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Sleuth (1972)

Sleuth is a curious film, essentially a two-man show with plenty of dialogue but very little action.

Anthony Shaffer’s elaborate role-playing stage play is adapted by its author into this gripping thriller from director Joseph L. Manciewicz that never lets go of the viewer.

Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine are two British actors at their best who were nominated for Academy Awards for their powerful performances.

Andrew Wyke (Olivier) is regarded as one of the world’s foremost authors of mystery novels. He is also a fanatic game player who has converted his magnificent 16th-century manor into a gallery of robots, performing dolls, dartboards, chess sets and mazes.

One afternoon Wyke invites Milo Tindle (Caine) to join him for cocktails. Milo is a former East-End hairdresser who now owns a chain of hair salons and is having an affair with Wyke’s estranged wife Marguerite.

At first, Milo enjoys his visit – until Wyke reveals that he’s aware of Milo’s affair with his wife, and draws his guest into a web of intrigue and gamesmanship that spirals out of both men’s hands.

Rather than being angry, Wyke advises Milo that he will need a significant source of income to keep Marguerite happy, and suggests Milo steal an assortment of his wife’s jewellery, then fence the belongings for cash.

To Milo, it sounds like the perfect plan, but is in effect merely the beginning of an escalating game of one-upmanship between the two men. Milo’s revenge is acted out ever so courteously, but from psychological sparring, it soon becomes a game of deadly cat-and-mouse between the two protagonists.

The film has so many plot twists that the viewer is kept guessing right up until the very end.

Andrew Wyke
Laurence Olivier
Milo Tindle

Michael Caine
Detective Sergeant Tarrant

John Matthews
Marguerite Wyke

Eve Channing
Police Constable Higgs

Teddy Martin

Joseph L Mankiewicz