Director Billy Wilder adds a new and intriguing twist to the personality of intrepid detective Sherlock Holmes. One thing hasn't changed however: Holmes' crime-solving talents. Holmes and Dr. Watson take on the case of a beautiful woman whose husband has vanished. The investigation proves strange indeed, involving six missing midgets, villainous monks, a Scottish castle, the Loch Ness monster, and covert naval experiments. Can the sleuths make sense of all this and solve the mystery? Written by
Joel Preuninger <Jhpreunin@aol.com>
With a 260-page script and a budget of $10 million, this was set to be a 165-minute Road Show picture with an intermission for comfort. It was to be the "Big One" for Billy Wilder. The shooting schedule ran for six months and resulted in a rough-cut that came in at three hours and 20 minutes. The film was originally structured as a series of very specifically structured linked episodes, each with a particular title and theme. The opening sequence was to feature Watson's grandson in London claiming his inherited dispatch box from Cox & Co. and there was also a flashback to Holmes' Oxford days to explain his distrust of women. All were shot, but deleted from the final print. So what happened? Well, it appears that United Artists suffered a number of major film flops in 1969 that pretty much scuppered the road show format for Wilder's massive project. Studio execs ordered the film to be cut to fill a regular theatrical running time, whittling it down to a 125-minute version. The episodic format made the pruning process relatively simple, so cut were the opening sequence, the Oxford flashback and two full episodes entitled "The Dreadful Business of the Naked Honeymooners" at 15 minutes and "The Curious Case of the Upside Down Room" at 30 minutes. We can only hope that the full footage can one day be restored, although a full print is not currently thought to exist. See more »
Towards the end, when the submarine sinks we see a bible and a bottle of champagne float to the surface - alas the bottle of champagne would not float. See more »
Criminals are as unpredictable as head colds. You never know when you're going to catch one.
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Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) and Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely) get involved in a very weird case involving a mysterious French woman (Geneuieve Page), Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee), midgets, Scotland, the Queen and the Loch Ness Monster! Believe it or not they all come together. I originally saw this on TV back in the late 70s but it was so heavily edited (for instance, the entire first half hour was gone because it dealt with gay characters which was still a taboo on TV back then) that I couldn't follow it and gave up. Now it's back on uncut and I'm glad I'm finally able to see it.
A very strange movie but lots of fun. Some people think this is a spoof. It really isn't but there are some very funny moments--my favorite is at the beginning when Holmes blasts Watson for how he writes about his cases--"Watson, I've never said 'elementary my dear Watson' in my life!""Poetic license Holmes". There's also quite a few funny one liners mostly delivered with great relish by Stephens and it does deal with the sexual relations of Holmes and Watson (it was hinted that they were gay lovers). But it does involve a very serious case and the jokes stop towards the end.
Stephens is actually very good as Holmes--he won't make you forget Basil Rathbone but he's not bad. Colin Blakely isn't as big a buffoon as Nigel Bruce was but he tends to overact a little. Page is just terrible as the mystery woman--but then again, English is her second language. Lee, surprisingly, is kind of stiff as Mycroft. He's a very good actor--I'm surprised to see him so bad.
The movie is very lavish (probably because Billy Wilder was involved)...a lot of money and attention was given to sets and costumes, and they actually went on location to shoot the end in Scotland. The cinematography is just beautiful and the movie was never dull. It doesn't always mix the comedy with the drama successfully but it works more often than it misses. As most people know this was HEAVILY edited before it was released and the uncut version doesn't seem to exist anymore. That's too bad but what remains is not bad. Worth catching...a must see for Holmes fans.
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