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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
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Index 85 reviews in total 

9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Sherlock Holmes the Man Vs Sherlock Holmes the Legend.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
9 February 2011

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is directed by Billy Wilder who co-writes the screenplay and story with I. A. L. Diamond. Based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, it stars Robert Stephens, Geneviève Page, Colin Blakely, Christopher Lee & Irene Handl. Miklós Rózsa scores the music and cinematography is by Christopher Challis.

There were cases that Sherlock Holmes worked on that were deemed of a "scandalous nature" and not for public knowledge. But Dr. Watson made journals, and as Watson's private deposit box is opened some 50 years later, one such journal now sheds light on one particular tricky case, and one that also delved deep into the private life of the greatest of sleuths.

Billy Wilder film's rarely need an introduction, with a CV that contains Stalag 17, The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, his output, it's safe to say, is mostly remembered and quite rightly is often praised. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is not forgotten by Wilder fans, but it most certainly is his most underrated. Originally made as a three hour movie, the film was taken from Wilder and snipped to a two hour picture. So where once there was a four story narrative, weaved together as an episodic humanisation of the "consultant detective", now sits a two story movie. That's it's still a fabulous movie is a towering credit to Wilder and his long time associate, I. A. L. Diamond. With Wilder declaring his displeasure at the final cut of the film, it promptly bombed at the box office. Further lending weight to its reputation as something of a stinker. But time has been kind to it, where the advent of various home format releases and internet discussion forums has seen its stock rise considerably. And rightly so.

Wilder deals an irreverent take on Sherlock Holmes, but one that is not disrespectful to the world created by Arthur Conan Doyle. It's a loving recreation that simply portrays the man as a flawed, yet still genius like, human being: one with his own hang ups and insecurities. Once this has been established in the first third of the movie, and hopefully accepted by the audience, Wilder and co then take us into familiar "case to be solved" territory. Once a bedraggled Geneviève Page turns up at 221B, suffering from amnesia and clearly in need of help, we are whisked along with our intrepid duo on a journey involving canaries, midgets, Trappist monks, Queen Victoria and the Loch Ness Monster. With Sherlock's mysterious brother, Mycroft (Lee), front, centre and very involved too. It may not be a mystery to appease purists of the Holmes literature, but it's real good fun and contains one or two twists and revelations along the way.

Robert Stephens plays Holmes as fey yet articulate, intelligent yet complex, but always with a nod and a wink that surely pleased his knowing director. Colin Blakely is pure effervescence as Watson, excitable and exuberant and perfect comic foil for his more mannered partner. Lee is utterly splendid as the straight laced Mycroft, Page adds a simmering sexuality to the proceedings and Handl is joyously sarcastic as Housekeeper Mrs.. Hudson. Look out, too, for celebrated stage and screen actor Stanley Holloway as a gravedigger. Rózsa's score is very upbeat, even for the more reflective moments, further evidence of Wilder having tongue nicely nestled in cheek, and the score sits snugly with Challis' pleasing photography around the Scottish Highlands. Major bonus here is the marvellous sets by Alexandre Trauner, particularly the recreation of Baker Street, for here be a sometimes forgotten cinema art at its grandest.

A crisp script is crisply executed by all involved, this film deserves the credit that is now finally coming its way. 8.5/10

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

a must see for everyone interested in true cinema

Author: grumpy-3 from london
4 December 2000

This was Wilder's last great work, his tribute and homage to Ernst Lubitch his mentor. A film of rare majestic, beauty and though not obvious,true romance. Definitely the best Holmes film ever. From the sparkling and witty script to the faultless performances from all concerned, the great scope photography, and Miklos Rozsa elegant score, the film is the culmination of one of cinema's great masters. As usual the critics and public did not take to it at it's time of release and UA cut a whole section from it, but yet again time has made people wonder what this film is.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Particular adaptation based on the classic characters about famed sleuth and his helper

Author: ma-cortes
12 June 2012

When a bored Holmes (Robert Stephens who also played Holmes on the stage and in TV series 'The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes') eagerly takes the case of Gabrielle Valladon (Genevieve Page) after an attempt on her life , the search for her missing husband leads to Sherlock and Watson (Colin Blakely) towards Loch Ness and the legendary monster. This affectionate story reveals the secret allegedly hidden by Holmes and Watson .

