In the midst of a very busy week for catalogue releases, Olive Films has unleashed a handsome new Blu-ray edition of the 1988 comedy Without a Clue, a movie that even you Sherlock fans (and there’s a lot of you) might not know about. A wickedly funny comic take on the boys from Baker Street, its HD debut is a reminder that, despite the current Downey franchise/Sherlock/Elementary-inspired Holmes vogue, there are plenty of wonderful Sherlock Holmes movie adaptations that have been consigned to the dustbins of history (or, at least, of video stores). Here are a few of them:
Without a Clue
The premise of Thom Eberhardt’s 1988 comedy is simple: what if Dr. Watson was the real genius at Baker Street, and Sherlock Holmes was merely an actor playing the role (and a gambling, womanizing, drunken actor at that)? The screenplay by Gary Murphy and Larry Strawther keenly balances verbal wit, literary references, parody, and slapstick, while engaging in (but not overdoing) a sly commentary on celebrity, image, and public perception. Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley are perfectly cast as “Holmes” and Watson; Caine does the incompetent blowhard so well you wish he’d done more of them, while Kingsley effortlessly conveys both Watson’s intelligence and his understandable frustration at getting no credit for it. They get laughs but never lean into them. And on top of all of that, it’s a pretty decent mystery too.