Let the games begin! In honor of the release of Ryan Johnson's Glass Onion, The Unenthusiastic Critic is sitting down for her first viewing of two clever mysteries that inspired the Knives Out franchise: Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Sleuth (1972), starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine; and Herbert Ross's The Last of Sheila (1973), starring Richard Benjamin, James Mason, Joan Hackett, Dyan Cannon, Raquel Welch, Ian McShane, and James Coburn.
Both inspired by real-life mystery parties hosted by the great Stephen Sondheim, Sleuth and The Last of Sheila each open with an invitation from a wealthy and eccentric puppet master with a penchant for elaborate games. Featuring plenty of tricks, twists, turns, clues, barbs, betrayals, and bodies, together these two who- and how-dunits demonstrate how game-playing can be psychological warfare, and elevate audience-deception to a fine art.
Will The Unenthusiastic Critic be able to untangle the mysteries? Or will she simply conclude that rich White people should really find better ways to spend their time and money?
0:00: Prologue: from Sleuth
00:37: Introduction and Pre-Viewing Discussion of Sleuth
11:31: Interlude: Original Trailer for Sleuth
13:26: The Verdict I: Post-Viewing Discussion of Sleuth
47:56: Interlude: from The Last of Sheila
49:03: Pre-Viewing Discussion of The Last of Sheila
55:04: Interlude: Original Trailer for The Last of Sheila
57:39: The Verdict II: Post-Viewing Discussion of The Last of Sheila
1:31:37: Outro and Next Week's Movie
Notes and Links
—Movies Reviewed: Sleuth (dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Palomar, 1972) and The Last of Sheila (dir. Herbert Ross, Warner Bros., 1973).
—Links and Sources: "Deconstructing Sondheim," Stephen Schiff, The New Yorker; Reviews of Sleuth and The Last of Sheila, Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com.
—Find additional episodes, leave a comment, or make a donation to support the podcast at unaffiliatedcritic.com.
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—"Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby is licensed under CC BY 3.0.