- The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
name = The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
caption = 1970 movie poster by
writer = I.A.L. Diamond
using characters created by
Arthur Conan Doyle
Robert Stephens Genevieve Page Colin Blakely Christopher Lee
released = flagicon|USA
October 29, 1970
December 3, 1970
runtime = 125 Min
country = UK
language = English
budget = $10,000,000 (est.)
amg_id = 1:39314
imdb_id = 0066249
"The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" is a
1970 filmdirected and produced by Billy Wilder; he also shared writing credit with his longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond. It starred Robert Stephensas Sherlock Holmesand Colin Blakelyas Dr Watson. The film offers an affectionate, slightly parodic look at the man behind the public facade, and draws a distinction between the "real" Holmes and the character portrayed by Watson in his stories for "The Strand" magazine.
The film was originally intended as a
roadshowattraction, touring major cities only on its initial run. However, it was heavily edited on its original release, and significant sections of the film are now missing.
The film is divided into two separate, unequal stories. In the shorter of the two, Holmes is approached by a famous Russian ballerina (
Tamara Toumanova), who proposes that they conceive a child together, one who will hopefully inherit her physique and his intellect. Holmes manages to extricate himself by claiming that Watson is his homosexuallover.
In the main plot, Belgian Gabrielle Valadon (
Genevieve Page) is fished out of the River Thamesand brought to Baker Street. She begs Holmes to find her missing engineer husband. The resulting investigation leads to a castle in Scotland. Along the way, they encounter a group of monks and some midgets, and Watson apparently sights the Loch Ness monster.
It turns out that Sherlock's brother Mycroft (
Christopher Lee) is involved in building a pre- World War Isubmarine for the British Navy, with the assistance of Mr Valadon. When taken out for testing, it was disguised as a sea monster. The midgets were recruited as crewmen because they took up less space and needed less air. When they meet, Mycroft informs Sherlock that his client is actually a top German spy, Ilse von Hoffmanstal, sent to steal the submersible. The "monks" are German sailors.
Queen Victoria (
Mollie Maureen) arrives for an inspection of the new weapon, but is "not amused" by its unsportsmanlike nature. She orders the exasperated Mycroft to destroy it, so he conveniently leaves it unguarded for the monks to take (rigging it to sink when it is submerged). Frau von Hoffmanstal is arrested, to be exchanged for her British counterpart.
In the final scene some months later, Sherlock receives a message from his brother, telling him that von Hoffmanstal had been arrested as a spy in Japan and shot. Saddened, the detective retreats to his room to seek solace from drugs and his violin.
The film originally contained another two separate stories, and a further flashback sequence showing Holmes in his university days. These were all filmed, but later cut from the final release print. One sequence, in which Holmes investigates the seemingly impossible case of a corpse found in an upside down room, has been recovered and restored to the film's
laser discrelease. The Region 1 DVD release restored portions of these segments and several others. They are made up of soundtrack and a series of stills. Another scene features Colin Blakelyas a descendant of Watson receiving the tin dispatch box from solicitors.
Robert Stephensas Sherlock Holmes
Colin Blakelyas Dr John H Watson
Genevieve Pageas Gabrielle Valladon
Christopher Leeas Mycroft Holmes
Irene Handlas Mrs Hudson
Clive Revillas Rogozhin
Tamara Toumanovaas Petrova
Stanley Hollowayas 1st Gravedigger
Mollie Maureenas Queen Victoria
Catherine Laceyas Old Woman
While not a major box office success, the film was well-received by most critics. It has a rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. [ [http://uk.rottentomatoes.com/m/private_life_of_sherlock_holmes/ The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes ] ] . A review in
Empire Magazinedescribed it as the "best Sherlock Holmes movie ever made" and said it was "sorely underrated in the Wilder canon". [ [http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/ReviewComplete.asp?FID=8596 Empire Reviews Central - Review of The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes ] ]
Cultural references and inaccuracies
Stanley Hollowayappears in a cameo as a gravedigger, in a reference to his role in Laurence Olivier's 1948 version of " Hamlet".
*Wiggins, the messenger at
the Diogenes Clubto whom Mycroft gives instructions regarding various items, shares the name of the leader of the Baker Street Irregularswho often assist Sherlock in his investigations.
*The British secret service are seen abandoning the new submarine because of an order from
Queen Victoria. In fact she was a constitutional monarchwho had no real power over such matters. The decision would have, in real life, been taken by the Prime Minister.
*After they disembark from the train at
Inverness railway station, it is seen heading on down the line. In fact Inverness was the terminus of the railway when the film was set.
Mycroft Holmesinforms the Queen that her grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, is developing a Zeppelinwhich will enable the Germans to bomb London. He did not become Kaiser until 1888, and Germany did not start producing Zeppelins until nearly a decade after the film is set.
List of films recut by studio
*imdb title |id=66249|title=The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
*tcmdb title|id=87212|title=The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
*amg title | id=1:39314 | title=The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
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