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As someone who works from home, I’ve gotten remarkably good at ignoring possible distractions. There’s a taco truck parked outside my building? Eh. I really don’t need more food. The original Total Recall is on one of the pay movie channels? I’ll DVR that shit for later. But Clue? I can’t ever say no to Clue. It’s a weapons closet of joy rolled up in delicious blackmail secrets and topped with pretty and jagged chandelier pieces. Its pull always sucks me in like the wafting aroma of monkeys’ brains.
Today was no different. I was going about my business when I noticed my DVD copy out of the corner of my eye. I’ll just drop it in and watch it in the background, I thought. Fail. Ninety-six frenetic and brilliant minutes later, I’m now compelled to sit down and plow through a complete ordered list of every single character in Clue who isn’t a cop standing around in the background of the last scene.
That’s the serious upshot of making a movie confined to an old creepy mansion, the outside of said old creepy mansion and the old creepy road leading up to said old creepy mansion. You get to know everyone pretty damn well. By my count, there are fourteen people we should care about in some fashion; so, without further ado, here’s how I would order them in terms of my own personal vague definition of greatness…
Warning: This article contains every spoiler imaginable about the movie Clue. If you have not seen it, please find a friend with good taste (he or she will own a copy) and spend your evening watching it. You can thank me later.
#14) The MotoristPros: Military Experience, A Classic Hat
Cons: Unreliable Car, Needy
How He Fits Into The Plot: The Motorist shows up right as Wadsworth is about to get rid of the key to the weapons cabinet. He asks to use the phone because his 1953 Chevy Bel-Air is broken down. His request is eventually okayed, but he’s murdered just seconds before he blurts out the identity of his former boss. Spoiler alert: it’s Colonel Mustard. He was his driver during the war and has been giving the blackmailer secrets about his ex-boss’ shady history as a war profiteer.
Quality Of Character: Apart from being a necessary cog in Clue’s complicated plot, the Motorist brings almost nothing whatsoever to the table beyond his mildly interesting hat. He doesn’t have any memorable lines. He dies pathetically via one blow to the head, and his greatest moment is probably when the guests get his corpse drunk in an act GG Allin would have approved of.
#13) Mrs. HoPros: Solid Gong Skills, Good Knowledge Of Foreign Cuisine
Cons: Humorless, Boring
How She Fits Into The Plot: Back in the day, Mrs. Ho was Mrs. Peacock’s cook. She served the character and her Senator husband a delicious diet of strange dishes, all the while spying on them with an eye toward making a little cash. Eventually, she turned over some secrets related to Mrs. P’s corruption to Mr. Boddy and a blackmail conspiracy was born. She gets murdered in the film either by Mrs. Peacock or Yvette, depending on the ending in question.
Quality Of Character: I appreciate that she’s able to get dinner done exactly on time and that she doesn’t fuck around when it comes to slamming the gong as aggressively as possible, but on the whole, there’s really not a whole lot here. The number of lines she has can be easily counted on the hands, though her larger-than-expected size does contribute a few cheap laughs well after her death when the women struggle to lift her corpse onto the couch.
#12) Mr. BoddyPros: Average Schemer, Carts Around An Expensive Suitcase Filled With Weapons, Above Average Present Wrapper
Cons: Dick-ish Personality, Is Either A Blackmailer Or A Dumb Pawn, Might Be Afraid Of Dogs, Gives Off A Creepy Rape Vibe
How He Fits Into The Plot: Depending on which ending you choose to believe, Mr. Boddy is either the person who has been blackmailing all of the main characters or he’s Wadsworth’s butler. Either way, he’s a zealous supporter of Joseph McCarthy and is an antagonist of the main characters. He presents each with a lethal weapon during the first act and asks one of them to use said weapon to take out Wadsworth. Obviously, his plan backfires and he’s shot. He doesn’t die, but about ten minutes later, he’s bashed over the head with a candlestick.
