Without a Clue (1988)

PG | 106-107 mins | Adventure, Comedy, Mystery | 21 October 1988

Director:

Thom Eberhardt

Producer:

Marc Stirdivant

Cinematographer:

Alan Hume

Editor:

Peter Tanner

Production Designers:

Brian Ackland-Snow, Martyn Hébert

Production Company:

ITC Entertainment Group
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HISTORY

Although there is no literary source credited in the film, a 3 Apr 1988 LAT article reported that after screenwriter Gary Murphy viewed the 1932 British-American film The Sign of Four (see entry) four years earlier, he asked himself: “What if we’ve been fooled all along and Dr. Watson is the real genius?” The 27 Oct 1988 LAT noted that actors Sean Connery and Danny DeVito had been “suggestions” to be cast as the character “Dr. Watson,” but director Thom Eberhardt and producer Marc Stirdivant wanted actor Ben Kingsley for the role.
       Under the working title The Imposter of Baker Street, the 18 Nov 1987 Var production chart stated that principal photography began on 16 Nov 1987 in the United Kingdom. Production notes in AMPAS library files noted that filming took place throughout England, including: the Cambridge Theatre in Camden and the Empire in Hackney, both in London, which were combined into one theater; stately homes in the Victorian Crescent in Clapham, London, as well as in Syon Park in London and Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire; and the Cumbrian Lake District. A 25 Aug 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release listed additional locations in England: Bristol; Derwent Water; Gloucester; Windermere; and Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. Principal photography was completed 6 Feb 1988, as noted in the 17 Feb 1988 HR. Reports of the film’s budget varied. The 11 May 1987 DV reported a $10 million cost. However, the 3 Feb 1988 DV listed $8.5 million, referring to the new working title ... More Less

