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>
Around this time, there were also plans to film the Leslie Bricusse musical "Baker Street" which debuted on Broadway in 1965. Fritz Weaver had played Holmes on stage, and Peter Sallis was his Watson. Christopher Walken had played one of the villains. Due to its poor performance on Broadway (it played over 300 shows but had been hugely expensive to mount ) and the worry that it would cover much of the same ground as the Billy Wilder project, it never materialised. See more »
There are references to HMS Jonah undergoing sea trials in the Moray Firth from her base in Loch Ness. The only link between Loch Ness and the sea is the River Ness which is broad and shallow and would not allow the passage of a submarine. See more »
Madame must not be too hasty. She must remember that I am an Englishman.
You know what they say about us: if there's one thing more deplorable than our cooking, it's our lovemaking. We are not the most romantic of people.
Perfect! We don't want sentimental idiots, falling in love, committing suicide. One week in Venice with Madame, she goes back to St. Petersburg with baby, you go back to London with fiddle.
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A surprisingly melancholy celebration of Conan Doyle's most famous creation
Billy Wilder's excellent 1970 film handles the whole subject of Sherlock Holmes from a refreshingly different angle. As the title suggests, the film is rather more concerned with characterisation than plot, which although entertaining and original, is hardly an adequate stage to show off Holmes' exceptional talents.
Instead, Wilder and Diamond start with the premise that "Watson's" stories for Strand Magazine were a little more lurid than the "reality" and use it to develop a more subtle characterisation than the "thinking machine" of the literary Holmes. Admittedly, the film probably concentrates on Holmes' celebrated cocaine habit more than it should, but all references are lifted straight from the book and in any case, Stephens does not dwell on it.
Stephens himself is quite simply excellent, giving Holmes' a depth of character not seen again until Jeremy Brett on the small screen. Stephens' performance leaves us with a slightly melancholy Holmes', a man who perhaps regrets that, unlike Watson, he has dedicated his life to pure reason and while the screenplay hints at Holmes' sexuality, Stephens deflects it masterfully, remaining ambivalent and gentile where a less accomplished actor would have been simply camp, and so uses the suggestion to wrap another layer of ambiguity about the character.
All in all, Wilder and Stephens combine to make a refreshingly accessible Holmes and the entertainment comes from the interplay of characters rather than pace of plot.
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