Quality Of Character: Apart from his general I’m-A-Dick demeanor and a shit eating grin, Mr. Boddy really doesn’t have a whole lot going on personality wise. I definitely appreciate that he took the time to wrap up the weapons he brought and even attach bows, but as a villain, he really could stand to be crazier. He’s on screen for fifteen total minutes or so, and he’s really not missed very much after he’s gone. You should always miss a good villain.
#11) The Singing Telegram GirlPros: Sings, Dances, Doesn’t Overstay Her Welcome
Cons: Cannot Survive Gunshots, Willing To Sleep With Professor Plum
How She Fits Into The Plot: Back in the day, Professor Plum was a noted psychiatrist. He lost his license after he slept with the much younger Singing Telegram Girl, who was his patient. She later told Mr. Boddy about the shenanigans that went down, and he used the info to blackmail her former doctor. During the film, she’s ordered to Hill House to deliver a singing telegram, and she’s quickly shot before she finishes the first verse.
Quality Of Character: Played by Go-Gos band member Jane Wiedlin, the Singing Telegram girl can clearly sing and dance her heart out. Beyond that, there seems to be a lot of interesting things going on with her personality in terms of sleeping with Professor Plum and then trying to ruin his life twice. I would love to get a prequel to find out what the hell happened there. I’m sure it would involve him being his normal sexually forward self, but as for now, all we can do is speculate wildly.
#10) The CopPros: Good Moustache, Willing To Let People Have A Good Time, Mildly Aware Of His Surroundings
Cons: Nosy, Answers Other People’s Phones, Easily Duped
How He Fits Into The Plot: The cop stops by the house after he notices the Motorist’s abandoned vehicle outside. He later heads into the library to use the phone. After getting locked in, he loudly chastises everyone for interfering with his work and even answers the phone, seemingly out of spite. Mr. Green later shows him around the house to assuage his fears. He gives the drunken debauchery a thumbs up, but he never completely buys into the claims that everything is normal, probably because he recognizes Miss Scarlett who has been bribing him to keep her prostitution business going for years.
Quality Of Character: The cop has a real personality with at least some layers. He’s sorta corrupt but not so corrupt he’s unwilling to do the basic duties of a police officer. He’s also dumb enough to be hoodwinked but not so dumb he blindly believes everything is still okay. He’s a complicated dude, and of the randoms, he’s clearly the most watchable. I actually feel a tinge of sadness for him every time he’s bashed over the head. He deserves better, I think.
#9) Professor PlumPros: Some Medical Knowledge, Plenty Of Self-Confidence
Cons: Loose Morals, Slurps Soup, Lost Medical License, Handsy
How He Fits Into The Plot: Professor Plum is one of the six blackmailed main characters. He lost his medical license after sleeping with a much younger patient and now works for the United Health Organization. He tells everyone Mr. Boddy is dead after the blackmailer is shot in the dark, even though he’s very clearly still alive. In one of the endings, he later murders the bastard with a candlestick.
Quality Of Character: Professor Plum’s main personality trait is that he’s a horny bastard. He grabs a big handful of Miss Scarlett behind at one point, and later, he gets on top of Mrs. White, supposedly because he wants to show her how an odd sexual position works. That perspective does bring some balance to the story, but on the whole, his best comedic moment is probably creeping Mrs. Peacock out by calling her "honeybunch". I'm glad he exists, but he's easily the least hilarious/ memorable/ awesome of the main characters.
#8) The ChiefPros: Extensive Bible Knowledge, Odd Sense Of Humor, Proficient With Handguns, Good Facial Hair
Cons: Wears A Cowboy Hat, Overanimated Eyebrows
How He Fits Into The Plot: The Chief appears late in the third act disguised as a missionary. He lets Mrs. Peacock know the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. She angrily calls him a beatnik and slams the door in his face. Little does she know he’s actually the law enforcement officer, waiting for the right moment to swoop in and arrest the killer or killers once they’re cornered.
