Sleuth

  • Directors: Joseph L Mankiewicz
  • Producers: Morton Gottlieb
  • Writers: Anthony Shaffer
  • Genres: Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine

Andrew Wyke is a wealthy, unhappily married country squire and writer of detective novels who delights in playing elaborate games. Aware that Milo Tindle, the struggling owner of two hair salons, is having an affair with his wife, Marguerite, Wyke invites him to his country manor house in Wiltshire. Wyke is also having an affair with a girl named Teija and is quite happy to divorce his wife. His main concern is that Tindle, a struggling businessman, will be unable to maintain Marguerite in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed, and that she’ll leave him and return to Wyke.

Wyke suggests that Tindle steal some valuable jewelry and sell it in order to live happily with Marguerite, while Wyke will claim the insurance in order to live happily with Teija. When Tindle agrees, Wyke offers him a disguise in case of unexpected visitors and, dressed up as a clown and under Wyke’s supervision, Tindle breaks into Wyke’s manor house, blows open the safe and obtains the jewels.

Wyke then reveals that he has lured Tindle into a trap whereupon he can legally shoot him as an intruder. Wyke’s real grievance is that his wife has been having an affair with a working-class boy made good rather than a member of the upper classes like himself (Tindle’s Italian origins make him even worse in Wyke’s eyes). He looks upon Tindle as nothing more than a gigolo, “a jumped-up pantry boy who doesn’t know his place”. While Tindle begs for mercy, Wyke fires the gun and he falls to the floor.

Within a few moments, a police car, with lights flashing, reaches Wyke’s front door, and someone begins to knock. Wyke tries to retreat away from the window to avoid being seen, while Tindle, bleeding profusely and barely able to crawl, grabs the switch wired to the entirety of Wyke’s large collection of mechanical toys, which come violently to life and attract the attention of the police. As the screen fades out, Wyke realizes that he is ruined, and the dying Tindle laughs and says mockingly, “Andrew… be sure and tell them… it was only a bloody game.”

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