Without a Clue (1988)

screenshot from Without a Clue

Directed by: Thom Eberhardt
Screenwriter(s): Gary Murphy, Larry Strawther
Starring: Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley, Jeffrey Jones, Lysette Anthony, Paul Freeman, Nigel Davenport, Peter Cook, Gregor Fisher
Genre: Comedy / Mystery
Country: UK
Running time: 1h 42m
Rating: 8 out of 10

What if Dr John Watson had really existed and Sherlock Holmes had been a figment of his imagination? That’s the starting point for Without A Clue, in which Watson (Kingsley) is the real genius who writes up his own adventures for The Strand magazine, inventing a supersleuth, Sherlock Holmes, to feature as the main protagonist. Soon Holmes’ popularity becomes so great that Watson has to hire an out-of-work actor, Reginald Kincaid (Caine), to pose as the world’s greatest consulting detective.

So far, so Remington Steele. But, unlike Pierce Brosnan’s urbane alter-ego, Kincaid is a drunken, lecherous buffoon with little talent:

Holmes: How can I be expected to maintain the character when you belittle me in front of those hooligans?
Watson: Character? Are we talking about the same man who once declared with total conviction that the late Colonel Howard had been bludgeoned to death with a blunt excrement?
Holmes: Is it my fault you have such poor handwriting?

Watson tries dumping Holmes and reinventing himself John Watson, Crime Doctor, but everyone wants the ‘real’ Sherlock Holmes, not his sidekick. When the plates for making five pound notes are stolen from the Royal Mint, Queen Victoria herself insists only Sherlock Holmes can possibly be trusted to solve the problem, much to Watson’s disgust, and the two are forced to work together again.

Caine romps through this, chewing scenery as he goes, proving that his movie-stealing comedic turn in Sweet Liberty was no fluke. Kingsley gives a clear indication that he, too, really should do more comedy.

An overlooked gem.

For your listening pleasure

SMERSHPod: Without a Clue

The pod is donning its deerstalkers, polishing its magnifying glasses, and giving a full treatment of the sleuthing routine. Yes, it’s Without a Clue. Joining John Rain to hunt down the dreaded Arty Morty is comedian Paul Litchfield and a very special secret guest.

This site is not affiliated with SMERSHPod in any way. We just like it.