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Laurence Olivier , Michael Caine , Joseph L. Mankiewicz    VHS Tape
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Wicked, nasty, delicious fun. Laurence Olivier is a wealthy, veddy English mystery writer. He invites Michael Caine to his elaborate country house, in order to settle some rather unpleasant business between them: Caine is having an affair with Olivier's wife, and she is about to divorce the older man. Olivier, smooth as brandy, suggests that there might be a way the two men can help each other, but what appears to be an intriguing proposition escalates into a deadly cat-and-mouse game. Sleuth boasts a twisty script by Anthony Shaffer, calculated to drive an audience to distraction; and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve) shows a keen eye for the telling detail. But the real fun is watching Olivier and Caine go at each other hammer and tongs, a virtuoso wrestling match between two splendid actors (both were Oscar-nominated, but lost to Marlon Brando in The Godfather). Alec Cawthorne is also quite good as the inquisitive inspector on the case. --Robert Horton

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Sleuth" stars Michael Caine as the young hair-dresser "Milo Tindle" and Laurence Olivier as an upper-crust mystery writer "Andrew Wyke".
Michael Caine is having an affair with the wife of Andrew Wyke. Wyke invites Milo to his country manor to discuss a plan whereby Milo would "rob" Wyke of some expensive jewels, sell them to a pre-arranged fence in Amsterdam, and get enough money to afford Wyke's wife, thus freeing up Wyke to live with his own mistress (and get the insurance money for the stolen jewels.)
Wyke outlines the complexities of the plan, which involve Milo dressing in different clothes, breaking into the house, blowing up a safe, etc, to make it appear to be a legitimate robbery.
There are many appealing aspects to the movie. First is the character of Andrew Wyke, a famous writer of a series of detective-fiction wherein the main character, Lord Merridew, always outwits the rather bumbling police force to solve the crime. Second is Wyke's hobbies, which run the gamut from an ancient chess-like board game, a jigsaw puzzle that is only a white rectangle, and various assorted collectibles such as a full-sized animated sailor dummy. Wyke's gameplaying attitude is extended to the plan of the fake robbery. The third compelling aspect of the movie is the witty, sparring dialogue between Wyke and Tindle.
Although at first, the two characters try to maintain a slightly forced friendly rivaly, but as the robbery unfolds, it becomes clear that Wyke in fact resents Milo and his wife's affair, and is actually setting up Milo to be killed as a burglar. In a series of plot twists I won't reveal, Wyke humiliates Tindle and sends him away. However, Tindle gets the last laugh, literally, in the end.
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The idea of a movie with only two actors in it may not sound overly exciting, but when you watch "Sleuth" for the first time, you realize that it couldn't have worked any other way. For many years, "Sleuth" has been one of my favorite movies, and remains so to this day. It is cleverly written and superbly acted by both Michael Caine (my all time favorite actor) and Sir Laurence Olivier.
The tag line "Think of the perfect crime...then go one step further" describes exactly what the movie is all about. Olivier plays Andrew Wyke, an eccentric and revered mystery writer invites Milo Tindle (Caine) over to his mansion over a weekend in order to discuss the terms of his affair with his wife. Wyke is known as a lover of toys, games, and deviously cunning games of trickery that he plays on people. Wyke has known for some time that Tindle has been having an affair with his wife, and that he intends to marry her. Wyke sees an opportunity to unload his wife, without the possibility of her coming back and getting deeper into his pocketbook. Knowing him to be broke, Wyke proposes to Tindle a robbery scheme that will solve both of their problems. Things got a bit awry. What happens next would be criminal to give away, but it is one of the most brilliantly crafted farces I have ever seen in a movie.
"Sleuth" was adapted from the stage play by Anthony Shaffer, and it plays out very much like the play itself. There is one setting, two actors, and lots of dialogue. It works very well, because it wasn't overdone in production. I cannot see how this could have worked with a more elaborate setting or cast. What carries the movie are the performances by Caine and Olivier, which ranks among their personal best (and picking ones from such distinguished careers is hard).
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5.0 out of 5 stars St. John Lord Merridew's "Death by Double Fault" Dec 14 2003
Sleuth is Anthony Schaffer's play of mystery and murder brought to the screen. If you are an Oxford scholar you will have no problem with this film. Others may require a dictionary as this is a very erudite work. You also cannot blink, cough, or let your mind wander for a moment or you will lose your place as to what is happening. I say these things because they are true and because it is one of the most intelligent scripts ever brought to the screen. I can only compare the "Brideshead Revisited" script that was done by John Mortimer to match this production from 1972. Michael Caine was at his best, and although Oliver's performance on screen seems top notch, if you have read anything on the making of this film it was reported that he had trouble learning his lines among other distractions. The SETS on this film are memorable! VERY EXPENSIVE and CUSTOM games are everywhere.The music is VERY atmospheric, from the harpsichord improvs to the old Cole Porter tunes. Unusual in that it features only two men without the mandatory love interest that pervades every American picture but their duels do concern a love relationship with women of mutual acquaintance. Oliver is a mystery writer who has a character, St. John Lord Merridew solve all the plots ala' Hercule Poirot. The play and film are tributes to the classic detective fiction of the golden age of the 1930's. "Where every cabinet minister had a thriller by his beside and all detectives were titled." He uses his talent in mystery to entice and trap Michael Caine (his wife's current lover) in a series of games of death within the mansion meant to scorn and ridicule by upper class methods and put a trumped up pantry boy in his place! Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars superb acting
This is a classic drama, full of twists and turns, which is one of the best movies I have ever seen! Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2012 by tara
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
this is a hard to find movie but anyone who is a fan would be very happy to have it in there collection. a little pricey but delivered quickly.
Published on Nov. 1 2011 by jessica beauprez
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun & Games With Two Fine Actors
1972's Sleuth is literally a two-man show, with Olivier and Caine matching each other scene for scene in this lengthy 2-hour, 18-minute story revolving around some rather unusual... Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2002 by David Von Pein
5.0 out of 5 stars A virtual feast in the artform known as acting
Simply put, Sleuth leaves me in awe after every viewing. To watch Olivier and Michael Caine, who reportedly was a little nervous squaring off agaist the master, is like watching an... Read more
Published on Sept. 8 2002 by Adam F. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars New and Improved DVD!
For those of you who have been disappointed by the version of Sleuth in the white box, take heart and trade up to the black one. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2002 by William M. Begert
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE NEW & IMPROVED DVD EDITION!!!
Most of the reviews here refer to the OLD DVD edition (notice they are all from 2000 or before). The edition offered here is NEW, and a vast improvement. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Caine looks like he needs beans
This is a great movie that will keep you guessing and in suspense. The entire movie takes place in one house, making it quite like a play. Both Olivier and Caine are splendid. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2001 by Kevin Parrish Claussen
5.0 out of 5 stars Games Within Games Within Games...
Okay, this is the serious stuff here. Movies like Sleuth are the reason I love movies -- the reason anybody should love movies, now that I think of it. Why, you ask? Read more
Published on March 30 2001 by Phrodoe
5.0 out of 5 stars The viewer can only watch and be enthralled
The 1972 release, SLEUTH, is one of those movies that one watches, and then exclaims, "Wow!"
Michael Caine plays Milo Tindle, a lowborn, cheeky hairdresser called down from... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2001 by Joseph Haschka
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sleuth" was actually released in '73 NOT '68......
This film was actually released in 1973, not in 1968 as stated above. It simply is one of the greatest films ever made. A real suspense roller coaster ride! Read more
Published on April 15 2000
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