Quality Of Character: I love this guy. He could have posed as damn near anything and come to the door, but he chooses to play a missionary. I also appreciate that in the Mrs. Peacock ending, he doesn’t immediately arrest her when she scampers outside but instead teasers her again with his conversion schtick. It’s completely unnecessary, of course, but it increases the tension, adds a few laughs and makes him a more fleshed out character. Bonus points for his manly, yet well-tended beard, as well.
#7) YvettePros: A+ Cleavage, French And American Accents, Very Sexually Adventurous, Good Shot
Cons: Very Sexually Adventurous, Mrs. Scarlett’s Pawn, Sleeps With Married Men
How She Fits Into The Plot: Prior to her stint as a maid, Yvette worked for Miss Scarlett in her brothel. While there, she both slept with Colonel Mustard and Mrs. White’s husband, though it’s unclear whether she used her fake French accent during either encounter. She’s largely loyal to Miss Scarlett, though in one of the endings, this backfires miserably as her boss strangles her with a rope. In the other conclusions, she’s either murdered by Mrs. White for the aforementioned dalliance or by Mrs. Peacock because she’s a bloodthirsty sociopath by that point.
Quality Of Character: Yvette is easily the best of all the people murdered in every version because she’s a link between three different characters, which complicates the whole situation and adds the necessary layers. She also adds sex appeal and is far more villainous and conniving than others give her credit for. She’s capable of sneaking around the house without anyone detecting her, and she can distract both men and women with her impressive cleavage.
#6) Mr. GreenPros: Great Shot, Complicated Sex Life, Good At Dramatic Glasses Removal
Cons: Accident Prone, Willing To Bitch Slap Women, Easily Startled
How He Fits Into The Plot: Mr. Green is either a closeted homosexual working for the State Department who is pathologically afraid of losing his job, or he’s a dashing heterosexual FBI Agent who infiltrates the dinner party and engineers a sting operation to kill or put behind bars six murderers. In two of the endings, he murders nobody and in one of the endings, he guns down Wadsworth in the Hall with one of the best quickdraws and dead on heart accurate shots you’ll ever see.
Quality Of Character: It's hard to get a handle on Mr. Green because there's a 1/3rd chance he's just playing a character and intentionally spilling shit. It’s like a Shutter Island deal, and it completely changes on the rewatch. Personally, I prefer the Mr. Green who is a stumbling doofus by nature, if only because I’d like to think he seriously thought Wadsworth was yelling at him to sit down at the beginning of the film.
#5) Mrs. PeacockPros: Hostess Experience, Powerful Husband, Very Adventurous Eater, Absurd Headpiece
Cons: Very Talkative, Self-Righteous, Takes Bribes, Hates Gay People, Obnoxious Screamer, Afraid Of Death
How She Fits Into The Plot: Mrs. Peacock is the wife of an unidentified Senator. She has been taking bribes for an undisclosed amount of time, though she winds up paying some of that money to Mr. Boddy, who discovered her secret thanks to the cook they share. She murders said cook in two of the versions, and in one, she murders every single person because that’s what vindictive old women who think they’re better than everyone else do.
Quality Of Character: It’s all about the sighs with Mrs. Peacock, as handled by Eileen Brennan. She’s great at expressing disapproval without using real words to do it. She’s of that not rare enough breed who thinks her own sins are completely legitimate but those of others are immoral, offensive and scuzzy. This leads to some pretty defensive comments about her own bribe-taking and some pretty offensive statements and mean-spirited looks about things like homosexuality, prostitution and murder. Okay, maybe that last one might deserve at least a look.
#4) Colonel MustardPros: Military Experience, Top Secret Pentagon Job, Affable Personality
Cons: Pretty Stupid, Likes Hookers, Can’t Take Anymore Scares, Possible Drinking Problem, Traitor
How He Fits Into The Plot: Colonel Mustard is a former war profiteer who sold the radios out of military planes. He’s deeply ashamed of what he did and pays the blackmailer everything he has in order to keep his personal shame out of the papers. His chauffeur during the war informed Mr. Boddy about what he did, and in one of the versions, he murders him for it after suggesting everyone split up into pairs and search the house.
