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on 19 July 2017
This may be an old film, but well worth a watch. I'd never seen int but Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat bang on about it so much that I had to find out what all the fuss was about and admit it was a hole in my Holmes collection. Thoroughly enjoyed it!
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on 9 September 2017
A very good film in my opinion.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 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 Originally made as a three hour movie, the film was taken from Wilder and snipped to a two hour picture.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 marvelous 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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on 8 June 2009
This has to be one of the best films about Sherlock Holmes ever made,looking at the character from a totally different point of view.You see a depth of character,which gives clues as to why, for example, he never married.The film at times is very satirical, but never tries to make Holmes a comical figure. There are superb performances by Robert Stephens as Holmes and Colin Blakely as Doctor Watson.The supporting cast are equally first rate. You can't go wrong with a film directed by Billy Wilder, with music by Miklos Rosa,who elevates the film at all times, with dramatic, romantic and beautifully written scores.The DVD picture and sound quality is excellent.
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HALL OF FAMEon 29 November 2005
This film is sometimes described as a comedy, and while it has humourous bits (a more sardonic and biting form of humour most of the time), it has never really felt at home being classified as a comedy, in my estimation. I do like the rapid-fire wit that Holmes seems to have here (a bit more in abundance than in the canonical Conan Doyle stories), but the Holmes presented here is a bit more dark and brooding, more akin to the extra-canonical 'Seven Percent Solution' Holmes in many ways.
Wilder was an extraordinary director and genius who sometimes gets carried away with his subject (in this regard, he is sometimes compared with Stanley Kubrick). His films are often of epic-proportions, even though they are not essentially 'epic' subjects. This film is reputed to have been nearly twice as long as the final cut version, but this tale may be apocryphal in that the raw footage every made it to final print and production. The restoration available on this disc is, in fact, rather minimal - a few scenes and a few extras, but not much more than the original release of the film. This is disappointing to many fans, but in fact is more than most of us have had for a long time, as the somewhat choppy film was often mercilessly cut for television broadcast.
Holmes in this case is played by Robert Stephens, an unlikely Holmes in comparison to standards such as Rathbone, Brett, or Gillette, but still an interesting choice - quintessentially British, reserved but daring, brilliant yet flawed and faltering. Colin Blakely presents a stronger Watson than often portrayed before (this film, being made in 1970, presented this as a newer idea for Watson, one that has been picked up by many subsequent productions). Wilder has the actors play at various issues of Victorian sensibility and morality, including the implication (dismissed in the end) that Holmes might have a sexual identity issue. Christopher Lee, who himself plays Holmes in other productions, plays Holmes' smarter brother Mycroft here, to good effect.
The story line does have some inspiration from the canonical stories (the Bruce-Partington Plans, for one), and from Gillette's play (the strange case of Miss Faulkner, introducing an ending that allowed for a love interest for Holmes in the end), but for the most part takes the characters from Conan Doyle and runs far afield. Still, this is must-see film for any fan of Holmes, and any fan of Wilder, who saw this as one of his last great productions.
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on 3 March 2008
A marvellously crafted and witty take on the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes for all fans of his. It is a slanted, almost subversive reading of him, giving us a real man, with real vices and defects, and a real sense of humour, and gives us a far from stodgy Dr. Watson, much more a real friend of his than in other versions. This is all intended to give us something new, something quite tantalising, and something quite rewarding. It utterly succeeds in this, and throws in an adventure dripping in that dark Victorian quality all Holmes adventures have. It is clearly made by a huge fan of his, and Wilder revels at the chance of giving Sherlock's mysterious brother a prominent role. Stephens as Holmes is sensational. The screenplay is sparklingly good, and the story itself is as well detailed and entertaining as any of the Conan Doyle tales. It is a magnificent piece of work that should disappoint no one with the faintest of interests in Sherlock Holmes. The DVD itself is fine, no extras but at this price, who can complain! A great addition to anyone's collection.
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on 4 September 2011
The opening passages with the Russian ballet troupe mystify at first but become clear once the dancing is over, as it were. It becomes significant later. Robert Stephens is superb and suitably superior as Holmes. Colin Blakely is a perfect counterpoint as the vaguely boyish enthusiasm of Watson. For me though, it is the delectable Genevieve Page that captures the scenes (see my review of Belle de Joure). She is the temporary amnesic abductee, dumped into Holmes and Watson's collective lap. Canaries and the Scottish Highland capital, Inverness, come into the picture. A gentlemen's club and imperial espionage are woven into the story (co-written by Billy Wilder, the director and producer), along with the beautifully dictioned Christopher Lee, as Holmes' brother, Mycroft. The Loch Ness monster appears, as does Queen Victoria. Love blossoms. Its demise is greeted with consoling cocaine. Terrific stuff and again, with the sumptuous Ms Page; excellent!

