The mystery stage play by Anthony Shaffer was adapted by the author into this stylish film from director Joseph L. Manciewicz. Laurence Olivier stars as Andrew Wyke, a best-selling author of detective fiction living in a grand 16th century mansion. Andrew is visited by Milo Tindle (Michael Caine), owner of a hair salon chain, and reveals to his guest that he's aware of Milo's affair with his wife Marguerite. Rather than being vengeful, however, Andrew professes he's glad to be rid of his troublesome spouse. To avoid paying heavy alimony, Andrew suggests that Milo disguise himself as a clown and steal his wife's expensive jewelry. That way Marguerite and Milo can obtain financial security while Andrew claims the loss on his insurance and all walk away rich. Andrew's plan is a devious one, however, designed to toy with his wife's lover, and a series of deceptions and counter-deceptions are launched in which nothing is as it seems, unfolding as an elaborate game of comeuppance between the two men. Ten years after Sleuth, Caine would assay a role not unlike Olivier's in the similarly-themed Deathtrap (1982). ~ Karl Williams, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for Sleuth
This is a fastidious, acrobatically cunning and invigoratingly well-acted thriller.
Provides Laurence Olivier and especially Michael Caine with two of their best roles.
What really makes the movie come alive--what makes it work better than the play, really--are the lead performances by Lord Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, and Alec Cawthorne.
With the exception of a brief showing by British thespian Alec Cawthorne, the only actors on screen are Olivier and Caine. Both are so good that there's not a moment when we wish for someone else to interrupt their duel.
A hugely enjoyable thriller, adapted by Anthony Shaffer from his own phenomenally successful stage play, about two men involved in an intellectual but deadly game of cat and mouse.
This stylish, intelligent mystery is full of delightfully unexpected twists, and boasts extraordinary performances from Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier.
Despite flaws (it's overlong and too theatrical, betraying its stage origins), this stylishly made cat-and-mouse thriller with strong social class overtones boasts great performances from Olivier and Michael Caine.
A stagebound but effective two-character thriller. It might work better on stage, but you're not like to find better leads.
Intriguing to begin, but ultimately tiring; its place is on the stage.
It's one of those works built around a gimmick that in fact requires a little cheating on the part of the filmmakers in order to succeed. But it's a good gimmick.
Delicious, wickedly funny game of cat-and-cat.
A two-man play that displays the terrific talents of Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine
Joseph Mankiewicz directs this deft satire on the detective genre of literature that is both a metaphysical thriller and a psychological cliff-hanger.
For two great actors like Olivier and Caine, it's a chance to show off their acting talents, and fascinate people with dialogue, not action.
Audience Reviews for Sleuth
A great movie adapted from a great play, Caine and Olivier are excellent together, and it's just perfect. I highly recommend this movie.More
Having loved British screenwriter Anthony Shaffer's occult thriller "The Wicker Man"(1973), I decided to give this 1972 film of his, a shot.
Based on Shaffer's play of the same name, "Sleuth" opens with Milo Tindle (Michael Caine) trying to find his way through a complex hedge maze in order to reach the owner of the property on which it lies, a huge manor house of Andrew Wyke (Laurence Olivier), a middle-aged-and-getting-older detective novel writer who has invited him over. This is an initial indication of Wyke's twisted behaviour. He is the kind of man whose hobby, apart from his profession of writing, seemingly includes indulging in elaborate games and riddles, preferably with unsuspecting strangers who aren't aware of his ways.
As it turns out, Tindle is a struggling salon owner who is having an affair with Wyke's wife Marguerite. Aware of the affair, Wyke warns Tindle of Marguerite's expensive ways and points out that it may be difficult to keep her happy forever with what Tindle makes. Himself having an affair with another woman, Wyke is eager to get Marguerite off his hands. Being involved in detective fiction, Wyke hatches an ingenious scheme with Tindle that would make them both happy. He convinces Tindle to steal a lot of expensive jewelery from his house, sell it and make money to live a comfortable life with Marguerite, while Wyke would claim the the insurance money of the jewels, and carry on with his own affair with his girlfriend comfortably! Instantly enticed by the offer which seems picture perfect on paper, Tindle agrees and puts the plan into action...but are things really that simple as they are made out to be? Or does Wyke have his own ulterior motives behind his devious game of insurance fraud?
Since the film is based on a play, 99% of the film is set indoors in Wyke's plush mansion which looks eerie in the night, especially with all the creepy-looking talking puppet dolls scattered around the house! One wonders how Wyke manages to stay alone in that huge house, isolated from any sign of human life! The closed set gives the film a much needed claustrophobic atmosphere. The film relies heavily on the verbose dialog between the two lead actors and of course, their performances, what with them occupying most of the screen space! In spite of having a single set and two primary characters, Shaffer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz successfully create a riveting, neatly structured old school mystery, albeit not without some minor flaws. Some situations do look forced and tad unconvincing, one must admit!
But the flaws are overshadowed, by a taut script with delightfully intelligent twists and by the mesmerizing performances from the two British acting giants, Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. They sure know their responsibility of carrying this entire film on their able shoulders and manage it with so much ease, they make acting look simple! Both the actors were nominated for Academy Awards for 'Best Actor' category and it's no surprise!
"Sleuth" references the typical 'sleuth' akin to classic detective-crime fiction from the Agatha Christie era. Just as there is a highly intelligent detective who is usually much smarter than even the entire police force in these stories, Wyke keeps obsessing about his own detective character St. John Lord Merridew and how he would solve a particular crime and confound the officials! Do watch this film if you are a lover of good old fashioned mysteries. Though not perfect, it is certainly worth your time and money.
After a friend told me to see "Sleuth" . i had to see it! Its a good thing i did because this may be one of the greatest films i've ever seen!
In England, the Italian English hairdresser Milo Tindle is invited by the successful writer of detective stories Andrew Wyke to visit his isolated house. The lower class Milo is the lover of Andrew's wife, who is used to have a comfortable life, and he intends to marry her. Andrew proposes Milo to steal his jewelry simulating a burglary. Milo would make a fortune selling the jewels to an intermediary; and Andrew would be reimbursed by the insurance company and would not pay alimony. However, the whole situation was part of an evil game. When Milo vanishes, a detective visits Andrew to investigate what really happened that night, when deadly games are disclosed.
Now if you think that thats a dumb plot then you have no movie taste at all.
The acting was simply amazing and the movie is filled with twists and turns. I loved watching the cat and mouse game between the two characters which is why i really enjoyed this film.
This is an atomatic 5 stars and it hit my top 10 definatly!
Sleuth is brilliantly written, brilliantly acted and brilliantly crafted. It is a stage adaptation of the highest form. The material gets a little samey, which even the movie itself seems to acknowledge toward the end. It's compulsively watchable entertainment, though - dialogue and expression that hasn't aged a drop since 1972.
Perhaps it also suffers a little from being overly theatrical, but Olivier and Caine could act the hell out of a character. They are two totally unforgettable presences. And hell, it WAS a play...the adaptation is more generous than some, such as the insufferable House of Yes, but adheres enough to its source that it doesn't lose any of its original essence. If the movie has its faults, it is because of its nature, but you can't really begrudge it much.
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