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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good solution for a entertaining night
I had received this obscure film over Christmas but had not watched it until recently when I brought it over to watch with my friend who frankly is a Holmes Buff and introduced me to the vast array of Conan Doyle stories and the exquisite Jeremy Brett television series. Until then I had only watched the Hammer's film with Peter Cushing which I still enjoy watching...
Published on 23 Jan. 2012 by Lottie

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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'This is a true story. Only the facts have been made up.'
Sometimes a great idea, a good script and an interesting cast can still end up resulting in a slightly disappointing film. Case in point The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. The 70s was the last decade to regularly produce big-screen outings for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, and having exhausted Conan Doyle's stories there was a tendency to put a modern spin on them to make them...
Published on 11 Nov. 2009 by Trevor Willsmer


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'This is a true story. Only the facts have been made up.', 11 Nov. 2009
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
Sometimes a great idea, a good script and an interesting cast can still end up resulting in a slightly disappointing film. Case in point The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. The 70s was the last decade to regularly produce big-screen outings for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, and having exhausted Conan Doyle's stories there was a tendency to put a modern spin on them to make them stand out from the crowd. Thus Billy Wilder delved into the consulting detective's private life, Gene Wilder discovered another smarter Holmes brother and Christopher Plummer and James Mason set off on the heels of Jack the Ripper, but for sheer ingenuity writer Nicholas Meyer had them beat: his ingenious and loving pastiche had Holmes lured to Vienna in the hope that Sigmund Freud could cure him of his addiction to a seven-per-cent solution of cocaine only for the two greatest detectives of the 19th century to find themselves caught up in another drug-wreathed mystery.

The film certainly attracted a lot of money and talent, but the money isn't always noticeably spent and some of the talent isn't right for this story. Herbert Ross' direction feels uncertain of whether he's making a drama, a comedy or a light thriller and takes too long to find an acceptable balance and a consistent tone (though John Addison's fine score works overtime to tie all the elements together to paper over the cracks). This certainly seems to communicate to the impressive cast as well, with the feeling that some of them are in a completely different picture to others. At times it feels like it's been cast more by the players' reputation than their suitability. Alan Arkin is rather perfect as Freud but Nicol Williamson, with his machine-gun diction sounding like a demented Dalek whenever in the throes of his craving, makes choices that are often more interesting than successful as Holmes. Yet his staccato vocal contortions are as nothing compared to Robert Duvall's stunningly awful "Engolissshh" accent that detracts from what would otherwise be a good performance. It really is a disaster on an epic scale that has to be heard to be disbelieved, overemphasising syllables until sentences and even individual words either lose their meaning or become laughable exercises in translation: "Bahr twot doo yew meeyan, Hoems?" "Ay mussed bussell," or "Morrie Ahhttyy?" Just when you think you've mentally blocked it out of your head, he'll throw in another clanger like "Weir go-ng two Lun-dun!" to drag you out of the story. Lord help us, he makes Dick Van Dyke sound like a genuine Englishman by comparison.

The casting is more effective in the smaller roles - Charles Gray's Mycroft Holmes, Jeremy Kemp essaying yet another of his arrogant German aristos, Laurence Olivier's timid and persecuted mathematics teacher Moriarty (though the part might have been funnier with someone like Arnold Ridley in the role). Even Vanessa Redgrave, so often so mechanically artificial onscreen, is fine in her fairly small but pivotal role even if she can't resist affectedly mispronouncing her last line. Joel Grey and Samantha Eggar have little to do, but at least do it well.

It doesn't help that it's a distinctly schizophrenic film, the first half a rather theatrical and often awkward psychological drama buried under far too much narration in that strange language Duvall seems to be creating word by word before it develops into a ripping yarn with killer Lipizaner Stallions, a Turkish sultan with a thing for redheads and a swordfight on the top of a speeding train. It may take a bit of willpower to stick with it, but once it reaches Austria and a wired Holmes pulls off a brilliant display of elementary deductive reasoning in Freud's office it goes from a film where little works to one where everything starts to click. More importantly, it starts to be enough fun to make you forgive its many shortcomings.

