While the recently departed Stephen Sondheim is being justly remembered for his extraordinary music and lyrics for musicals, let’s not forget that he wrote some other things as well.
Like the wonderful whodunit The Last of Sheila, which has recently been released on Blu-ray (it’s been on DVD for years).
It’s well known that Sondheim was a devotee of games and puzzles, and so it’s no surprise that the plot of The Last of Sheila, which he co-wrote with Anthony Perkins, is filled with devilishly clever games and puzzles.
The movie begins with Sheila running out of her husband’s party and promptly getting herself run over and killed by a hit and run driver. One year later her husband invites the same six guests who were at that party to a week’s cruise on his yacht, where he enjoins them to play a nightly game. No surprise that the games quickly become deadly.
The movie is chock full of clues for those who love to solve whodunits, even the title is a clue of sorts, but you can also just relax and enjoy the fun.
Because fun it is when you have an assortment of actors like Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, James Mason, Raquel Welch, and even a very young Ian McShane (for those who only know him from his recent work).
I remember seeing the movie in 1973 when it was released, as that was also the year that I finally became a Sondheim fan after listening to the Original Cast recording of A Little Night Music. I’ve watched the movie several more times over the years, and even though I know whodunit, I still enjoy it on each viewing.
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