The movie is about a group of people who are invited to a dinner party under mysterious circumstances to discuss shady matters with the person who is blackmailing them all. The main character is the butler, Wadsworth(Tim Curry), who is the first to arrive at the mansion, Hill House, on a dark and rainy night. He is a relatively young man with brown hair, a very distinctive voice(as Curry is known for), about 6 feet tall, slender, and dressed in butlers attire. Wadsworth meets with the french maid, in Nationality and dress, and the cook, plump dressed in a light blue dress, to insure everything is prepared for the guests, each guest had received a mysterious invitation for the dinner party.
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There are several secondary characters who arrive at a later time and are all instructed to use false names to protect their true identities. The first to arrive is Colonel Mustard. Mustard is dressed professionally in a three piece suit and coat. When he arrives he is not sure is the host knows about his arrival but is assured by Wadsworth that Mustard is expected. After a short conversation Wadsworth leads Colonel Mustard to what appears to be a library where Yvette, the maid is pouring champagne. Yvette is instructed to give the Colonel whatever he needs within reason and then the doorbell rings.
The next arrival is Mrs. White, a pale awkward woman dressed in a black dress and hat with a veil. When Mrs. White is lead to the library it is clear she has met Yvette somewhere before by their reactions to each other.
The next scene is of a dark foggy road with a woman stooping over a broken down old car. She is bent over the car clearly trying to fix it. A passerby stops his car and after a short conversation the two discover they are both heading to the same place. They decide to ride together.
However, Mrs. Peacock, an eccentrically dress woman with glasses, is the next to arrive. After her is Mr. Greene, a kind of mousy man also dress for a party in a three piece suit. It is discovered that everyone is there to meet a Mr. Body. Soon after that Professor Plum,an average looking man in glasses, attired in a three piece suit and over coat, and Ms. Scarlet(Susan Surrandon), a pretty, thin woman dressed in a provocative green dress, arrive together. Plum fondles Scarlet much to her distaste. Wadsworth opens the door seeing Plums hand on Scarlet's' backside he comments that he did not know the two were accounted. Scarlet says "we weren't". Wadsworth leads the pair to the library where everyone else is drinking champagne.
Yvette offers the new arrivals a drink and it is evident the maid knows Ms. Scarlet. Wadsworth addresses the room. It becomes evident everyone is using a pseudonym and the the gong rings for dinner frightening everyone. As everyone finds their places there is some light conversation and some foreshadowing of death and some question as to why they are all there but no answer is given. Everyone starts dinner without the final guest who everyone thought was the host. The question of who the host is is in the air. Mrs Peacock makes it evident she is a motor mouth breaking the ice and everyone begins talking about themselves learning some interesting things about each other. Some clues about some of the guests connection to each other are dropped during dinner. There is lot of history and foreshadowing revealed. Most of the guests are Washingtonians or are connected to Washington and the government.
Mr. Body arrives soon after an angered outburst. Mr. Body realizes that there are people in his house and he refuses dinner. It is evident Wadsworth received a letter too and it details in part why everyone has been assembled at the house. It is obvious that Mr. Body is blackmailing everyone in the room and is to stop doing so, to Mr. Bodys' surprise. The true host is still unknown. Dinner ends and everyone adjourns to the study for coffee and brandy and hopefully more information. The only thing in the study is a note for Wadsworth to read. He is instructed to explain to everyone what is going on.
Mr. Body attempts to leave but there is not way out. There is an uproar which is quashed and everyone is instructed to go back to the study. Mr. Body attempts to escape again finding only vicious dogs to keep him in. He ends up back in the study with everyone else. It is revealed that Mr. Body is blackmailing everyone. Some details are revealed about the group and why they are being blackmailed.
Professor Plum was a psychiatrist who slept with a patient. Mrs. Peacock was taking bribes for information which she apparently didn't do. Ms. Scarlet runs a whorehouse. Colonel Mustard is speculated about. He may have been a visitor to the whorehouse. Mrs. White killed her husband or so people think and she paid to keep the scandal out of the papers. Mr. Greene is homosexual paying to keep that a secret and he reveals this himself. It becomes evident Mr. Bodys' blackmailing of everyone angers the group. A fight between the Colonel and Mr. Body ensues but is quickly broken up.
"The police are coming!" Wadsworth exclaims sending the group into a frenzy. Wadsworth suggests everyone tell the police how Mr. Body is able to blackmail them and tells them their troubles will be over if they do. No one is agreeable to that idea. Wadsworth tells the crowd the conversation is being tape recorded and the camera switches to Yvette and a rolling tape recorder in the billiard room. The group has 45 minutes before the police arrive to decide what to do. Mr. Body goes to the hall and gets his bag. He reveals he knew about the meeting and everyone thinks the bag has evidence in it but instead it has weapons. A candle stick, a rope, a pipe, a wrench, a gun, and a knife are revealed. Mr. Body suggests someone kill Wadsworth with the weapons they are given, giving them a way out of humiliating themselves.
