John Landis and Tom Stoppard Correspondence Regarding Clue Movie Script - 1982, 1983
In late 1982, John Landis attempted to persuade Tom Stoppard, a noted script writer who later wrote Shakespeare in Love, to write the movie Clue. The following copied materials provide insight into this process.

1) Dated October 24, 1982, a six page letter written on TWA - In Flight stationary from John Landis to Tom Stoppard praises his earlier work and asks what it will take to have Stoppard write Clue. Landis promises to call him in a week to discuss the matter further.

2) Dated January 22, 1983, a two page telegram from Sean Daniel, the executive vice president of Universal Studios in charge of overseeing the production of Clue, to Tom Stoppard as a letter of introduction and includes details in regard to a meeting set with John Landis for the weekend of February 5th and 6th. Note: Clue was eventually produced through Paramount Pictures.

3) Dated January 26, 1983, a one page telegram from Sean Daniel to Tom Stoppard confirming flight, car, and hotel arrangements for the meeting with John Landis.

4) Dated February 22, 1983, a one page letter written on Universal Studios stationary from Jill Craven to Tom Stoppard reimbursing $2937.33 for airfare for the meeting with John Landis as well as requests completion of a MCA employee data form.

5) Dated March 6, 1983, a four page letter written on La Sumanna hotel stationary from John Landis reassuring Tom Stoppard (who is apparently having difficulty with the script). Landis mentions having his secretary send a copy of a transcript of their meeting. He further suggests that perhaps the crimes of the movie are unsolvable - "Kafka meets the 3 stooges". He further asks if moving the location of the movie back to England (or Bombay, Hong Kong, Detroit, Paris, Golders Green) would make it easier.

6) Dated March 11, 1983, a nine page transcript of a conversation between John Landis and Tom Stoppard regarding "Clue". The transcript basically consists of John Landis explaining the movie to Stoppard. He has the story pretty much worked. It was to be a country-house sort of mystery which follows pretty closely to the end-result movie. Some of the differences include:
  • The movie was intended to play in "real time". Thus the events in the 90 minute movie would have taken 90 minutes in real time.
  • The movie was to take place in Palm Beach Florida in the 1950s because no movies have really explored that time period and for the bizarre clothing options.
  • John Landis points out that he imagines an English butler and keeps thinking of John Cleese. The butler is thus called Cleese. Yvette and the cook also have their respective roles.
  • Mrs. Peacock is the Senator's wife, but was Mr. Boddy's first wife.
  • Mrs. White is Mr. Boddy's fiancee (and, of course, a widow whose husband died under mysterious circumstances).
  • Miss Scarlet is Mr. Boddy's mistress - his relationship with all three women was to be a catalyst to the story.
  • Professor Plum is a bookie - a shady gangster type who either is owed money by Boddy or owes him money.
  • Colonel Mustard and Mr. Boddy were old army buddies and war profiteers together.
  • Mr. Green is not explained...
  • There is a hurricane brewing and the guests might have to spend the night.
  • At dinner, Boddy gives the guests their "presents". He then leaves the room and goes to the Conservatory to have sex with Yvette. The guests open their gifts and, deciding Mr. Boddy isn't coming back, go in search of him. They find him with Yvette. Suddenly the lights go out and Mr. Boddy is killed.
  • Cleese, the butler, provides an envelope that reads, "To be read aloud in the event of my untimely demise". It contains blackmail evidence: photos of Senator Peacock dressed as a Nazi with Yvette tied to a chair, Miss Scarlet in a stag film, etc. Boddy's note instructs them that if his killer is not uncovered by midnight and phoned to his lawyer by 12:02, then copies of the blackmail evidence will be sent to the New York Times by 12:30. It also points out that Mr. Green is innocent (Landis points out that there is no real reason for this statement. It is just odd.) When they split up to search the house, everybody wants to go with Mr. Green.
  • There were to be five murders - all in the movie - with the exception of the Singing Telegram who does not appear in this proposal.
  • The only weapon not used is the revolver. Thus the killer is the one who has the revolver.
  • Four endings were decided upon due to the ease of reel distribution. The murderers would be: Mrs. Peacock, (she killed Boddy because he knew that she was a communist), a conspiracy of four people, Cleese, and the Police Officer.
  • The movie would contain many conversations between suspects that could either be innocuous or prove guilt. When Cleese is recounting the evening, he would point out a particular conversation in each ending - thus providing the means to have a different killer in each ending.

    7) Dated March 22, 1983, a two page letter from Tom Stoppard. Stoppard writes that he has completed half of the script and is unhappy with the result. He did not like the way the story was progressing and found the set-up of the puzzle much more difficult than anticipated. He declines to finish the script pointing out that this is the first time he has not completed a project he has undertaken.

    8) Dated April 4, 1983, a one page letter from John Landis to Tom Stoppard accepts Stoppard resignation from the project with great friendliness noting that "everything will be alright."