The letterboxed UK DVD is the uncut version including Stephen Sondheim's `Madame's Song' that's often cut from TV prints, though someone really should tell whoever designed the sleeve that not only is there no stills gallery on the disc but that Christopher Plummer does not play Holmes in the film.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good solution for a entertaining night, 23 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
I had received this obscure film over Christmas but had not watched it until recently when I brought it over to watch with my friend who frankly is a Holmes Buff and introduced me to the vast array of Conan Doyle stories and the exquisite Jeremy Brett television series. Until then I had only watched the Hammer's film with Peter Cushing which I still enjoy watching.

The film's title and plot originates from the book of the same name written by Nicholas Meyer and the plot includes the spiraling addiction of Holmes cocaine use and the inspired addition of Sigmund Freud to the detective team. Therefore you cannot watch this and expect a typical Holmes story. If you do, you will probably end up bemused by it all. However it is a story that shows the writers affection of the original ACD canon and of Freud. The film is done with a appreciativly tongue-in-cheek attitude.

Williamson is not typical Holmes because of the effect of Holmes' psychological and physicological deteriation from the drug overuse. However as he continues through the case, his passion and enthusiasm returns and excites the audience once more. Holmes relationship with Watson (Robert Duvall)does have it's strains but it is as close, fond and fun as it ever can be and there is some classic moments between the two such as in the bordello. Laurence Olivier uncannily portrays Moriarty excellently. Alan Arkin as Freud is also perfect in his fictional interpretation. Freud rather than competing in intelligence with the duo, all work well together in completing the case.

Overall we really liked it. Even though Robert Duvall's English accent should be shot and buried so nobody has to hear it again...though it was rather entertaining to hear which word was to be vocally violated next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One for Holmes aficionados, 17 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with many of the points in Dunkel's review; this is an okay film, in that it will keep you entertained for the 109min run time, but as a film featuring the world's greatest literary detective, it's a bit of a let down and plot wise, something of a mess.

The criminal case doesn't really get going until over half way through the film and until then we're sent down a rabbit hole into Holmes' subconscious, complete with an interesting spin on his relationship with nemesis, Moriarty. This gave me the impression that the criminal case was tacked on and what the writer / director really wanted to do was psychoanalyse Sherlock Holmes. In the end, even this doesn't really get off the ground, as the adventure takes centre stage.

The concept of discovering what makes Holmes tick is a tantalising one and in some respects, introducing him to Freud makes for fascinating on-screen chemistry, however, this is all but ruined by the presence of Watson. It's not that Watson as a character gets in the way, indeed, he is central to the psychoanalysis of Sherlock Holmes; as Charles Gray's excellent Mycroft points out, Holmes is Watson's alter ego. The problem, as many have commented, is Robert Duvall, specifically, that his attempt at an English accent is incredible (and not in a good way). Think Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula, add Ewan McGregor's Alec Guinness impersonation from Star Wars, sprinkle in that scene from My Fair Lady, where Audrey Hepburn is trying to warp her exagerrated cockney drawl into the Queen's English, and imagine you've dropped some acid; even then, you're only half way to understanding how terrible it truly is. So much so that I had to rewind the opening monologue to understand what he was saying and then I promptly creased up laughing, wondering if the film was a parody.

Not only is Duvall's accent atrocious, but his interpretation of a Victorian English gentleman contorts his whole physical being into something resembling said accent; his abstract interpretation of Watson's limp appears to be the gait of John Wayne, via the Marx Brothers, with Norman Wisdom thrown in for good measure. The whole experience of watching Duvall move and speak lends the entire film a rather surreal edge and tends to detract from everything else going on.

In a way this is a shame, as Williamson gives a good performance as Holmes. It's not on a par with Brett, Stephens or Cumberbatch (three of my favourite takes on the character) as he's too warm a personality and even misses a couple of things that should be obvious to Holmes in his sleep (although that's the fault of the scriptwriter, not Williamson). But his portrayal of a genius brought low by the ravages of drug addiction is absorbing and his frantic deductions, that have him perspiring and leaping about all over the place are true to the source material.

Overall this film would have been much improved by excluding Watson altogether (as Duvall's acting ensures that he and Williamson have absolutely no on-screen chemistry) and focussing instead on the double-act of Holmes and Freud.