Atypical Holmes movie , resulting to be a extremely personal pastiche of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories and takes a melancholic point of sight at famous eye private . It is packed with intrigue , thrills , emotion , taste , wit , and of course ,intrigue . In the flick appears the usual of the Arthur Conan Doyle's novels : Mycroft (Sherlock's brother , well played by Christopher Lee) , Mistress Hudson (Irene Handl) , and as always Doctor Watson (Colin Blakely). Furthermore , a notorious secondary cast as Clive Revill , Stanley Holloway as an undertaker , Catherine Lacey in her last cinema film and the classic dancer Tamara Toumanova . The film has an enjoyable atmosphere , it's in wonderful color that originates a glamorous setting created by the magnificent cameraman Chistopher Challis , and filmed at Pinewood Studios , Buckinghamshire, and Inverness , Highland , Scotland . Production design by the expert Alexandre Trauner is of first rate , the movie is very atmospheric , 221 Baker Street home , the streets of London , castles are very well designed .

Robert Stephens's interpretation is magnificent, he's one of the best Sherlock Holmes in the cinema , likeness to Peter Cushing and Jeremy Brett in television. Robert Stephens as Holmes plays in a clever , broody and impetuous manner . Colin Blakely plays as Watson with humor, goofy and joy , he's the perfect counterpoint to Holmes . However , initially Peter O'Toole was going to play Sherlock Holmes with Peter Sellers playing Dr. Watson, but Billy Wilder decided to go with lesser known stars instead . Originally, the scenes featuring the Loch Ness Monster were intended to be filmed in the actual Loch , a life-size prop was built which had several Nessie-like humps used to disguise flotation devices , the humps were removed, however, at Billy Wilder's request. Unfortunately, during a test run in Loch Ness, the Monster-prop sank and was never recovered ; a second prop was built, but was only filmed inside a studio tank . At the request of director Billy Wilder, composer Miklós Rózsa adapted music from his own Violin Concerto , opus 24 , as the basis for the film score, supplementing this with further original music.

This special Billy Wilder movie takes melancholy look at Holmes . Apparently, he had been a fan of Sherlock Holmes for many years prior to making this picture. Wilder said of this flick in the book 'Conversations with Wilder' by 'Cameron Crowe' : " when I came back from Paris, it was an absolute disaster, the way it was cut. The whole prologue was cut, a half-sequence was cut , in fact it was intended as a 3 and half hour film . I had tears in my eyes as I looked at the thing. It was the most elegant picture I've ever shot ¨ . The motion picture was panned by the critics whose reputation should soar in future years , being recently a 12 minutes restored . Rating : Better than average , 7/10 . Well worth watching .

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

the mystery of the missing film

Author: 1sadbastard from United Kingdom
16 September 2003

I only found out recently that the film was heavily cut. Two whole missing sections - The Curious Case of the Upside Down Room and The Case of The Naked Honeymooners never made it to the theatrical release, as well as a couple of other small sections. Where the hell are they? In these days of extended editions, DVD extras, etc, this would be a perfect chance to show Billy's film as he had intended. Touch of Evil was re-cut to Welles original specification recently, so it is possible - providing you still have access to the material. Even if it is too long - a reported 3 hours and twenty minutes - I'd like the chance to make my own mind up.

