Sleuth [1972]

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Runtime: 138 minutes

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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