Milo Tindle and Andrew Wyke have something in common, Andrew's wife. In an attempt to find a way out of this without costing Andrew a fortune in alimony, he suggests Milo pretend to rob his house and let him claim the insurance on the stolen jewelry. The problem is that they don't really like each other and each cannot avoid the zinger on the other. The plot has many shifts in which the advantage shifts between Milo and Andrew.
Laurence Olivier ... Andrew Wyke
Michael Caine ... Milo Tindle
Alec Cawthorne ... Inspector Doppler
John Matthews ... Detective Sergeant Tarrant
Margo Channing ... Marguerite Wyke
Teddy Martin ... Police Constable Higgs
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Codecs: OpenDivX 4 / MP3
My parents saw "Sleuth" on Broadway, during its original run, just a year or so before this film was released. Watching the movie I can see how it would make a good play, but by the same token, it is not a translation that feels slow, or wordy, or unsuited to the screen. The adaptation is excellent, without "opening up" the play too much. If you're a fan of mysteries, you'll be intrigued by the performances and the script. Joseph Mankiewicz's direction isn't terribly flashy, but subtle and well-done.
Laurence Olivier stars as Andrew Wyke, a famous mystery novel writer. Milo Tindle (Michael Cane), comes to visit him one weekend; asking for Andrew's wife's hand in marriage. But things aren't as simple as they first appear. Andrew wants something in return from Milo. And then again, maybe he doesn't.
The film unfolds slowly and patiently; you almost feel like the film's sentient and realizes how juicy its secrets are, holding on to them for as long as possible. There are numerous twists and surprises in the film; and even if you see one or two coming (as I did), don't expect to get it all right until it's over. It's best not to know at all what is going to happen, so I'll leave you with no more clues.
I enjoyed nearly every moment after the initial meeting between Milo and Andrew. Once Cane and Olivier really get going in their scenes, the film never looks back. They are exceptional in their performances, and deservedly earned nominations for Best Actor Oscars.
So who wins? Does anyone win? Is it a game with a winner at all? Oh just go get it already!
Sleuth is based on an outstanding stage play by Anthony Shaffer. Sometimes, a work which succeeded on the stage doesn't transfer well to the big screen. Movies like Equus and Dangerous Corner - which were a delight in theatres - lose their power under the close scrutiny of a film camera. Sleuth is not a failure. It retains its stagebound plot, characters and dialogue, but somehow manages to be totally engrossing as well.
Part of the joy is due to Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. The two giants of Britsh acting don't chew the scenery in an attempt to out-shine each other; they complement each other quite brilliantly and turn in two of the finest screen performances you could ever aspire to see. Olivier plays elderly author Andrew Wyke, an obscenely wealthy, well-educated and devious man. Caine is Milo Tindle, a charming, ever-polite young hairdresser. Milo visits Andrew to ask for his blessing in marrying his estranged wife. Although Andrew seems fairly open to the idea of giving away his wife (after all, they despise each other) he still feels stung by her exit, so he engineers a cruel game to humiliate Milo. But who is playing a trick on who?
The dialogue is terrific, but it needed terrific actors to get the best out of it. Caine and Oloivier do a fine job. Ken Adams' set design turns Olivier's gorgeous palatial house into a dazzling mansion of madness. The tinkly music by John Addison creates a playful yet ever-so-slightly uncomfortable mood. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directs perfectly, getting maximum suspense from his staging of scenes and thoughtful choice of camera angles. The twists are superbly disguised, especially the awesome "shock" climax which will blow you away. See Sleuth - it's one of the best!
In England, the Italian English hairdresser Milo Tindle (Michael Caine) is invited by the successful writer of detective stories Andrew Wyke (Laurence Olivier) to visit his isolated house. The lower class Milo is the lover of Andrew's wife, who is used to have a comfortable life, and he intends to marry her. Andrew proposes Milo to steal his jewelry simulating a burglary. Milo would make a fortune selling the jewels to an intermediary; and Andrew would be reimbursed by the insurance company and would not pay alimony. However, the whole situation was part of an evil game. When Milo vanishes, a detective visits Andrew to investigate what really happened that night, when deadly games are disclosed.
"Sleuth" proves that a great screenplay, an outstanding director, two top-notch actors and four scenarios suffice to make an excellent movie with four nominations to the Oscar. The intelligent and wit theatrical story has amazing lines and twists in a duel of cat and mouse between two icons, and has not aged.
* 'Joanne Woodward' 's likeness was used for the painting of Marguerite Wyke.
* Last film of Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
* Michael Caine was the third choice for the part of Milo Tindle after Albert Finney (who was deemed too plump) and Alan Bates (who turned down the role).
* The Edgar Allan Poe award on Andrew Wyke's mantel is actually the one given to Anthony Shaffer for his play "Sleuth". Joseph L. Mankiewicz also won an Edgar for the movie 5 Fingers (1952).
* John Addison was nominated for an Oscar for his music score. However, he was not originally among the five nominees when the nominations were announced. He was added to the list after the score for The Godfather (1972) was deemed ineligible.
* Michael Caine was so very much beside himself to be working with Laurence Olivier, that he didn't even know how to address him. Eventually, he broke down and just asked. Olivier replied, "Well I am the Lord Olivier and you are Mr Michael Caine. Of course that's only for the first time you address me. After that I am Larry and you are Mike."
* The original stage production of "Sleuth" opened on Broadway on 12 November 1970. It originally starred Anthony Quayle as Andrew and Keith Baxter as Milo and ran for 1222 performances.
* The line "you're just a jumped-up pantry boy who doesn't know his place" is repeated almost verbatim in the song "This Charming Man" by The Smiths, 1982. Lyricist and singer Morrissey has always been fascinated by English pop culture and class issues, and several working-class English actors of the 1960s (including Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and Diana Dors) appear in the role of "cover star" on The Smiths' albums.
* The reason Alan Bates thought the role was "beneath" him was that he walked out of the stage show at intermission after believing that his character had been killed when Andrew "shot" him at the end of the first act.
* The laughter coming from the "dummy" Jolly Jack Tar is that of Laurence Olivier.
* Alan Bates was offered the role of Milo but turned it down after walking out of the play, believing the role to be "unbecoming of an actor of his stature".
# SPOILER: "Eve Channing" is a combination of "Eve Harrington" and "Margot Channing", the two main characters in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve (1950). "Higgs" is the name of the dead body in Tom Stoppard's play "The Real Inspector Hound", a parody of Agatha Christie-type mysteries. "Alec Cawthorne" is also the name of a film writer for the BBC. The name Alec Cawthorne is virtually an anagram for "Or Michael Caine". To achieve the spelling, flip the 'W' in Cawthorne upside down to get the 'M' in Michael, and separate the horizontal and vertical lines in the letter 'T' to get the two 'I's needed... one in mIchael and one in caIne. The rest of the letters fall naturally into place.
# SPOILER: One of only two films for which the entire cast was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar (the other was Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975)).
# SPOILER: The film only had two stars - the rest of the cast were made-up names.