This is either a film for those Sherlock Holmes fans who have to devour everything about the character, or those wanting an unintentional comedy on a rainy afternoon. Honestly, Duvall's accent will not disappoint; he's the only person I've ever heard who can put 5 syllables in the word 'Holmes'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classy and elegant entertainment, 27 Jan. 2012
By 
The CinemaScope Cat - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
After indulging in a cocaine binge, Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) is tricked by his loyal friend Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall, whose English accent is inadequate) into a meeting with the renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin) in Vienna in the hopes that Holmes can be cured of his addiction. While undergoing the cure, Holmes becomes involved in the kidnapping case of an actress (a red haired Vanessa Redgrave). This clever conceit of Sherlock Holmes meets Freud is an inspired idea. Herbert Ross directs the film version of Nicholas Meyer's (who also did the screenplay) novel with panache and wit ... just. If one could wish it were just a little bit better, what we have is clever enough, a classy and elegant entertainment. Williamson's Holmes is a bit too hyper. There's not much difference between the cocaine addled Holmes and the cured Holmes. Ken Adam's detailed production design is grand as are Alan Barrett's Oscar nominated costumes. The grating score is by John Addison and Stephen Sondheim wrote an original song for the film, I Never Do Anything Twice (The Madame's Song) performed by Regine. With Samantha Eggar, Joel Grey, Georgia Brown, Jeremy Kemp, Anna Quayle, Charles Gray and as Holmes' nemesis Dr. Moriarty, a delightful cameo by Laurence Olivier.

The Freemantle Media DVD from Great Britain is a handsome anamorphic wide screen (1.85) transfer.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 7% Solution Holmes, 11 Feb. 2009
By 
Dato K. S. Lai "HT Fiend" (Malaysia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
A "must see" for fans of Sherlock Holmes as it gives an insight into his coccane addiction and his cure and treatment by Sigmund Freud . Memorable performances by the principal characters. A good and acceptable DVD transfer. Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A 'Trip' With Sherlock, 4 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
I've just finished watching this and actually said out loud, to the DVD player, 'That was nuts!' I do like a Sherlock Holmes reboot but totally agree with the first reviewer about the inconsistency in tone. In accent terms, Alan Arkin is about the only one who comes out of the regional soup with any dignity - Robert Duvall is playing a version of Watson who learnt English from a remote native tribe, who'd only ever seen it written down. Every time he forces out more than about three words from a mouth apparently full of turnip, he looks unjustifiably self-satisfied as if to say, 'job well done'. I thought Nicol Williamson would be inspired casting but couldn't get past the curious hair and the uncanny resemblance to Richard E. Grant.

Having said that, watching the film is an experience like no other - if you can't afford to get drunk, this has pretty much the same effect, helped partly by Sherlock's 'cold turkey' delusions (where else would you see the Hound of the Baskervilles in a wardrobe?) but also by the 'real' events of the film, duel by tennis, Lipizaner assassins, steam train chase, etc. Nice touch about the similarities between Freud and Holmes, and an incredible cast, but this reviewer is left bemused. In a - kind of - good way...
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Seven Percent Solution., 9 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan as I, this is quite a good one. Nicol Williamson in it as the great detective plays well and thus joined the ranks of many fine actors who have incarnated the role. Holmes fans will like it I believe. Most such films over the years with a few exceptions have met the proper bench mark.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My first time ordering from the UK, 10 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
This was the first time I ordered anything from the UK (via Amazon) and was very pleased. The money conversion was calculated with the order form, the item delivered promptly, and it played on my Sony Multi Region player just fine. Thank you Amazon!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Purists beware!, 13 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
Sherlock Holmes is treated by Sigmund Freud in an entertaining conceit by screen writer Nicholas Meyer who was Oscar nominated for Best Screenplay based on material from another medium (1976).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice one, 17 April 2014
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This review is from: The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a good rendition - well done - I have seen all the various Sherlock Holmes and this could have been expanded upon with the characters - Freud was well played a goo portrayal.
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The Seven Per Cent Solution [1976] [DVD]
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