Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - P

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Movie Review

wilder sellers billy peter

Peter O'Toole and Peter Sellers as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson? It sounded great to director Billy Wilder in the early ‘60s, too. Unfortunately, the working relationship between the three never made it to the starting gate. Wilder apparently felt that O'Toole's demands were in the prima donna league and he made the mistake of calling Sellers an “unprofessional rat fink.” Harsh words for a man who'd already had one heart attack during a Wilder movie. (Sellers was replaced by Ray Walston on 1964's Kiss Me Stupid.) So The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was released in 1970 starring stage actors Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely in the leads (who come very close to playing Holmes and Watson as a well-adjusted gay couple, especially Holmes, who looks like he's wearing mascara, rouge, and lipstick). Although both were extremely good actors, the resulting film was still far from the masterpiece Wilder hoped it would become. The main problem, according to Wilder, is that United Artists insisted that nearly an hour be trimmed from its three-hour running time. Edited to 125 minutes, all the flashbacks to Holmes’ earlier life (actually Wilder's own past) are eliminated, including crucial sequences that contain Wilder's main reasons for making the picture. Even though we learn more about Wilder's sexual humor than we do about the great detective, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is a lavish contribution to the canon with an intriguing script and genuine affection for the late Victorian era (circa 1887).

1970 (PG-13) 125m/C GB Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Page, Irene Handl, Stanley Holloway, Christopher Lee, Clive Revill, Catherine Lacey, Tamara Toumanova, Mollie Maureen, Michael Balfour; D: Billy Wilder; W: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond; C: Christopher Challis; M: Miklos Rozsa. VHS, LV

Professor Mamlock Movie Review [next] [back] The Private Life of Henry VIII Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or