The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
April 18, 2016 6:34 PM - Subscribe

When a bored Holmes eagerly takes the case of Gabrielle Valladon after an attempt on her life, the search for her missing husband leads to Loch Ness and the legendary monster.

NYTimes: The real subject of the film, however, is one much closer to Mr. Wilder's other movie fantasies ("Some Like It Hot," "Kiss Me Stupid"). That is, sex. To put it bluntly, and profanely, were Holmes and Dr. Watson--Holmes's biographer, his most earnest admirer and the sharer of his secrets and of his flat--lovers?

The Guardian: It's a fantastically melancholy film. The relationship between Sherlock and Watson is treated beautifully; Sherlock effectively falls in love with him in the film, but it's so desperately unspoken. There's an amazing scene where, to get out of a situation where a Russian ballerina wants Sherlock to father her child, he claims Watson and he are gay. Watson is outraged and, when he calms down, speaks of the women all over the world who could attest to his sexuality. He says to Sherlock, "You do too, don't you?" Holmes is silent, and Watson says, "Am I being presumptuous? There have been women, haven't there?" Holmes says, "The answer is yes – you are being presumptuous." Sensational.

The Dissolve: The plotting in The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes is weak, and ill-served by the movie’s generally lackadaisical approach; but the dialogue is witty, and Wilder and Diamond get a lot of mileage out of the idea that Sherlock Holmes is as fragile as he is brilliant. Private Life touches on the hero’s drug addiction, his vanity, and how he makes life difficult for those closest to him, often for no good reason. And the film openly inquires as to what Holmes was into, sexually. Early in Private Life, Holmes complains to Watson that the latter’s stories have made him into something he’s not. But while Holmes wearily insists that, “There are no great crimes any more, Watson,” Wilder and Diamond know that a lack of a crime doesn’t mean there are no mysteries to be solved. For Wilder, the question of what motivates people is one he never stopped trying to answer.

Roger Ebert: The Holmes character, creeping around with his magnifying glass and (Watson tells us at the film's beginning) identifying a murderer by measuring the extent to which the parsley had sunk into the butter on a warm summer day, is a promising subject for the kind of satirical examination we expect from Wilder and his frequent co-author, I. A. L. Diamond. But they pass up the chance and bore us while Holmes laboriously unravels a case involving the midget acrobats, a missing husband, Trappist monks, the Loch Ness monster, dead canaries and a copper ring that has turned green. It takes Holmes about half an hour longer to solve the case than it takes us, and poor Watson never catches on.

Roger Ebert's Worst Reviews: I have to admit that when I first watched this movie I was like Watson, I really had no idea what was going on. I thought the movie worked as a mystery, a comedy, an adventure and as a Sherlock Holmes movie. On IMDB it has a 7.3 rating and on Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% rating. Only one critic out of 21 gave it a negative review-Roger.

Film's lost Nessie monster prop found in Loch Ness

posted by MoonOrb (2 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Man, I was absolutely flabbergasted at how much Gatiss and Moffat's Sherlock feels like The Private Life. I mean, after watching the film, I was pretty sure that at some points, Cumberbatch doesn't play Sherlock, he plays Stephens. Or is it just me?
posted by sapagan at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2016

Oh, now I see that it's Mark Gatiss who speaks in the Guardian piece. That explains a lot.
posted by sapagan at 4:22 PM on April 20, 2016

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