Thursday, December 30, 2010

Step Away From The Candlestick, Lady

As is the way of Christmas holidays, aside from the obligatory overeating and trying to remember former schoolmates' names when you bump into them in the pub, I've been racking up movie viewings like no man's business. One of which was Clue from 1985. I've wanted to see it for a while now, as I just love the idea of a film based on Cluedo. Then again, I think I love the idea of Cluedo and the characters within it, more than actually playing the game itself. My favourite character was always the mysterious hottie Miss Scarlet. In the game she always rolls first. In the film, she's a delightfully snarky brothel madam in a disappointingly green dress, as I would have imagined it was the perfect opportunity to rock up to the mansion decked out like a murder mystery Jessica Rabbit. Nevertheless, the movie is actually great fun.

Leslie Ann Warren with the revolver in the hall. Eh? See what I did there?

The original Miss Scarlet suspect card is the one I automatically associate with her, as it was the one from my cousin's Cluedo game when we were kids, and I assume it's the one everybody knows best. I am of course referring to the pretty blonde disembodied head perched on the corresponding playing piece version.

After a bit of digging around on the Interwebs, it transpired that Miss Scarlet has had quite a few makeovers in her time. In 1972 her card featured a photo of an Asian lady in a black silk dress with a cigarette holder (who happens to be the wife of beardy interviewer James Lipton of Inside The Actor's Studio fame) which seems to have led to several Asian incarnations of the character, with her appearance varying from sexy ninja girl to what looks like a middle aged restaurant owner, and even a change of name thrown into the mix, as she was rechristened Fraulein Ming in the German edition of the game.

The Asian Miss Scarlet era seemed to last through the seventies and eighties, with a sudden reversal back to Caucasian femme fatale in the nineties.

In 2008, an updated version of Cluedo was released, where the previously enigmatic Miss Scarlet was watered down to a tabloid tart actress called Kasandra Scarlet. Eugh. That's her card in the above picture on the bottom right. (The incredibly boring one.) The unimaginative re-release of the game no longer featured the study, library, ballroom or conservatory, having been supplanted by a tacky patio, guest house and spa. Colonel Mustard became Jack Mustard, a former football player and Reverend Green was turned into some Godawful PR mogul, turning the game into a horrendous, shiny, Heat magazine version of itself. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of this development.

ANYWAY. There were a few cartoon editions of the game too, which are fine by me (compared to the aforementioned footballers-and-Wags tackfest) where Minnie Mouse, Lisa Simpson, Daisy Duck and foxy Daphne from Scooby Doo all took up the mantle of Miss Scarlet in one way or another.

However, I had to save my favourite Miss Scarlets till last. The lady that rolls first has had quite the range of looks over the years and I just love the following ones, each for very different reasons.

There's Dynasty Miss Scarlet, top left, with her auburn bouffant of curls and earrings that Sue Ellen Ewing would be proud of from a 50th Anniversary edition in 1995. Beside her, there's a 1996 collector's edition where the suspect cards featured specially commissioned Victorian style illustrations. Evelyne Rose was the Swiss Miss Scarlet in the seventies, looking every inch the Alpine porn star, and last but not least, Fraulein Gloria. The 1993 German jailbait Miss Scarlet. Statutory.


  1. Miss Scarlet is the one of only reasons I will play cluedo. I always revert to my childlike habits and half shout "bags being ms scarlet!!!!"

  2. Oh, see the first one on the right! That was mine! We had the American version, called Clue, and the board was wonderful - the floors were parquet, each room fabulously differently decorated in the appropriate wallpaper, or whatever. It was so decadent, the ugly blank Irish version never did it for me.

    All the characters were dressed up. Everything was lovely. I've looked for it on Ebay, but the postage was always fifty quid or soem other tragic, prohibitive amount :(

  3. maybe someday I can be Miss Scarlet x

  4. @ Shmoking - I hear that!

    @ Jo - That sounds lovely! Even as a kid I always though the plain yellow board seemed like such a missed opportunity. The Victorian style Franklin Mint one is obscenely gorgeous.

    @ Blau - Indeed, she's something to aspire to alright. I'm already planning a Miss Scarlet costume for whenever my next fancy dress opportunity arises.


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