"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.
A long-time favorite movie of mine, it earned best actor nominations for both Olivier and Caine, and a nomination for director Mankiewicz. The DVD has a 23 minute "interview" by playwright Anthony Shaffer, chapters and a trailer.