The film itself is still of interest. Performances are good, it is atmospheric, both visually and musically and the humour not too out of place. The homosexual/misogyny angle is of particular interest and one of the main reasons why Billy set out to try and make a Sherlock Holmes picture in the first place. Many of Billy's films carry these themes, of course, but Holmes mysterious quality leant itself to this interpretation. And so what? He may be in the closet, but he still falls for Gabrielle Valadon. And the end...very touching, beautifully handled.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

The Private Life of the Only Fictional Character Ever Given Honorary "Reality"

Author: theowinthrop from United States
16 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The wonderful thing about Sherlock Holmes is that Arthur Conan Doyle's abilities gave us so much information (and lack of information) about him that we can invent details all the time. For example, in 1886 Doyle wrote a manuscript which became A STUDY IN SCARLET, and initially was entitled "A TANGLED SKEIN". He named Watson, his narrator, Orrin Sacker, and named Holmes "Sherrinford". He thought better of both (fortunately). However, in the 1970s Gene Wilder made the movie SHERLOCK HOLMES'S SMARTER BROTHER, and in it he made the younger brother (third after the "Canonical" Mycroft and Sherlock) Sherrinford, and he is assisted by a Scotland Yard Sergeant named Orrin Sacker!

Holmes is the only character in modern (post 1700) fiction that generated so much interest as to make a cottage industry of books, magazines, clubs, and continuations on his (and Watson's, and Moriarty's, and Irene Adler's, and Lestrade's) adventures. Nicholas Meyer did two fictional continuations, one (THE SEVEN-PERCENT SOLUTION) being turned into another successful film with Nicol Williamson, Robert Duval, Alan Arkin - as Sigmund Freud, and Vanessa Redgrave. He is also the only fictional character that many people insist was real - not simply based on Doyle's teacher Dr. Joseph Bell (the subject of a series of "Bell - Doyle" television adventures with Ian Richardson as Bell), but a real "Sherlock Holmes". That is real immortality folks. When was the last time someone suggested there was a real Prince of Denmark named Hamlet?

This Billy Wilder film was unfortunately re-cut for economic reasons that Wilder could not control, but enough remains to enjoy it. Although Robert Stephen and Colin Blakeney are not as powerful box office draws as Peter O'Toole and Peter Sellers would have been, both were highly respectable performers. Stephen played the art teacher lover of Maggie Smith in THE PRIDE OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, and Blakeney was the treacherous servant of Sir Thomas More in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (and later one of the train traveling suspects in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS). They are convincing in their parts here.

Wilder's story is about a woman (Geraldine Page) who is fished from the Thames with Holmes' address on her person. She is trying to find her husband, and Holmes agrees to help. The plot, involving the Loch Ness Monster and national security problems (enter Holmes' brother Mycroft - Christopher Lee in a rare comic performance) is suitably complex, and leads to Holmes stumbling a bit as he falls for the woman in the case. The conclusion is sweet in it's way, but melancholy too.

Wilder being Wilder he could not fail to bring in a sharp joke or two at the expense of his central figures. The Holmes - Watson friendship has been the subject of some speculation over the years: just how close was the friendship? In the scene with the Russian ballet and their impresario (Clive Revill) we see Wilder making a thrust at this particular rumor. Also, unfortunately in a cut scene, Lestrade comes to a preoccupied Holmes with the news of another of those unsolved Ripper murders - they need him on the case. Holmes says he is too busy and can't get involved. Now we know why Jack got away with it!

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A great mix of mystery and comedy!

Author: vertigofan-3 ( from Sintra, Portugal
24 November 2002


Seen this other day! What an homage to Sherlock Holmes! It's a must to any fan of the books dying to see a faithful and 100% victorian version. It features Colin Stephens as the famous detective, in a acccurate, mysoginist personification and Colin Blakely as an amusing Watson. The cast also has Christopher Lee (one of my fave actors) as the snob Mycroft Holmes and Stanley Holloway in a small part. There's a french actress that is the Holmes only passion in life and she actually has a naked little scene! I guess the 70's permitted that-- Anyway, Billy Wilder couldn't resist putting his comic flair here, and it works surprisingly well, each scene with Stephens and Blakely is delicious. This don't get the 9 rating cause of my preference of Poirot adaptations. Yet to all Holmes fans- RENT IT NOW!