Although there is no literary source credited in the film, a 3 Apr 1988 LAT article reported that after screenwriter Gary Murphy viewed the 1932 British-American film The Sign of Four (see entry) four years earlier, he asked himself: “What if we’ve been fooled all along and Dr. Watson is the real genius?” The 27 Oct 1988 LAT noted that actors Sean Connery and Danny DeVito had been “suggestions” to be cast as the character “Dr. Watson,” but director Thom Eberhardt and producer Marc Stirdivant wanted actor Ben Kingsley for the role.
       Under the working title The Imposter of Baker Street, the 18 Nov 1987 Var production chart stated that principal photography began on 16 Nov 1987 in the United Kingdom. Production notes in AMPAS library files noted that filming took place throughout England, including: the Cambridge Theatre in Camden and the Empire in Hackney, both in London, which were combined into one theater; stately homes in the Victorian Crescent in Clapham, London, as well as in Syon Park in London and Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire; and the Cumbrian Lake District. A 25 Aug 1988 Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. press release listed additional locations in England: Bristol; Derwent Water; Gloucester; Windermere; and Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. Principal photography was completed 6 Feb 1988, as noted in the 17 Feb 1988 HR. Reports of the film’s budget varied. The 11 May 1987 DV reported a $10 million cost. However, the 3 Feb 1988 DV listed $8.5 million, referring to the new working title Sherlock and Me, and the 27 Oct 1988 LAT noted a budget of $9 million.
       As stated in the 8 Jul 1988 HR, the picture’s title was changed to Without a Clue.
       A 19 Oct 1988 HR brief reported that the film was scheduled to have a benefit screening for the Kira Foundation at the Directors Guild in Hollywood, CA, on 20 Oct 1988.
       While the film’s release date was reported by the 8 Jul 1988 HR for Nov 1988, the picture actually opened on 21 Oct 1988, as listed in the NYT review published on the same date.
       End credits state: “Special Thanks to Syon Park.” End credits also state: “‘Lady Elizabeth’ & ‘Bat’ provided by Windermere Steamboat Museum; Blenheim Palace scenes by kind permission of The Duke of Marlborough; Filmed on location in and around The Lake District, Gloucester and London, and at Shepperton Studios, and Pinewood Studios, England.” The following statement appears after end credits: “With apologies to the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 May 1987
p. 6.
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1988
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 1988
p. 5, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Apr 1988
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1988
Calendar, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
27 Oct 1988
Calendar, p. 1, 6.
New York Times
21 Oct 1988
Section C, p. 21.
Screen International
21 Nov 1987.
---
Screen International
9 Jan 1988.
---
Variety
18 Nov 1987
p. 6.
Variety
5 Oct 1988
p. 15, 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
An Orion Pictures Release
An ITC Entertainment Group presentation
An Eberhardt-Stirdivant Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod supv
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Clapper loader
Cam grip
Cam trainee
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Elec
Elec
Generator op
Stills photog
Panaflex® cameras and lenses by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Storyboard artist
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Asst set dec
Prop buyer
Prop buyer
Prop master
Dressing prop
Dressing prop
Standby prop
Standby prop
Storeman
Signwriter
Signwriter
Drapes
Const mgr
Carpenter supv
Chargehand carpenter
Chargehand stagehand
Chargehand painter
Chargehand plasterer
Chargehand rigger
Standby carpenter
Standby stagehand
Standby painter
Standby painter
Standby rigger
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward mistress
Ward asst
MUSIC
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Boom op
Sd maintenance eng
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
A.D.R. ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff sr tech
Spec eff sr tech
Spec eff sr tech
Spec eff sr tech
Spec eff sr tech
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Asst makeup artist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
Asst hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Exec in charge of prod
Los Angeles casting
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Prod coord
Los Angeles coord
Los Angeles casting asst
Post prod coord
Prod controller
Prod estimator
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Accounts asst
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Loc asst
Pub coord
Pub asst
Unit nurse
Runner
Runner
Horses and carriages
Transport
Transport
Transport
Transport
Insurers [at Ruben Sedgwick Ltd.]
Prod's secy
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit driver
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
Col timer
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Impostor of Baker Street
The Imposter of Baker Street
Sherlock and Me
Release Date:
21 October 1988
Premiere Information:
Benefit screening in Hollywood, CA: 20 October 1988
Wide release: 21 October 1988
Production Date:
16 November 1987 - 6 February 1988
Copyright Claimant:
ITC Entertainment, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
29 December 1988
Copyright Number:
PA395414
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
106-107
Length(in feet):
9,593
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29294
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Victorian London, England, Sherlock Holmes is a detective who assists Scotland Yard with his assistant, Dr. John Watson. In truth, however, Watson is the brilliant detective who created “Sherlock Holmes” as a character in magazine stories, and hired unemployed actor Reginald Kincaid to play the role in real life. After foiling an attempted robbery at the Royal Gallery, Watson and Kincaid return to their apartment at 221B Baker Street. Greeted by the press, Watson starts to speak, but reporters ignore him to hear what “Sherlock Holmes” has to say. Later, Watson asks Wiggins, the leader of the “Baker Street Irregulars,” a band of neighborhood pickpockets employed to gather information, to find out what else happened in London last night. Afterward, landlady Mrs. Hudson complains that Kincaid has been drinking excessively. Frustrated with Kincaid’s drunkenness and braggadocio, Watson fires him. Meeting with Norman Greenhough, publisher of The Strand, Watson confesses that he created “Sherlock Holmes” nine years earlier after solving a murder case, because he did not want the conservative medical college where he was awaiting a job offer to know about his involvement. With Kincaid gone, Watson wants to write stories about “John Watson: The Crime Doctor.” However, Greenhough rejects his idea because readers love Sherlock Holmes. Later, Wiggin informs Watson about a fire at the Camden Paper Mill that occurred at he same time as the Royal Gallery robbery. Interested, Watson visits the mill, but an officer informs him that he cannot investigate without Sherlock Holmes present. Returning home, Watson receives a visit from Lord Smithwick of the Treasury and Inspector G. Lestrade of Scotland Yard. When Lord Smithwick demands to speak with Sherlock ... +


