Sleuth (1972) is the greatest mystery movie ever filmed, and they are about to come out with a remake. In 1972, there was a perfect storm of magnificent talent that came together to film a little play. The playwright became a screenwriter, the incredible Joseph L. Mankiewicz (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, All About Eve) was set to direct, and arguably the two best actors of their generations, Michael Caine and Sir Laurence Olivier came together to give an acting clinic for the ages.
It was a truly amazing screenplay, with layers and layers of subtext, great twists and surprises, all beautifully realized by Caine and Olivier in a two-person tour de force. (An overused phrase, but no other description suffices.)
So who in their right mind would want to remake such a classic? Well, hold on to your seats, folks. Actor/director Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Frankenstein) is helming the project. Famed playwright, Nobel Laureate for Literature and screenwriter (French Lieutenant’s Woman), Harold Pinter has written the screenplay. And Michael Caine is playing the Olivier role in the remake, opposite Jude Law.
Remakes in general, make me pretty leery. I actually get ill listening to Michael Bolton singing Ray Charles’ ?Georgia?. But Ocean’s 11 and The Italian Job showed that remakes can sometimes be better than the original. I don’t believe there is any danger of that happening here, but it certainly looks worth a look.
Do yourself a favor, though, and see the ’72 version. Unfortunately, the executive brain trust at the studio is not releasing a special DVD edition to coincide with the new release (What is WRONG with you people?). But do some sleuthing of your own and find it at your local video store.
Sleuth 2007 trailer
Sleuth 1972 trailer
Sleuth 2007 comes out in limited release this Friday, Oct. 12.