Sleuth

Sleuth

96%

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Sleuth Reviews

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AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
A great movie adapted from a great play, Caine and Olivier are excellent together, and it's just perfect. I highly recommend this movie.
Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale

Super Reviewer

December 7, 2010
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.
aSpaceCowboy
aSpaceCowboy

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2008
This psychological thriller deserves more appreciation. It has a brilliant script, beautiful scenery, and two exciting performances by two very talented actors. There?s not a bore or dull moment in plain view which gives Sleuth a near perfected work of art.

A young hairdresser named Milo Tindle is invited to a greeting with his lover?s husband, Andrew Wyke. It?s all just fun and games with the ol? prow. A simple conversation over the woman that ties them together ? Marguerite ? soon turns into a rather funny sort of action, but is taken too far when a gun is fired and a man disappears. But it?s only now, that the game truly begins.

It?s difficult to say how much I admire the plot without unveiling any hidden aspects? but I?ll try. A game is all it is, really. Just a game; A ravage struggle between two men which is taken too seriously. The way it precedes is so non- expecting. There?s nothing predictable about it. Just when you think you?ve got everything figured, a new surprise comes a-knockin?. All the twists and turns will make your head spin. You really have no idea what?s going to happen next, but you desperately want to find out. Simply put, it?s a funhouse ith no escape. You become a part of the game.

BOOM! That was the sound of Michael Caine blowing your mind He plays a shady, devious, little twitter whom reinvents the game?s rules. He?s cunning, stealthy, crude, crass, sly. Almost villain-like. He captures the essence of a real maniac. Not in the sort of ?serial killer? manner, but more like that of a trickster.

Laurence Olivier was the master of the show! He brought so much energy and life to his character. In his funhouse of toys and games he actually seemed like a kid. The innocence, sent, smile, joy and freedom felt natural and convincing. He wasn?t like a kid, he was a kid.

All of enchantment and majestic of these two flawless performances made Sleuth a mastering piece of art. All it had was two actors ? TWOACTORS! It worked out more than expected? Let the games begins.
Screeny
Screeny

Super Reviewer

November 6, 2008
After a friend told me to see "Sleuth" [1972]. 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!
Drew S

Super Reviewer

May 3, 2008
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.
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

February 11, 2008
A hoot of a film with a completely oddball ending. Rich eccentric Lawrence Olivier invites Michael Caine over for visit to discuss Larry's wife, who Caine is seeing on the side. Larry likes games, and suggests one with Caine. Lots of twists and turns, and just when you think you have it figured out, they throw another curve ball at you. Watching two great actors like Caine and Olivier play off each other (which is reportedly what they did in that the script was barebones and they were told to elaborate), is always a treat, and they don't disappoint. But wtf was that ending all about? Instead of making me go "AHA!", I was left more with a feeling of "Huh?"
Ken S

Super Reviewer

May 5, 2007
This movie is incredible. 2 Guys, 1 House and a hell of a wild ride.

The acting here is beyond top notch.
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2007
Joseph L. Mankiewicz's swan song united two gigantic legends in a deadly battle of wit, persuasion and humiliation. a masterful thriller with richness in dialogue, theatricality, and twists, all submerged in the purest, most malicious and delightful black humour.
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2007
A hugely entertaining adaptation of Anthony Shaffer's witty play. I'm hoping that the remake isn't awful but I'm not really bothered as I'll always have this to return to.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

January 9, 2007
A highly thought of whodunnit by everyone, it seems, except me. I thought it was all a bit too melodramatic and silly, but Olivier and Caine are always worth watching.
Beefy
Beefy

Super Reviewer

September 24, 2006
More an excuse to watch two great actors spar with each other than a suspense film. But with these actors, it's a beautiful thing.
Jeremy S

Super Reviewer

May 29, 2006
The ultimate murder mystery,, with one of the greatest suprise endings I have ever seen. Starring only Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine in their most compelling roles. You'll never watch a who dunnit the same way again. Winner of my Top Detective Mystery Films.
John B

