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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
(2018 Release)


Starring: Robert Stephens, Geneviève Page, Colin Blakely and Christopher Lee
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £15.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 22 January 2018

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) and Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely), are tasked with locating the missing husband of a mysterious woman fished out of the River Thames. The course of their investigation leads them to Scotland and encounters with a group of monks, some dwarfs and even the Loch Ness Monster. Can Holmes and Watson crack the case...?

Billy Wilder’s criminally underrated adventure-comedy, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) is released on Blu-ray as part of Eureka Entertainment's The Masters of Cinemas Series.

Considered by many Holmesians to be the best Sherlock Holmes movie ever made, Billy Wilder’s take on the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creation comes at the genre from a new angle. The movie opens with the arrival at Scotland Yard of a case containing Dr Watson's notes and aretefacts on some previously unrecorded Holmes adventures. Locked away, until now, the contents of the case reveal another side to Holmes, a side the public have never seen. As the move progresses we bear witness to cases that don't shine the best light on the world's most famous Victorian detective.

If you haven't seen this film, then you really should take this opportunity to acquaint yourself with it. Wilder's depiction of the characters is a lot more fun than audiences had previously witnessed - not to mention a little more realistic. Holmes's cocaine habit is tackled, and Wilder has a little tongue in cheek fun with the oft trotted out homoerotic nature of Holmes and Watson's relationship.

The film originally had four cases. All were filmed, but two were cut at the demand of the studio who thought the movie overly long. It's a shame that very little remains of the footage, as it would have be interesting to have viewed Wilder's original movie as he'd envisaged it.

Christopher Lee turns in an almost unrecognisable appearance as Holmes's brother Mycroft and Frank Thornton, who would go on to play Captain Peacock in the British '70s sitcom Are You Being Served? and as Truly in Last of the Summer Wine makes a brief appearance as the one-armed doorman at the Diogenes Club.

Extras include an interesting 52 page booklet; Interview with Neil Sinyard (20 min, 45 sec in which the film scholar talks about various aspects of the movie's production); The Missing Cases (Deleted Scenes) (50 min, 03 sec presentation of the film's 'Original Prologue'; 'The Curious Case of the Upside Down Room'; 'The Adventure of the Dumbfounded Detective'; and 'The Dreadful Business of the Naked Honeymooners'); Deleted Epilogue (Audio Only) (6 min, 20 sec audio which for the most part is the same as the film version. The only real difference is Inspector Lestrade's appearance asking for help solving the Jack the Ripper case); Christopher Lee interview: Mr Holmes, Mr Wilder (15 min, 17 sec talk with Lee, who discusses his love of working with Wilder and his role as Mycroft); Interview with Editor Ernest Walter (28 min, 40 sec technically pretty poor video, it looks like an old home video recording, but it contains some interesting information); and Original Theatrical Trailer (3 min).

It's an incredibly impressive movie. It's a shame that it never received the critical acclaim it so rightly deserved on it's original release. Most audiences simply didn't get it; expecting either a straight out comedy take on the characters, or a more traditional retelling of the stories.


Darren Rea

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