“Oscar winners Caine and Kingsley shine as Holmes & Watson in Without a Clue.” (1988)

Sherlock Holmes, portrayed by two time Oscar and BAFTA winner Michael Caine (Educating Rita), has just closed another case. He, along with help from his esteemed colleague Dr. Watson, played by Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), have just stopped two thieves from stealing a valuable museum artifact. The duo of Holmes and Watson doesn’t sit well with Inspector Lestrade, a role acted by Grammy winner Jeffrey Jones (Amadeus), who believes police work should be handled by the experts. The real reason he doesn’t want Holmes and Watson involved is because he’s jealous; they solve cases that Lestrade and his men can’t. (As an aside: Golden Globe and Emmy winner Danny DeVito (Taxi), and Oscar winner Sean Connery (The Untouchables) were in contention to play the role of Dr. Watson, before Ben Kingsley was cast).

Early on in the film, it is revealed that Holmes doesn’t solve any of the cases, but rather he relays on Dr. Watson’s intellect. Holmes, as it turns out, was a former actor named Reginald Kincaid whose career was floundering. Watson took him in, trained him, and allowed Kincaid to be the physical embodiment of Sherlock Holmes. He needed someone the public could see and interact with, not just the character of a detective he wrote about in The Strand Magazine, in which Watson’s stories about Holmes are published.

After one too many arguments, however, Watson kicks Holmes out of their shared residence. This pleases Mrs. Hudson (Pat Keen), the landlady, who has a dislike for Holmes. When Greenhough (Peter Cook), Watson’s publisher at The Strand finds out what happened, he insists that Watson get Holmes back. Even though Watson is hesitant to do so, complicating matters is that the British government, represented by Lord Smithwick (Nigel Davenport), has an urgent mission for Holmes. If Holmes doesn’t accept and solve the case quickly, the whole of England’s economy could be ruined. (As an aside: Actress Pat Keen, in addition to this film, appeared in the role of Mrs. Hudson in four episodes of the television series “Baker Street Boys”).

While Watson and Holmes reconcile for the case, they are faced with a deadly enemy from their past, Professor James Moriarty. The role of Moriarty is played by Paul Freeman, who is known the world over for having portrayed the character of Belloq in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The Key to stopping Moriarty and saving the economy is finding kidnapped banker Peter Giles (John Werner). While Holmes and Watson are protecting Gile’s daughter Leslie (Lysette Anthony), time is running out to save her father. Once Moriarty had achieved his end, he would most likely kill Giles. Can Holmes and Watson formulate a plan in time to save Leslie’s father, as well as the whole of England’s financial welfare?

“Without a Clue” was directed by Emmy winner Thom Eberhardt (Ratz). The screenplay was written by three time Emmy nominee Gary Murphy (Malcolm in the Middle) and Larry Strawther (Night Court). The film, which is parts comedy, crime, and mystery, has a runtime of 107 minutes. The music for the movie was composed by four time Oscar winner Henry Mancini (Victor Victoria). The film premiered on October 20, 1988 in Hollywood, California. The proceeds from the premier event went to the Kira Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and money to find a cure for pediatric brain tumors. Furthermore, the foundation’s other goal is to bring some happiness into the lives of children who are fighting cancer.

I had never seen this film before. For that matter, until I read someone’s post, in which they were writing about their favorite Sherlock Holmes films, to my recollection, I had never even heard about the movie. I enjoyed watching it from start to finish. The comedy was well timed. The pacing didn’t allow for anything to drag. On the whole, the cast was uniformly excellent in their roles. Caine and Kingsley had great on screen chemistry. My only disappointment was that the two lead actors didn’t make a few sequels portraying the Holmes and Watson characters. If you’re are a fan of the lead actors, or the characters of Holmes and Watson, and don’t mind seeing those characters in a comedic setting, this is a film you will most likely enjoy.

About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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4 Responses to “Oscar winners Caine and Kingsley shine as Holmes & Watson in Without a Clue.” (1988)

  1. Sam Simon says:

    I didn’t know about this one, and I’m a huge fan of the character of Sherlock Holmes! I must find it, thanks!

  2. Michael Caine is one of my all-time favourite actors and I’m also a big fan of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and some of the various film/TV adaptations. Unbelievably though, I’ve never seen this…definitely have to stick it on the list!

    • robbinsrealm says:

      I was able to watch it on youtube, someone had put up a perfect copy and there were no commercials. I don’t know if its still on there.

      I’ve loved Michael Caine in a number of films. I haven’t read as much Conan Doyle as I would’ve liked, but I’ll get around to reading more Sherlock Holmes in the future.

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