Monday 25 November 2013

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes [1970]

Arthur Conan Doyle had mentioned in the short story A Scandal in Bohemia that Irene Adler, who Holmes couldn’t fully master, always remained as “the woman” to the legendary sleuth, but Billy Wilder would like to have us believe otherwise. In The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Wilder provided a satirical look into what the film’s title made it clear – the 221B Baker Street resident’s idiosynracies, his habit for snorting coke, his seeming lack of emotions towards women, popular perceptions about his orientation, his actual physical stature, and so forth – as opposed to his romanticized image as per the words of his trusted aide Dr. Watson. Divided into two unequal halves, the first half showed renowned Russian ballerina Madame Petrova’s attempts to lure Holmes (Robert Stephens) into marriage and his rather undignified means of getting out of the proposition that leaves Watson (Colin Blakely) fuming, while in the second he gets embroiled into a matter of national security. It antagonizes his elder brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee), and more importantly he finds himself falling for the beautiful, seductive and mysterious femme fatale Gabrielle (Geneviève Page) possible against the better judgement of his super-rational mind. This late-Wilder was certainly a much lesser effort vis-à-vis his more renowned works; nonetheless, it was a highly enjoyable film filled to brim with cheeky humour and situational comedy. In fact, its gradual transition from bawdy, but intelligent, humour that it began with, to the rather melancholic and quietly touching finale, convinced me that even an average Wilder is better than the best works of many. Both Stephens and Blakely did well, while the score was good too.

p.s. Watched this as part of 2013 Kolkata International Film Festival (KFF)

Director: Billy Wilder
Genre: Comedy/Mystery/Romance/Buddy Film/Detective Film
Language: English
Country: UK

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