After drinking and partying all night, journalist Sheila Green (Yvonne Romain), the wife of a successful Hollywood producer named Clinton (James Coburn), is killed in a car accident in the crime thriller The Last Of Sheila. The woman dies instantly and the driver runs away without being recognized. Bereft and devastated, Clinton cannot move on with his life and seeks revenge. A year after his tragic loss, the husband decides to go on an all-inclusive, luxurious cruise on the French Riviera with his lavish yacht, named after his late wife. On this jaunt he also invites six of his acquaintances – screenwriter Tom Parkman (Richard Benjamin), his wife Lee (Joan Hackett), a scout agent named Christine (Dyan Cannon), movie director Philip Dexter (James Mason), the gifted actress Alice (Raquel Welch) and her husband and talent-manager, Anthony (Ian McShane).
Clinton is a dedicated play enthusiast and informs the six passengers that the cruise will become a platform for the weekly entertaining game named “The Sheila Green Memorial Gossip Game”. It soon becomes apparent that the sea trip is in fact a reunion of everyone present – as each of the six individuals were in Clinton’s home a year prior on the night that his wife was murdered. Every guest is assigned an index card which contains a secret that must not be revealed (for instance, one of them is gay). The winner of the game is the first to uncover everyone else’s secret without exposing their own. Each day the yacht also docks on a port, where the participants are given a clue. The seemingly innocent game gets out of hand when an actual crime is committed during the cruise.
“An old-fashioned murder mystery that has been dressed up fit to kill and set aboard a fine, white-hulled, teak-decked Mediterranean yacht of the sort that souls have been sold to obtain.”
— The New York Times
“The actor Anthony Perkins and lyricist Stephen Sondheim loved murder mysteries, bitchy showbiz/high society gossip and elaborate party games –so they concocted this ingeniously-intricate murder mystery set on a millionaire’s yacht, with an array of amusingly nasty suspects squirming during a complicated guessing game that gets sidetracked by the host’s murder.”
“A devilishly complicated thriller of superior class.”
— Roger Ebert
Did You Know?
The Last Of Sheila’s foundation came about after the director Herbert Ross visited Anthony Perkins’ modern parlor game. The actor/writer was hosting a murder mystery party and was convinced by Ross to create a script based on the event. The original screenplay by Stephen Sondheim and Perkins was also novelized by Alexander Edwards upon its release in 1973. Review our Gay Themed Films Here