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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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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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
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 morePublished on Oct. 20 2002 by David Von Pein
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 morePublished on Sept. 8 2002 by Adam F. Martin
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 morePublished on Feb. 14 2002 by William M. Begert
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 morePublished on Feb. 13 2002
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 morePublished on Dec 11 2001 by Kevin Parrish Claussen
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 morePublished on March 30 2001 by Phrodoe
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