Super Reviewer

March 26, 2014
Olivier and Caine are absolutely great in playing off of one another in the original Sleuth. I didn't see the remake but thought this one was a dandy. Two great actors at work.
PantaOz
PantaOz

Super Reviewer

September 28, 2013
This mystery thriller directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz on the screenplay by British playwright Anthony Shaffer was based on his 1970 Tony Award-winning play Sleuth, and it was Mankiewicz's final film. The film stars Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, each of whom was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. They definitely deserved those nominations for the performances of their characters. Amazingly acted to perfection with lots of chemistry around.

The story of Milo Tindle (Michael Caine), a moderately prosperous, rather flashy self-made London hairdresser, the son of an Italian immigrant and an English farm girl, arrives at a large stately home in the Wiltshire countryside, belonging to Andrew Wyke (Laurence Olivier), a pompous, highly eccentric, quite wealthy crime fiction author. A member of the upper class and with a great concern for tradition, Wyke is popular worldwide for his aristocratic detective, St. John Lord Meridew. They are connected somehow and very soon we are going to find out how.

Shaffer was initially reluctant to sell the film rights to the play, and when he finally did relent, he hoped the film would retain the services of Anthony Quayle, who had essayed the role of Wyke in London and on Broadway. Alan Bates was Shaffer's pick for the part of Milo Tindle. In the end, director Mankiewicz opted for Olivier and Caine - and that was a wonderful choice. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier), Best Director and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score. Olivier won the New York Film Critics award for Best Actor as a compromise selection after the voters became deadlocked in a choice between Marlon Brando and Al Pacino in The Godfather after Stacy Keach in Fat City won a plurality in initial voting and rules were changed requiring a majority.

Almost everything was close to perfect but I have to say that I was annoyed with a person in the background walking across the set around 45 minutes of the duration of the movie - why would an experienced director include a shot like that in the final editing , to me is unknown!? You can see a shadow going across behind the glass which was supposedly upstairs! That is just a minor thing which I could easily forget, but there was another continuity annoyance: When Lawrence Olivier and Michael Caine are playing snooker, Olivier pots the black, then there is a wide shot, with the black visible again on its spot. The next shot is a close up of Olivier picking the black ball from the pocket and replacing it on the table. If you can ignore things like this, the movie could be quite enjoyable! Cheers!
Bryce I

Super Reviewer

April 14, 2011
A beautifully well done Hitchcock-style thriller, that shows that even the smallest of casts can create a suspenseful, entertaining, and cunning classic.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

September 2, 2010
A magnificent cat and mouse game, brilliantly written by Anthony Shaffer, brilliantly acted by Caine, Olivier and Cawthorne (wink, wink), and brilliantly directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Its the struggle for masculine and class dominance as it was meant to be told.
Stephen E

Super Reviewer

October 29, 2012
Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine are electrifying in "Sleuth," which is a solidly directed assortment of twists - the majority of which you're unlikely to see coming. Both actors do so astonishingly well that it becomes more or less a game to see who can upstage the other, but alas, their talents are matched. Add to this exquisite production design, a brilliant score and Oswald Morris' able camerawork and you have a well-made, unforgettable experience. Rarely will you see two actors play better off of each than these two. Oh, and let us not forget the short-lived but terribly amusing appearance of Alec Cawthorne.
Lauren D

Super Reviewer

December 20, 2008
Although it was extremely predictable, I did enjoy it. I can't say much more than that, but the guest appearances were great and I found the movie was quite interesting.
Lovable M

Super Reviewer

November 19, 2008
Great film. Interesting story, well written script, and good acting.
alanjayh
alanjayh

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2008
brilliant duel between olivier and caine..witty, sharp, caustic...its a gem of a script..one turn after another....gripping mystery. drama, thrilling..its all here as one plays off the other...see it and enjoy!!
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