List Film

Sleuth (4 stars)

(15) 132min (Paramount DVD retail)

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Sleuth

MURDER/MYSTERY

If you were a ‘bluddy idiot’, as Maurice Micklewhite might say, you could purchase both versions of Sleuth, which are being released on the same day, and then compare the two: this 1972 original scripted by Anthony Shaffer from his own Broadway play, directed by Hollywood veteran Joseph L Mankiewicz and starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, and last year’s remake revised by Harold Pinter, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Caine and Jude Law.

You would be a ‘bluddy idiot’, though, because the original is widely recognised as a masterpiece that sends up the conventions of an English country house murder mystery and makes sly comment on the class system, male ego and sexuality, whereas the remake is a shoddily made ego trip for all concerned (bar perhaps Caine). The original cat and mouse game of death between Olivier’s cuckolded crime writer and Caine’s womanising hairdresser is enthralling, and rightly deserved its Oscar nominations for both leading actors and director. No extras.

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