Without a Clue
is a 1988 comedy film, the premise of which is that Dr. Watson (Ben Kingsley
) created the fictional character Sherlock Holmes so that he could solve crimes incognito. His published case journals were so popular that he was obliged to hire an out-of-work actor, Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine
) to play Holmes. However, he soon discovers that Kincaid is a bumbling, gambling, womanizing drunkard who takes all the credit for solving crimes.
This film provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: the whole damned thing.
- Ash Face: this happens to Holmes as a result of tinkering with Watson's experiment.
- At the Opera Tonight: The final showdown takes place in a theatre.
- The Artful Dodger
- Bad Boss: Moriarty abandons Sebastian to be arrested at the end.
- Bat Deduction: A mysterious number is given, and Sherlock Holmes uses a few long and complicated leaps of logic to deduce that it means a specific warehouse. At the end Holmes and Watson explain to the person who left the clue how they figured it out, leading to a sudden Crowning Moment of Funny - the victim reveals that the number was simply the address of the warehouse he was being held at.
- Becoming the Mask
- Big Damn Heroes: Lestrade and his men try nobly at the end, but end up failing miserably and having to dive for cover when the fake Leslie pulls a gun on them.
- Chekhov's Gun: Kincaid's production of 'The Shadow Of Death' allows him to finish the case, although it was for totally the wrong reasons.
- Diagonal Cut
- The Dragon: Sebastian.
- Did You Die?: Reginald does a variation where he folds it into his own telling.
- External Retcon
- Fake Ultimate Hero
- Faking the Dead: Watson.
- Femme Fatale
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Sebastian has a knife scar down one side of his face.
- Hidden Depths: After messing up for most of the movie, Holmes proves to be quite skilled at fencing at the showdown, holding his own against Moriarty.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Sherlock Holmes is actually an incompetent stooge that fronts for Watson, the true detective.
- Knife Nut: Sebastian's preferred weapons are switchblades and throwing knives.
- Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Happens to a Mook Kincaid fights with.
- Narm: In-Universe, the reaction to Kincaid in The Shadow of Death.
Reginald Kincaid: The Shadow of Death. The gripping drama was the last play presented at the Orpheum. It closed after only one night, but not without garnering some praise. Harris in the Daily Telegram said, 'In an otherwise dismal evening, Reginald Kincaid provided some welcome laughs.'
Wiggins: 'Welcome laughs'? You said it was a gripping drama!
Reginald Kincaid: Well that doesn't matter now, does it?
- No Name Given: Lysette Anthony's character masquerades as Leslie Giles for most of the movie, but her real name is never revealed. The credits list her simply as Fake Leslie.
- Railing Kill: Sebastian sabotages the balcony railing of Holmes' hotel room, causing it to break when Holmes leans on it. Subverted in that he survives the attempt.
- Red Herring: The Windermere events.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Holmes and Watson running away as the theater is about to explode.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Moriarty's Mooks prove entirely unwilling to die for their boss in the burning theater, and promptly exit stage left.
- Sherlock Holmes
- Sherlock Scan: Played with in so many ways.
- Someone's Touching My Butt: Holmes is able to deduce the identity of the groper, because he did it. Then he does it again.
- Suicide as Comedy: After believing that Watson is dead, Kincaid tries to hang himself, and of course bungles it.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: After realising they've both completely misunderstood the clue the printer left for them, Watson quietly tells Holmes not to worry; he'll change their deduction for the Strand story on the case.
- Take My Hand: Watson has to rescue Holmes as he dangles from a sabotaged balcony.
- The Ditz: Holmes. Also Lestrade.
- The Watson: Holmes again. At least, for most of the movie. Explicitly not Watson.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: The real Leslie Giles.
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal
Real Leslie: You're disappointed, aren't you?
- Useful Book:
Holmes: "I have a Bible! It's at my bedside." [gets it out from under the leg of his bed that it was keeping from wobbling]