After giving the "kill Wadsworth" speech he turns off the light and you hear a decided thunk on the floor. You see a flash and hear a gun shot. Then you hear a scream and the lights come back on. Mr. Body is on the floor face first. Mr. Plum tells everyone to stand back as he checks the dead mans pulse. Mr. Body is dead. Even though a shot was fired there is question over how Mr. Body was killed since there is no wound. Now there is a murder among the group. There is a suggestion that the brandy Mr. body was drinking was poisoned but it is debunked after others who drank the brandy, in the room, don't die.
There is a scream heard outside of the room and everyone goes to investigate. It is Yvette who is listening to the recording in the billiard room. She had some of the brandy and is concerned about her own possible demise. Yvette suggests the murderer is among the group and is frightened. If you notice Mrs. Peacock is gone during the scramble. Yvette is invited to go back to the study with the others and Wadsworth dismantles the recording device.
Wadsworth returns to the study with everyone else revealing that what has happened is not what he intended making it evident he set the whole thing up. It is then revealed that Wadsworth was not Mr. Body's current butler and that Wadworths' wife committed suicide because Mr. Body was blackmailing her as he was everyone because he thought they were all UnAmerican. Wadworth was going to put a stop to it all by forcing the victims to turn Mr. Body in to the police but that ended in Mr. Bodys murder. The question of who killed Mr. Body is still up in the air and everyone has 39 minutes at that point to figure out who-dun-it. After a round of finger pointing no admits that they did it and suggests the cook was the culprit.
Everyone goes to the kitchen to find the cook but they find her dead in the walk in freezer with a knife in her back. More questions and another rounds of finger pointing ensues. If you are paying attention you will notice Professor Plum, and Mrs. Peacock arrive late, and Yvette, is still missing. Wadsworth suggest they take the cook's body into the study. When they do they find that Mr. Body is gone. Everyone starts looking for him. It is suggested that Mr. Body was not dead. Mrs. Peacock excuses herself to use the ladies room. Some evidence involving Yvette, Ms. Scarlet, and Colonel Mustard is found and Wadsworth explains he was going to give it back after Mr. Body was unmasked as the blackmailer.
The camera switches over to a newly bloodied Mr. Body falling out of the powder room startling Mrs. Peacock. He is clearly dead this time. Everyone runs to investigate the screaming. Mrs. Peacock faints in the hall. Wadsworth, upset that nothing seems to be making sense, begins shouting about it and is hit on the head with the candle stick that was sitting on the ledge above the bathroom. Everyone goes back to the study where the bodies are piling up. Another round of finger pointing and speculation passes. Wadsworth decides to lock all of the weapons Mr. Body brought and distributed in the cupboard but he only collects the gun, the rope, the wrench and the lead pipe. There is some concern about Wadsworth being the murderer but Wadsworth says the weapons have to be out of the way someplace or the murderer(s) will have access to more weapons. Wadsworth agrees to throw away the key. Everyone follows him to the front door where a motorist was just about to knock. The motorists' car broke down and he wanted to use the phone. The group confers with each other as Wadsworth puts the key back in his pocket. They agree to let the motorist use the phone and lock him in the lounge. Colonel Mustard remembers the key and the group wishes Wadsworth to throw it away. He goes back to the front door and throws a key out into the yard.
Wadsworth asks the group what they should do now. Msr. White asks to leave but Wadsworth refuses to let her out because he feels they are all in the mess together at that point. Mrs. Peacock threatens Mrs. White. Mrs. White threatens Wadsworth. Everyone goes into the study for brandy deciding to stay together. Colonel Mustard gets the run around when he asks whether someone ,other than the guests,is in the house or not. There is a discussion about the motorist. Colonel Mustard suggests everyone pairs up and split up to search the house. They draw lots for partners taking their chances. Mustard is with Scarlet to her disappointment. Wadsworth is with Mrs. White. Yvette with Mr. Greene to his displeasure. Mr. Plum with Mrs. Peacock. Plum and Peacock are to search the cellar. The Colonel and Scarlet have the first floor. Yvette and Greene go upstairs with Wadsworth and Mrs. White to search the upper floors. Everyone is reluctant and scared. Scarlet and Mustard spend time apart,while serching, and are the only ones to do so.
There is a scene where a police car is driving by the motorists' car. The next scene is of a gloved hand gathering evidence with Colonel Mustard in photographs and the recordings from earlier in the evening and the person is putting the evidence in the fireplace. The gloved hand also uses a key to open the cupboard containing the weapons. The next scene is of an African American police officer shining a flash light into the window of the abandoned car of the motorist. The camera switches again to the motorist in the locked lounge. As he is talking to someone about how scared he is it becomes evident he is also connected to someone at the mansion. The fireplace revolves revealing a secret passage to the room. Before he can reveal who it is he is hit over the head with the wrench and falls on the floor dead. A gloved hand replaces the phone on the hook.