In Victorian London, England, Sherlock Holmes is a detective who assists Scotland Yard with his assistant, Dr. John Watson. In truth, however, Watson is the brilliant detective who created “Sherlock Holmes” as a character in magazine stories, and hired unemployed actor Reginald Kincaid to play the role in real life. After foiling an attempted robbery at the Royal Gallery, Watson and Kincaid return to their apartment at 221B Baker Street. Greeted by the press, Watson starts to speak, but reporters ignore him to hear what “Sherlock Holmes” has to say. Later, Watson asks Wiggins, the leader of the “Baker Street Irregulars,” a band of neighborhood pickpockets employed to gather information, to find out what else happened in London last night. Afterward, landlady Mrs. Hudson complains that Kincaid has been drinking excessively. Frustrated with Kincaid’s drunkenness and braggadocio, Watson fires him. Meeting with Norman Greenhough, publisher of The Strand, Watson confesses that he created “Sherlock Holmes” nine years earlier after solving a murder case, because he did not want the conservative medical college where he was awaiting a job offer to know about his involvement. With Kincaid gone, Watson wants to write stories about “John Watson: The Crime Doctor.” However, Greenhough rejects his idea because readers love Sherlock Holmes. Later, Wiggin informs Watson about a fire at the Camden Paper Mill that occurred at he same time as the Royal Gallery robbery. Interested, Watson visits the mill, but an officer informs him that he cannot investigate without Sherlock Holmes present. Returning home, Watson receives a visit from Lord Smithwick of the Treasury and Inspector G. Lestrade of Scotland Yard. When Lord Smithwick demands to speak with Sherlock Holmes, Watson promises the detective will be back in the evening. Watson goes to the Criterion Club, finds Reginald Kincaid drunk, and offers to rehire him. The actor refuses, until the management demands that he pay his overdue bar tab. With no money, Kincaid rejoins Watson and resumes his character. At Baker Street, Lestrade and Lord Smithwick reveal that printing plates for the Bank of England’s five-pound note have been stolen, and they fear counterfeit banknotes will lead to economic ruin. As Kincaid accepts the case, Professor James Moriarty, nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, and his henchman, Sebastian, watch from across the street. Sebastian worries about Holmes, but Moriarty knows that Dr. Watson is the true detective. The following day, Watson and Kincaid meet Lestrade and Lord Smithwick at the Royal Mint and discover that printing supervisor Peter Giles is missing. Although Lord Smithwick defends Giles as a widower and father who enjoys reading the Psalms in the Bible, Watson decides to visit the supervisor at home. With Lestrade following, Watson and Kincaid find the door to Giles’s house unlocked. Seeing a pile of mail, Watson concludes that Giles has been missing for days. As Kincaid distracts Lestrade, Watson locates a piece of map with a partial word “ermere.” Watson deduces the map is for Lake Windermere in the Lake District. Arriving at the village by train, “Sherlock Holmes” is greeted by Mayor Gerald Fitzwalter Johnson. Mayor Johnson informs Holmes that Peter Giles arrived two nights earlier with a brown leather suitcase handcuffed to his wrist. He hired a boatman to take him to a rental cottage across the lake during a storm, but both men have been missing since. Kincaid and Watson check in at the Shakespeare Arms Inn. Given the “King Lear” suite, Kincaid asks Watson to switch rooms, because he had a bad experience during a production of King Lear. In the evening, Sebastian sneaks onto the balcony of Watson’s former room and loosens the railing. Returning to his room drunk, Kincaid falls through the railing, but is saved by his snagged coat. Watson hears his calls for help and saves him. Later, Watson and Kincaid visit Giles’s cottage with Mayor Johnson and police, and find the boatman dead. Kincaid believes the storm must have drowned him and Giles, and that Giles’s body and the banknote plates were lost. At the train station, Watson recognizes