Suppose for a moment that Dr. Watson was the real brains behind Sherlock Holmes? The result is anything but elementary! Academy AwardÂ(r) winners* Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley deliver stellar performances as a delightfu... more »l duo, an 1890s Odd Couple (Los Angeles Times) in this madcapmystery that's 'the most hilarious Sherlock Holmes adventure of them all ('sneak Previews )! Dr. John Watson (Kingsley) is secretly a crime-solving genius. But to protect his reputation as a physician, he hires bumbling, boozy, out-of-work actor Reginald Kincaid (Caine) to play the part of his fictional creation, Sherlock Holmes. The charade works until Watson mysteriously disappears, forcing the baffled, seriously inept Holmes to crack the biggest case of Watson's career on his own! *Caine: Supporting Actor, The Cider House Rules (1999); Supporting Actor, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986); Kingsley: Actor, Gandhi (1982)« less
"Without a Clue (1988) poses an interesting and humorous take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The film asks what if the character of Sherlock Holmes was truly a fictional character created by Doctor Watson, and is played by an actor, with Watson being the actual mastermind behind solving the various cases and crimes?
In the film, Ben Kingsley plays Doctor Watson, the man behind the deductive and crime solving skills of his fictional character, Sherlock Holmes. For reasons that are revealed within the movie, Watson was not able to take credit for solving his first caper, so he invented the character of Sherlock Holmes, but soon found his creation was in great demand, so he hired an actor, Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the part of the detective while Watson stayed in the background continuing to be the 'brains' of the operation. Only problem is Reginald Kincaid is a buffoonish, womanizing, gambling, drunkard, and unable to, as he put it, '...detect horse manure if he stepped in it.' After a falling out, Doctor Watson fires Kincaid, and decides to go it alone as 'The Crime Doctor'. Guess what? The legend of Holmes has grown so large and become ensconced so deeply within the public psyche that no one takes Watson seriously, and even his publisher threatens to sue if Watson reveals the truth of the situation publicly. Not only that, but a rather important case involving the financial integrity of the British Empire has surfaced, one involving the nefarious Professor Moriarty, and Holmes is the only man for the job. Watson finds himself in the humbling position of bringing Kincaid back for what will be one last performance.
Kingsley and Caine play their parts perfectly, and are supported by a wonderful cast including Jeffery Jones as Inspector Lestrade, Paul Freeman as Moriarty, Lysette Anthony, and Peter Cook. The dialogue is witty, and even though the plot a bit thin in some areas, the film works wonderfully as a farcical tale with just the right amounts of slapstick and tongue in cheek humor. A completely professional job done by everyone all around. My favorite part of the film was the notion of Watson using Holmes to keep Inspector Lastrade busy tracking down pointless leads while Watson performed the real detection at the crime scene. I was laughing hard when Holmes was on all fours inspecting the pattern of a rug with the baffled inspector right next to him, trying to get the jump on the 'master' detective.
I was a little disappointed in the release of this film on DVD, as I thought the picture and sound quality could have been better. Also, why is there only a full screen release available? Special features are virtually non-existent with the inclusion of a trailer for the film. MGM usually does a pretty good job with their releases, but they seemed to have dropped the ball here. Anyway, this is a great little film, and worth watching if only to see two fine actors at work
A "Sherlock Holmes" Movie With a Twist
Rich Horch | Lynnwood, Washington USA | 08/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You don't have to be an avid reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to enjoy "Without a Clue". If you are at all familiar with this legendary character, you will most likely enjoy this fun, tongue-in-cheek look at what it would be like if Holmes was actually the apprentice of Watson. Michael Caine plays the role of a down-on-his luck actor who is hired by Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley) to play the role of the greatest Detective the world has ever seen (Sherlock Holmes). The only trouble is, "Holmes" can't seem to stop his drinking, gambling, and womanizing; nor does he have a shred of deductive reasoning skills. The story is clever and original, and the performances are fabulous. Michael Caine plays the loveable doofus to perfection and Ben Kingsley wonderfully displays Watson's constant frustrations at Caine's ineptness. The movie is fun, good natured, and genuinely funny. It's a shame it wasn't well received by audiences when it was released in 1988 (I actually remember seeing it in the theater). I would highly recommend this movie."
A Funny Holmes Pastiche, Worth Having
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 10/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dr. Watson has a problem. He's always been the brains behind Sherlock Holmes, a fictional character he dreamed up as cover for the cases he has solved. He even hired a third-rate ham actor, Reginald Kincaid, to impersonate Holmes. But now he's fed up with the fatuous dimwit Kincaid whom everyone is fascinated by and who seems to believe his own notices. He longs to be known as John Watson, Crime Doctor, and to receive the recognition due him for his amazing deductive powers.
That's the set up, and it's a funny one, especially with two first-rate actors as Ben Kingsley playing Watson and Michael Caine playing Kincaid. Watson finally boots out Kincaid and decides to solve a case as himself...but no one is prepared to take Dr. Watson seriously as a detective, even his publisher. Plates for 5-pound notes are stolen from the Royal Mint, the powers of England want Holmes on the case, Watson finds he may need Kincaid after all, and the game's afoot.
Caine makes a spectacular dimwit who finally and inadvertently comes through. Kingsley combines frustration and resentment in a performance that is funny and believable. They both learn something about friendship.
The movie has its weaknesses. It goes on a bit, the climax is workmanlike, and it's essentially a one-joke premise. It still, however, is a very nice, amusing movie, especially if you're a fan of Holmes pastiches. If you're stuffy about Holmes and the sacred canon, well, you may not find this suitable. I thought it was great fun.
The DVD transfer is nothing special but good enough."
What a delight!
Barbara B. | Oregon, USA | 07/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I'm a lover of Sherlock Holmes movies, I almost missed this gem. Everything about this film was wonderful, particularly the tremendous performances by Caine and Kingsley. You can see they're having fun with it every scene, and I loved being along for the ride. The script is intelligent and witty, without getting goofy or slapstick. The plot is hilarious yet holds together as a "mystery" (kind of...). It is totally devoid of the offensive language that plagues so many movies, making it a great family fun flick (but it's NOT at all juvenile).I just wish they'd made a series of these films -- I didn't want it to end."
Very clever, a lot of fun!
Ravyn | Chicago, IL USA | 07/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What if Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the real detective and Sherlock Holmes is his fictional alter ego whose name he created and uses to protect his medical practice? And what if, when pressured to produce Holmes to the public, Watson hires an out-of-work actor to pretend to be Holmes (Michael Caine). All the actor playing Holmes has to do is what Dr. Watson tells him to do as he, Watson, does all the real sleuthing. This is the clever premise of this film -- all the more clever if you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a doctor who wrote the Holmes detective mysteries on the side.
Of course, things start to spiral out of control when "Holmes" tries to solve the mysteries without Watson and "Holmes" makes up a lot of the famous mannerisms.
Lots of humor, a good mystery with quite a bit of suspense and the threat of real danger, plus very nice repartee between the two men as Watson becomes increasingly exasperated with his creation. (This has an almost "Remington Steele" like premise if any of you remember that 1980s TV show starring Pierce Brosnam.) This is a very under-rated film with a top notch cast.
I have not seen this film on the new DVD so can't comment on the quality of this DVD. I'm just reviewing the film itself."