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Spoilers

So. Your Humble Blogger doesn’t go out to see a lot of movies, these days. Which means I don’t see a lot of trailers. Now, I could watch a lot of trailers, because they are all on-line, but why would I bother, since I don’t go out to see a lot of movies. All of which is to say that I’m out of the loop on upcoming movies, and was unaware that Ken Branagh was directing another version of Sleuth, this time with Michael Caine in the role of Andrew Wyke. Mr. Caine, of course, played Milo Tindle in the Joe Mankiewicz 1972 film with Laurence Olivier as Andrew Wyke. The play (by Anthony Schaffer) opened in London and then on Broadway in 1970 with Keith Baxter and Anthony Quayle.

What I’m saying, this is not obscure or recent. I could well assume that anybody with any interest in theeyater or mysteries, or both, or even in film or mysteries and certainly both, knows the play/movie, and knows all of the plot twists. Sure, it’s possible that somebody will have heard of the movie or the play but not have read it or seen it, and that a spoiler would utterly spoil it, but it’s not very likely.

Or wasn’t. Now, presumably, there are thousands of people—well, dozens, anyway—who have seen the trailer and have at least a mild interest in someday seeing it, and would enjoy it more if it isn’t spoiled.

And if you are one of those people, now would be an excellent time to stop reading. Well, a couple of paragraphs earlier would probably be even better, now that you mention it.

Everyone that’s still here knows the plot, yes? So I can say that the reason Michael Caine seems to me better suited to play Wyke than Milo is that his voice is one of the most recognizable voices in film, which made it absolutely clear that Inspector Doppler was Michael Caine in a funny wig. I don’t know if Jude Law can pull of Inspector Doppler, but I think he’s got a better shot at it than Michael Caine. On the other hand, Michael Caine is not plausibly homosexual at all (sorry, boys), which will make the last quarter or so of the film difficult. He may prove me wrong. Oh, and I should say that Mr. Caine can swish with the best of them, I just don’t think that he can indicate his growing attraction to this young man. I don’t actually think Mr. Caine portrays that kind of attraction particularly well in any event, now that I think of it. Of course, I haven’t actually seen Alfie, but by report the effect in that is that Alfie is having a bit of fun, but isn’t actually in love with anybody except himself. And other than that, there’s—what—various killers, soldiers, scapegraces and troublemakers. I should watch Hannah and her Sisters again; I remember his crumbling character, but don’t remember his crush on Barbara Hershey. And I should see Deathtrap again, where he does play a man with a crush on another man. And which is a joke on Sleuth, mostly, anyway.

Where was I? Oh, yes, spoilers. So if the first thing to talk about is Michael Caine’s taking on the other role, the second thing is how the new screenplay (by Harold Pinter) will change the plot twists to surprise those of us who know, for instance, that—

OK, seriously, anybody here still going to have the movie, the play or anything else spoiled by revealing detailed plot points? No? Sure? Good.

So there are essentially four quarters to the play. Act One opens with approximately three-quarters of a fuckload of exposition, followed by the Phony Break-in (I). In the first major twist, the Phony Break-In turns out to be a blind for the Murder (II), and the curtain comes down as Wyke gloats over Milo’s dead body. Act Two opens with Inspector Doppler (III) sleuthing out the murder, and it is revealed that Wyke did not, actually, kill Milo, but is somehow being framed for it anyway. The last major twist reveals that Doppler is actually Milo, who has actually framed Wyke for an entirely different murder, and will send him up unless Wyke plays his Gruesome Little Game (IV).

We know from the trailer that Mr. Pinter has kept the Phony Break-in (I), and he appears to have kept the Murder (II). I am assuming that he has kept Inspecter Doppler (III), because if he hasn’t, then it isn’t Sleuth at all. And you could just end the movie at the end of Inspector Doppler (III), but why would you want to? That isn’t clever. No, all I can figure out is that they have found some way to make the Gruesome Little Game (IV) startling and new and different. Or not, you know.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.