2023)


Paramount Pictures (Shout Select/Shout! Studios)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: C

Clue (4K UHD)



The fate that befell the highly undervalued Clue when it hit theaters in 1985 was almost assured due to the fact that Paramount Pictures tried and failed to market a film that would have a different ending each time you saw it. Had all of those involved relied more on the comedy and the murder mystery of it all instead of relying on a gimmick, but also given audiences all three endings in one sitting as it was presented on home video, it might have fared a little bit better financially. In truth, the filmmakers did about the best job they could in making a movie out of a board game, and in subsequent years, others have tried with other similar properties and never really succeeded. Meanwhile, Clue continues to have major cult appeal, thanks in no small part to its ensemble cast, but also because murder mysteries with comedic bents almost always outlast their box office parameters.

The game is afoot. In a dark and gloomy mansion during a thunderstorm, six strangers using pseudonyms have been assembled: Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull), Miss Scarlett (Lesley Ann Warren), Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), and Mr. Green (Michael McKean). Under the eyes of the butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry), the maid Yvette (Colleen Camp), and the cook Mrs. Ho (Kelley Nakahara), dinner is prepared and served. This is soon followed by the appearance of a Mr. Boddy (Lee Ving), whom is revealed to be a blackmailer, using his knowledge to extort money from everyone present. Threatening to expose everyone to the press if he’s arrested, he instead offers up six weapons: a candlestick, a rope, a lead pipe, a wrench, a revolver, and a knife, and attempts to convince them all that killing Wadsworth will keep things quiet. As he turns out the lights and gives them the opportunity, his plan backfires and he’s killed instead, and it’s now a matter of deciding the obvious: whodunit.

I’ve personally been a fan of Clue since I was a child, and it’s one of those films that I’ve found more to appreciate about it the older I’ve gotten. At first I was attracted to its genre trappings, but then I later rediscovered and found more to the excellent performances, the production design, and the score by Mel Brooks’ favorite John Morris. All are top of the line, and it’s a shame that much of it is overlooked by the initial failed gimmick. One look need no further than everything Madeline Kahn says and does, even when she’s not speaking. The biggest draw is, of course, the great Tim Curry, who generates crossover appeal thanks to his amazing, gender-bending performance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Others are also not to be overlooked, including the late Eileen Brennan and Lesley Ann Warren. Clue’s director, Jonathan Lynn, would go on to his biggest commercial success, My Cousin Vinny, but it’s safe to say that Clue is perhaps his most beloved project, co-writing the script for it and making it his own.

Clue moves at a steady pace, increasing during the extended conclusion, and taking inspiration from the Howard Hawks classic His Girl Friday. The story takes place in the 1950s and dips into red scare paranoia—rampant at that time in political circles—which the story takes full advantage of. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about the comedy as a lot of it is made up of slapstick, non sequiturs, and absurdities. As such, the subjectiveness of how effective it is depends on the individual viewer. Indeed, critics weren’t fully on board with Clue upon its release, but thankfully, audiences eventually found the film on home video and many appreciated its somewhat sophisticated yet broad appeal. It’s a silly but fun comedy that has much more going for it than many would lead you to believe.

Clue was shot by cinematographer Victor J. Kemper on 35mm film using Panavision cameras and lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The film debuts on Ultra HD as part of the Shout Select line of titles from Shout! Studios sourced from a new 2023 4K scan of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included), and presented on a BD-100 disc. As with previous releases, all four versions of the film are included. You may view the home video version containing all three endings, or select the option to randomly play the film with one of the endings via seamless branching. The switch is fairly seamless, though at the beginning of the third ending, you can still hear the faintest sounds of Wadsworth turning the electricity back on, almost as if he turned it on twice. There’s also a very minor skip at the beginning of the end credits when each ending concludes, but it’s hardly noticeable.

As this is a dark, textured film with lots of deep shadows, the bit rate tends to run a bit lower than many UHD discs, primarily sitting somewhere between the upper 60s and the upper 70s, spiking during detail-heavier moments. As such, the detail is definitely boosted over the previous Blu-ray presentation and everything appears organic and film-like, with the quality dipping only during transitions, of which there are few. The color palette is aided dutifully thanks to the new HDR grades. They’re by no means dramatic, but they do enhance film’s limited, but no less concentrated palette of reds, browns, golds, and greens. Blacks can mistakenly appear crushed based upon one’s own HDR settings, but all is as it should be in terms of fine detail. Everything is clean and stable with no real flaws to speak of. It’s a more tightly-knitted presentation with natural grain that can occasionally appear thick, and there are many moments where aspects of the production design, especially in the far background, are more prominent with added depth. As such, it’s the best the film has ever looked on home video.

Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. For a mono-based experience, the soundtrack is very full-bodied with plenty of room for John Morris’ fabulous score and occasional sound effects, such as thunderclaps, gongs, gunshots, and glass breaking. Thanks to the boost in visual quality, much of the ADR is more obvious than before, and there’s a minor amount of digital noise in the left speaker at 54:25 and 54:26 (which is also present on the Blu-ray included in this release, meaning that it’s a glitch in the master itself). Other than that, it’s a very solid soundtrack.

Clue on 4K UHD sits in a black amaray case alongside a 1080p Blu-ray with an insert featuring the original theatrical artwork (reversible artwork that included the home video artwork would have been welcome, but oh well). The following extras are included on the Blu-ray only:

  • The Perfect Motive: Directing Clue (27:47)
  • Scene of the Crime: Producing Clue (22:04)
  • Not Just a Game: Scoring Clue (9:07)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:34)

They’re unfortunately brief and not very encompassing, despite being produced by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, whom very well could have been limited in what could be done with them. None of the deleted scenes or the cut fourth ending are present, though I’m told by disc producer Brian Ward that every effort was made to locate them with no success. And though the film’s trailer is included, none of the TV spots or behind-the-scenes photos are included. It’s worth noting also that one of Kevin Smith’s podcast included a commentary for the film with Jonathan Lynn and a die-hard fan of the film. There’s also various behind-the-scenes material floating around on Youtube, including an Entertainment Tonight on-set visit containing interviews with cast and crew. Nothing mind-blowing, of course, but still worth mentioning.

What we do get are three brief interviews and the film’s trailer, the latter of which teases a couple of deleted pieces of material. Two of the interviews were recorded via Skype/Zoom. The first features writer and director Jonathan Lynn, who briefly talks about the making of the film and its longevity. The second features associate producer and unit production manager Jeffrey Chernov, who details working with producer Debra Hill and learning much about film sets at a young age. The last interview features film music historian Daniel Schweiger quickly discussing the work of composer John Morris and highlighting some of his favorite moments in the score. These interviews are very light and, unfortunately, contain mostly footage from the film to pad out the running times, but they do offer some tantalizing and many never-before-seen behind-the-scenes and promotional photos from Jonathan Lynn’s personal archive, including a character photo that features everybody from the cast, and not just the key players (a lovely little Easter egg).

Clue makes the leap to 4K UHD with a strong video presentation, even if the extras are not exactly what fans have longed for. An amateur documentary released by ETR Media on Blu-ray exists called Who Done It: The Clue Documentary (which I personally found disappointing), but perhaps there’s a much more lavish release of the film on home video in the offing. Still, one must appreciate the effort here as it previously had no bonus materials included with it, aside from the trailer. It looks and sounds good, and for 4K UHD, that’s why we show up.

- Tim Salmons

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