Ian Hunter.
Author of The Early Years e-LOVE E-Dreams [(E-World)] [By (author) Ian Hunter] published on (August, 2011) Three Interludes Love's Anatomy Conversations Pets: An Adults' Tale
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on 7 November 2016
Amusing aside on Sherlock Holmes. Debonair Robert Stevens is very watchable despite his pantomime dame makeup. Humour and mystery abound (from investigating mysteries to Holmes himself) which keeps the viewer entertained. Loved seeing the Russian ballerina (now older) who played a similar role in Hitchcock's Torn Curtain
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on 19 September 2017
I was looking forward to this. Not a bad start, but then it becomes comedy. As a comedy it is at best moderately interesting. The plot is pretty aimless and not even Robert Stephens can raise it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 February 2016
Billy Wilder’s film remains an intriguing curiosity nearly a half a century after it was made. Butchered at the behest of the studio (United Artists) and a commercial flop on its release, the released (and readily available) version comprises two rather incongruous tales – the first, a highly inventive piece of dark comedy (right up Wilder and his regular co-writer I A L Diamond’s street, I would say) in which Holmes’ 'ambiguous sexuality’ is used to deny prospective parentage for the offspring of Tamara Toumanova’s Russian ballet dancer, Madame Petrova, the second, an enjoyable 'boy’s own’ adventure yarn, taking our hero (à la Hitch’s The 39 Steps) to the remote Scottish Highlands, where a case of cunning espionage is revealed (inextricably entwined with the mythology of the Loch Ness monster). It is very easy to get caught up with the narrative twists and turns of our intrepid heroes’ high jinks – the film’s production values guarantee this, with Alexander Trauner’s lush Victorian sets, Christopher Challis’ evocative highland cinematography and Miklós Rózsa’s haunting musical themes – but there are also hints at something much more personal for Holmes (as the film’s title suggests) which Wilder, with his acute sense of pathos, barely scratches the surface of (perhaps a 'full uncut’ version of the film might have gone some way to bringing a more uniform whole to fruition).

That said, there is still much to admire in the released version, not least Stephens’ portrayal as the obsessive criminologist and maverick wit, delivering a series of ironic quips mixed with glimpses of the great man’s darker background (of drugs and sex). One of the film’s greatest points of fascination is the way Wilder distinguishes between the 'real, personal’ Holmes and the 'fictional incarnation’ created by Colin Blakely’s Watson, in the latter’s stories for The Strand Magazine. Elsewhere, Geneviève Page is good as the glamorous 'foreign interloper’, Gabrielle Valladon, who is seeking Holmes and Watson’s assistance in tracking down her missing husband, Christopher Lee delivers a suitably haughty brother Mycroft, with Foreign Office connections, and Stanley Holloway gives a typically reliable cameo as a highland grave-digger. There are many moments of great amusement, none more so than that of the (female then male) ballet dancers’ reactions to Watson’s 'secret’, plus Wilder’s tale makes original use of midgets and Trappist Monks, as well as giving us a contraption straight out of TV’s Stingray as the Brits’ surreptitious 'secret weapon’.

Much entertainment is to be had therefore, with just a hint of regret as to what might have been had Wilder been given full editorial control over the finished product.
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