Meanwhile, everyone else is searching the house still and the officer is finishing up his inspection of the abandoned car. Colonel Mustard and Ms. Scarlet decide to inspect a secret passage they found. It leads to the lounge where they discover the dead motorist. Upset they start screaming. Everyone responds and comes running to help. Wadsworth realizes he doesn't have the key for the room anymore and Wadsworth tries to break the door down unsuccessfully. Yvette has an idea and goes to the open cupboard in the study and retrieves the gun. She runs out into the hall tripping over Wadsworth and accidentally shooting the support for the chandelier. After she rights herself she shoots the lock off of the door and the pair inside are released.
Ironically the chandelier falls as Colonel Mustard proclaims he cannot take anymore surprises Mustard and Scarlet explain how they came to find the dead man. Yvette explains how she came by the gun and everyone goes into the study to see that the cupboard that is somehow mysteriously unlocked. In the scramble the gun is dropped. Accusations fly as the doorbell rings. Everyone hopes the person will leave but he does not. It is the officer. He is looking for the motorist who abandoned his car.
The officer asks to use the phone after getting the run around about the now dead motorist. Since most of the rooms with phones in them have murder victims in them he is asked to wait in the library. Wadsworth explains that their nervousness was caused by the chandelier falling before locking the officer into the library. Everyone argues about what to do now in the hall.
Meanwhile the officer answers mysterious call from J. Edgar Hoover. He threatens the group until he is released and he questions the group. Wadsworth takes the call. The officers request to look around is nervously obliged but no answers are given. Mr. Greene is volunteered to escort/stall the officer while the other guests clean up the bodies. The dead are placed in a way that makes them look like they are still alive. After a short conversation with Wadsworth the unsuspecting cop asks to use the phone again and is obliged.
Again the group stands out in the hall and discusses what to do and it is revealed they had not finished searching the house and they only have 15 minutes to figure out what to do about everything. They pair up in their original pairs again. Scarlet and Mustard go to the kitchen where Scarlet finds another secret path in the freezer. They explore the path and they discover it leads to the study where the original murder was thought to be committed,.
A gloved hand is seen flipping the breaker for the lights and the whole house goes dark. A window blows open scaring Mrs. White. Yvette is then seen sneaking down the stairs alone. Soon after, an unseen assailant murders her with the rope. It is evident Yvette was in cahoots with the assailant. It is also revealed she isn't even French.
The officer is seen on the phone with the receiver up to his ear as the door opens behind him. He states that he has a feeling he is in danger. Before he can finish talking to the person on the other side of the line you see the pipe rising above his head.
The next scene is the doorbell ringing. It is a young woman dressed in burgundy. "I am your singing telegram.” Is all she can sing before she is shot by another unseen murderer. Her body is left on the stoop. Mrs White starts screaming because something scared her and then Wadsworth flips the breaker back on relighting the house. Exhausted everyone meets again in the entry hall. They all discover Yvette dead in the billiard room, the cop in the library, and the telegram girl on the stoop.
Wadsworth tells everyone he knows who did it and he says he will tell them all how it was all done. He explains everything, taking the remaining guest through it step by step with demonstrations. Several secrets you did not know through the movie are revealed as Wadsworth runs around. The cook and Yvette were Mr. Bodys' accomplices;so was the telegram girl and the motorist. Yvette was also connected to Scarlet and Colonel Mustard, and had an affair with Mrs White's husband. Also someone switched the keys in Wadworths jacket. Every person who died had vital information and everyone including the motorist and the telegram girl were invited. Mustard was a war profiteer. The cop was being bribed by Scarlet, The telegram girl was the girl Plum lost his license over. The doorbell rings while the explanation is going on and a Jehovah's Witness type is turned away but not without foreshadowing. It is revealed Yvette killed Mr. Body and the cook. Ms Scarlet killed Yvette who was her employer and she recognized the singing telegram girl from her picture and murdered her. The gun in her purse was the evidence that damned her. She wanted to keep her real business a secret which was her motive. The biggest reveal happens when the doorbell rings for the last time. Wadsworth was working with the Fed's and the Jehovah's Witness was one of the FBI.
There are two alternate endings. One: It was the butler, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Plum, Colonel Mustard, Mrs White, and Ms. Scarlet. Wadsworth gets shot and he is Mr. Body all along. Greene is the FBI agent and he isn't gay. Two: It was Mrs. Peacock and Wadsworth was working with the FBI. M rs. Peacock is arrested by the “Jehova's Witness.”
Best part of story, including ending:
I really like the story because it is a very good execution of a favorite old board game of the same name. The story stays true to the fun, challenge of the game.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Wadsworth is literally running back and forth through the mansion explaining how everything was done step by step with demonstrations. He starts from the beginning to end with the dramatic reveals.
Opinion about the main character:
I like Wadsworth because he is quirky and hilarious. His personality is perfect for every ending the movie has.