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"I don't dislike women, I merely distrust them. The twinkle in the eye and the arsenic in the soup..."

Author: ackstasis from Australia
28 December 2007

Sherlock Holmes is certainly one of literature's all-time most famous characters, the subject of countless novels and short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle between 1887 and 1927. Since then, he has become possibly the most portrayed movie character in cinema history {according to the Guinness Book of Records, over 70 actors have played the coveted part in more than 200 films}. So rich was Conan Doyle's description of Holmes that many readers have come to think of him as a historical figure, and derive enjoyment from speculating on the finer detail's of the private detective's life. Likewise, many authors and filmmakers have decided to expand on the stories of Sherlock Holmes, creating new mysteries that perhaps Dr. John Watson forgot to publish. 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)' is such a tale, directed by master filmmaker Billy Wilder, who also produced and co-wrote {with long-time collaborator I.A.L. Diamond} the film.

'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' was originally written and filmed as a three-hour roadshow picture, an episodic compilation of Sherlock Holmes' most difficult mysteries. Unfortunately, the studio's unwillingness to take a risk with such a format meant that entire sequences, including a prologue with Watson's grandson in London, and a flashback to Holmes' university years, were inharmoniously cut from the film. Though I was initially unaware of this studio intervention, I met these findings with anger and frustration; while the surviving picture is merely a good film, Billy Wilder's original vision would certainly have been something special. I hear that at least one episode has been restored into later DVD editions of the film, but most of the missing footage remains, devastatingly, permanently absent. The story, as we now find it, is comprised of two unequal portions: the first concerns Holmes' interactions with a glamorous ballet dancer (Tamara Toumanova), casting doubt on the famous detective's sexuality, while the second mystery demonstrates the efforts of Holmes and Watson to locate the husband of an beautiful woman (Geneviève Page) suffering from amnesia.

When little-known British actor Robert Stephens first appeared on screen as Det. Sherlock Holmes, I wasn't certain that he was the suitable man for the job {Wilder had initially considered Peter O'Toole as Holmes, and Peter Sellers as Watson, before deciding to cast unknowns}. However, despite initially appearing too flamboyant to play Conan Doyle's brilliant investigator, I'm happy to say that, by the end of the film, he had well-and-truly grown on me. While Stephens didn't quite match the stories' depiction of Holmes, this is only because Dr. Watson's dramatisations often tend to embellish the truth and misrepresent facts about the detective's personality and demeanour – a point that is alluded to early in the film itself. Colin Blakely, though given very little to do, is a lot of fun as Holmes' companion and biographer, playing the role a lot less serious than I've seen it done in the past. Christopher Lee also appears as Holmes' intellectually-equal brother Mycroft, whose associations with the British government may prove crucial to the case being investigated.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

a complete and a brilliant film

Author: powell2317 from United Kingdom
26 December 2005

This film is my all time favourite and always will be. The first time i watched it I knew from it's wonderful opening credits that i was going to love it. It's never even mattered to me that the movie takes liberties with the basics of the Holmes stories, depicting Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes as rivals. For me the film's perfection lies in the brilliance of all it's elements - i.e. script, cast, score. Robert Stephens is a superb Holmes, melancholy, witty, dry & delightful. Editing of the film prior to its original release & the subsequence loss of the edited footage (to a certain degree, since some survives and can be found on the US DVD release) is frequently used by fans to criticise the film as it stands, however without the lost footage the film stands as a complete and a brilliant film.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

tribute and satire on Holmes, wry and clever, with some real intrigue too

Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
29 January 2010

Billy Wilder wasn't interested in making any old Sherlock Holmes movie, and this film, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, reflect that if only in the sum of the parts that were finally kept in. He meant it to be a "personal" story on Holmes, or rather chronicling the stories from Holmes that weren't included as 'official' stories in the Baker Street files by Dr. Watson. At the same time it was also fashioned as an epic, three-hour "road-show" presentation, but sadly as the 1970's dawned (and crap like Hello Dolly tanked) the road-show slinked away from existence, as did Wilder's preferred cut. And yet, for the concessions Wilder had to make- he intended it as a 'four-part suite' with a prologue and two segments not kept in the film (one or two of these is mostly complete on the deleted segments section of the DVD)- what remains, like Welles with The Magnificent Ambersons, shows more than enough artistic merit and invention of film-making and entertainment to suffice.

