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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Anything But Elementary.
Filmmaker(s): Billy Wilder

Holmes and Dr. Watson take on the case of a beautiful woman whose husband has vanished. The investigation proves strange indeed, involving six missing midgets, villainous monks, a Scottish castle, the Loch Ness monster, and covert naval experiments.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Tamer Wilder

I like the fantasy of a superartist, someone who knows what they are doing, someone who knows where the levers to my soul are.

But I know that’s extremely rare, that most art that I see as art is the result of someone just following their own urges, intuitive or accidental. Its okay, I’ll take my nourishment where I can get it, but I won’t be surprised if the same person that served me emotional redemption then serves me useless trash.

Wilder knows how to make movies. He knows, I think, how to take something in his mind and put it on screen more or less intact.

The problem is that he is a pretty stupid man, and what happens to appear in his mind usually isn’t all that interesting. “Sunset Blvd.” is on my list of the most important films in existence. Sherlock Holmes, the phenomenon and his impact on the structure of narrative is one of my dearest insights.

Put the two together and you get something worth watching, no?

No. And it isn’t because the picture was butchered by the studio. Its dreadful all the way from beginning to end in every dimension expect each shot is so perfectly framed you know a master is home, partly.

Its a difficult thing to begin with humour and try to weave something interesting around it. Much easier the other way. Its simply a matter of architecture: you need something substantial at the root. Its clear what the problem is here, that the man simply wanted to amuse. So we have a building balanced on top of meringue.

Sexual intrigue, a redhead, drugs, a new dreadful weapon of war, a secret society, serious sibling rivalry, homophobia, and all that before you get to what makes Holmes interesting, the manner of narrative.

Pass on this. Wilder was confused.

Posted in 2007

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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