Sebastian, and when he tells Kincaid that Professor Moriarty must the mastermind behind the theft, Kincaid becomes frightened that Moriarty will kill him. However, Watson assures the actor that Moriarty is aware that Watson is the detective. In London, Watson and Kincaid return to Peter Giles’s home and are introduced to Leslie, Giles’s daughter, who has just returned from Paris, France. Suddenly, two men appear and attempt to kidnap her, but Watson and Kincaid chase them away. Watson sees that one of the men left behind a new Italian-made shoe. Worried for Leslie’s safety, Kincaid invites her to spend the night at Baker Street. As Kincaid sleeps, Watson inspects the shoe and notices mud from the banks of the Thames River. Suspecting that Leslie is not Peter Giles’s daughter, he sends a telegram to Paris to confirm his suspicions. In the morning, Lord Smithwick and Inspector Lestrade thank “Sherlock Holmes” for his work on the case. but Watson announces that Giles was kidnapped, and that they will return him and the five-pound plates in three days. Watson believes the theft of the plates and the arson at the Camden Paper Mill are connected. At the docks, he shows Kincaid that the Italian shoe of Leslie’s would-be kidnapper was stolen from a crate as he waited for a German ship to arrive. However, the ship was delayed by two days, and by the time it finally arrived, casks of printing ink were unloaded. Watson explains that Moriarty plans to print counterfeit notes with the stolen plates and paper. Moriarty appears, and Watson fires his revolver at him. Moriarty flees in his boat, and as Watson jumps into the river, Moriarty shoots him. Kincaid dives in to save Watson, but is unable to find him. Returning to 221B Baker Street, Kincaid tells Mrs. Hudson and Leslie about Watson’s death. Although depressed, Kincaid decides to avenge Watson by finding Moriarty using the skills Watson talked and wrote about. Later, Wiggins arrives with a five-pound note he found in the river carrying a three-digit serial number “234.” Mrs. Hudson exclaims that it may be a clue, and Kincaid recalls that Peter Giles was fond of the Psalms. Looking up Psalm Twenty-three, verse four, he is struck by the phrase “in the Shadow of Death,” and Kincaid announces that Peter Giles is being held at the closed Orpheum Theatre, built above the Fleet River. When asked how he came to his conclusion, Kincaid states that the last production staged at the Orpheum was Shadow of Death, featuring himself, Reginald Kincaid. Kincaid takes Mrs. Hudson and Wiggins to the theater, while Leslie offers to go to Scotland Yard. As Kincaid and Mrs. Hudson sneak inside, Wiggins decides to get the police himself. Leaving Mrs. Hudson behind, Kincaid finds the stage trapdoor and descends to an underground passage. Suddenly, he sees Peter Giles and a large pile of counterfeit notes. Moriarty appears and tells Giles he found several three-digit banknotes floating in the river. When Leslie arrives, announcing that “Sherlock Holmes” is on his way, Moriarty threatens to kill Giles and the real Lesley, who is being kept prisoner. Dr. Watson suddenly appears, alive, and Kincaid, shocked, accidently kicks over a kerosene lamp. The banknotes erupt in flames. Watson grabs the printing plates and Kincaid rescues Lesley. Removing the blindfold, Kincaid realizes Lesley is actually Giles’s son, dressed in women’s clothes. Moriarty tries to escape by boat, but the fire causes an explosion. Later, Lord Smithwick thanks “Sherlock Holmes” and Watson for recovering the plates and rescuing Peter Giles. The men insist it was easy to figure out Giles’s clue about the Psalm on the banknote. However, Giles reveals that the number was actually a reference to the theater’s address. Inspector Lestrade flirts with Giles’s “daughter,” until Watson informs him that Lesley is a male performer from the Parisian show “La Femme Faux.” Afterward, Watson and Kincaid return to 221B Baker Street and are greeted by reporters. Kincaid announces that he could not have solved the case without his friend, Dr. Watson. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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