In what remains of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes are two stories, pretty much complimentary to one another and almost making Holmes into a 'Pulp Fiction' kind of story arc. At first it looks to be about a mysterious invitation that Holmes and Watson (the former bored out of his gourd without a good case) to the ballet, and there Holmes discovers that he's really been tapped to knock up a primadonna ballerina, to which one of the funniest homosexual jokes unfolds. Then, as Watson questions in the narration about what has really been Holmes' love life, we see the story of a woman from Brussels who has come upon Baker street without any memory of how she got there, though the clues eventually lead Holmes and Watson and the woman to Loch Ness, and a mystery surrounding her husband's death... and, hey, is that really Nessie in there?

While one wonders how the entire epic would have fit together and made the most out of Holmes' 'private' files, one of the joys of the work presented here is how much Wilder is faithful to Doyle without missing out on his voice. This is a rather cynical and sardonic film, and the laughs are the kind, much like in other Wilder films, that sneak up on you five seconds after the line or quip has been laid. It has that intelligence to really work as good dialog, but also allow the actors- underrated Robert Stevens as Holmes and Colin Blakely as Watson, a really fantastic 'buddy' pairing of personality and wit- room to work their stuff. Wilder also has the good mind to cast supporting players well, such as a near unrecognizable Christopher Lee (unlike his Hammer film "Big Dog" of the Baskervilles) as Mycroft, and Genevieve Page as the confused and sad and mysterious woman that leads Holmes and Watson on their story.

If there are any bones to pick they're minor: the look of the picture has a kind of odd fog or shade to it, as if the director of photography was coming up with a technique that would suit Zigmond on McCabe & Mrs. Miller much better (either that or my DVD had a bad print). It's not a terrible choice, but in some scenes it just seemed ancillary to the story being told- only in those foggy scenes on the water of Loch Ness are they effective. But in general this is a handsomely made, self-reflexive film, knowing of what Doyle's world is so meaningful but also questioning what makes its characters tick. It works for both Wilder fans and Holmes aficionados. Whether or not Stevens is the 'best' Holmes I still can't say (some put Rathbone at the top, while I can't wait to see more of Robert Downey Jr), but he does lead a film that is well-paced, comic-tragic in equally satisfying measure, and a few real honest-to-goodness plot twists!

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Ballerinas ,Victoria,and the Loch Ness monster.

Author: dbdumonteil
8 July 2001

They are all here in Wilder's most underrated movie.On the site,people complain about the editing,but you cannot put the blame on the director:his three-hour work was boiled down to a two-hour digest.What remains is splendid indeed:magnificence of the film sets -Trauner's work,he who elaborated those of Carné's "les enfants du paradis "(children of paradise)-,intelligence of the screenplay (not adapted from Conan Doyle,achieving the feat of paying a tribute to the great writer while kindly laughing at his hero:Sherlock is manipulated,cheated,sometimes it seems that he's no more in control of what's happening .His deductions are elephantine:at the opera,they use paper swans ,therefore (sic) the lake monster is a fake.It could be a fake lake too,mind you.Genevieve Page provides the love interest and her sunshade is a good stroke of inspiration.Sherlock certainly did love her,because ,when he reads about her tragic demise,he solaces himself with music and fairly disreputable methods.Let's hope ,that some day,we will be allowed to see the whole movie as Wilder had originally conceived it:a great director like him more than deserves it!

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