Quality Of Character: Colonel Mustard seems to have no idea he’s a dumbass. He zealously guards his intellectual reputation and smiles from ear-to-ear whenever he figures something out on his own, no matter how obvious the clues may be. He’s also a terrible liar, judging by how quickly his dead parents ruse falls apart, and he clearly has a penchant for strong drink and hookers. All of these inadequacies make him an extremely amusing character to watch, especially since he seems to be kind-hearted in spite of his shortcomings.
#3) Mrs. WhitePros: Great Veil, Best Singer Of The Bunch, Willing To Get Her Hands Dirty
Cons: Slurps Her Soup, Problems Communicating Her Feelings, May Have Cut Off Her Husband’s Penis After Murdering Him
How She Fits Into The Plot: Of the two ex-husbands of Mrs. White’s we have direct knowledge of (there are apparently five), one was an illusionist and one was a nuclear physicist. The latter is of particular importance because he helps tie together the connection to the government and Washington that Mr. Boddy is clearly so obsessed with. At least two of those ex-husbands wound up dead, one after she discovered an affair between him and Yvette. That’s the reason why she’s being blackmailed. In one of the endings, she murders Yvette as long overdue revenge for that affair.
Quality Of Character: Thanks to the steady hands of the great Madeline Kahn, Mrs. White has many of the best lines in the entire movie. Her speech about flames coming from the side of her face is quite possibly the most beloved bit of dialogue from the entire film, though it’s far from the only gem she works in. Mrs. White’s wardrobe is also impeccable, especially the splash of white on the inside of her coat and the tragic veil she shows up in.
#2) Miss ScarlettPros: Biting Sense Of Humor, Pretty Good Cleavage, Skilled At Basic Addition
Cons: Makes Jokes At Inopportune Times, Unreliable Car, Big Smoker, Runs A Whorehouse
How She Fits Into The Plot: Miss Scarlett runs a brothel in Washington DC. As such, she has dealings with many very high end men who she immediately gains at least one secret on the second they walk into her door. She bribes at least one cop to keep her business afloat and also pays Mr. Boddy to stop people from asking questions. She manipulates her employee Yvette like a fun little toy and winds up with blood on her hands in two of the three endings, including one in which she reveals she also sells secrets.
Quality Of Character: Of all the endings, I think the Miss Scarlett choice works the best. I think it makes the most logical sense, and it really takes her character to another level. It makes no sense that she would pay a blackmailer because half of Washington knows what kind of business she runs. If the police won’t shut her down, what power could Mr. Boddy possibly have? None. So, instead, I like the cunning, manipulative and darkly humorous Miss Scarlett who manipulates Yvette into killing people until she’s served her purpose.
#1) WadsworthPros: Great Problem Solving Skills, Head Of Kitchen And Dining Room, Fast Talker, Can Quote Alfred Lord Tennyson
Cons: Friends Who Are Socialists, Dog Poop On Shoe, Very Manipulative
How He Fits Into The Plot: Wadsworth is the one who organizes the entire scheme to confront Mr. Boddy. He calls everyone together to the house and sets the events of the film in motion. He also explains everything that happens in all three of the endings, though in one he is revealed to be Mr. Boddy himself, having arranged the dinner party in order to have others rid him of the network of informers who were no longer useful.
Quality Of Character: Whether he’s crying over his wife and her Socialist connections or running down the hallway like a mad man, Wadsworth is an absolute revelation throughout the entire movie. In fact, he’s so good it’s impossible to imagine anyone making a passable Clue movie without his character in it. He emerges from the runtime every bit as important as the six principals, and he’s responsible for what feels like thirty percent of all the laughs and fifty percent of the plot’s forward motion.