In the 1970s, four films attempted to reinvent Sherlock Holmes in ways that reflected the times around them.
Me think Sherlock Holmes so endlessly adaptable because, while Doyle's actual stories range from fine to great, *idea* of Sherlock Holmes is all-timer. Which is why various adaptations can take things barely mentioned in books — Moriarty, Mycroft, Irene Adler, cocaine use (which medical doctor Arthur Conan Doyle seem to have confused with opiate, because in stories it put Holmes into stupor) — and flesh them out remarkably well. Not to mention plugging Holmes into Victorian London full of other romanticized figures (Jack the Ripper and Freud among them).
And Holmes formula — of impossible mystery solved by impossibly clever bloke — sturdy enough that your various Laws & Order and CSIs not can ever exhaust it. It like cookie dough — you can add chocolate chips, raisins walnuts, frosting, ice cream, whatever delicious chemical sludge they put in Oreos — it always going to be good because underlying idea just incredibly appealing.
If “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” can be considered a cult film, then I’d say I’m part of the cult. I’m not even a Sherlock Holmes fan, but that particular film is a personal favorite of mine, and I think it showed that Billy Wilder still had that magic so late in his career. I was initially disappointed that there were two cases dropped from the final edit, but the film as it is is so perfect (IMHO) that I’m fine with what we ended up with.
surprised you left out They Might Be Giants!
I love the beginning of Private Life but found the rest uneven and weirdly paced...very frustrated that this might be because of the more complete version we'll never get to see, especially as a bigger hit just then might have changed the trajectory of Wilder's career. Belongs on a list somewhere with Magnificent Ambersons.
Murder By Decree definitely needed a lighter touch than Bob Clark could provide, but Plummer’s performance, an unbearable sadness enveloping him as he realizes where the case will lead him, is one of the best of his career. And this right after Starcrash!
This one may fall out of your purview since it’s an hour-long television film -- and it’s about Sherlock Holmes’s grandson, who’s also named Sherlock Holmes -- but 1977’s The Strange Case of the End of Civilization As We Know It lives up to its name. It stars and was co-written by John Cleese while he was between series of Fawlty Towers and is as much about taking the piss out of ’70s detective shows as it was playing around with Holmesiana. (For example, instead of cocaine, Cleese’s Holmes smoke marijuana.) Also, Dr. Watson’s grandson, who’s played by Arthur Lowe, has “bionic bits” for some reason that is never really clear.
The small scene in Murder By Decree where Holmes attempts to help Watson with an errant pea is a favourite of mine.
I just wanted to say another hearty thank you to The Reveal for recommending movies I never would've seen otherwise. We absolutely loved The Seven-Percent Solution!! If you'd told me Robert Duvall once had a role where he spoke like the British Royals, I never would've believed you. The movie was so charming -- Alan Arkin with hair! (I assume it was a wig, but who knows.) Freud almost as accomplished as Sherlock himself. And as a tennis fan, I can't tell you how riveted I was, watching the court tennis (aka real tennis) scene between the Baron and Freud. Apparently it was filmed at Queen's Club, which is still a tournament (a warm-up to Wimbledon).