Delightfully entertaining this. As Cas says, you can easily see where Gatiss and company got their inspiration for the recent BBC Sherlock - its all here, fully formed, with even Robert Stephens sleuth looking uncannily like Mr Cumberbatch. Its got that witty, freewheeling tone, yet with a dark undercurrent not so slyly hinted at, that just makes this a hugely likeable romp that doesn't feel lightweight or flippant.
The main mystery - featuring acrobatic midgets, the Loch Ness monster, sinister monks and a whole lot more - is only part of the story. The first 30 mins are nothing more than character introductions, with a cheeky diversion to the Russian ballet - Holmes is laid bare as a bored, petulant genius, while Blakely's Watson is a more avuncular, energetic take on the character than the bumbling buffoon we'd been used to. Once the game is afoot, we even get a delicious Christopher Lee as Mycroft, sparking brilliantly with Stephens as they cant help but one up each other. Each character is delightfully crafted, interacting with the plot perfectly, never letting it get away from them, no matter how random and out there it gets. The fact that the plot does work is also testament to how fully this version of Holmes and the world he lived in was created - its witty, wry, spiky and all round quite brilliant,
The only potential issue I have is that the final emotional payoff at the mystery's conclusion doesn't feel earned - possibly due to the hatchet job done on the film prior to its release, with nearly another hour ripped out of it without Wilder's approval. The relationship between Holmes and our mystery lady simply doesn't seemed to have earned its conclusion, which is a real shame as with it, the film would have been nigh on perfect. Instead, its a delightfully witty romp, filled with sparky banter and wry humour, that is just a whisper away from greatness.
The transfer is not one of Eureka's best - its quite soft, with not huge amounts of fine detail on show, but its the low level print damage that peppers the image from start to finish that is a shame. Constant white speckles cover the frame, which while never too annoying, are omnipresent. The lossless mono track is cleaner and does a good job of present Rosza's lovely score nicely. The extras are interesting - the 20 min chat with an academic is full of nice tidbits, and the 15 min interview with Lee shows how much if a Holmes officianado he was. The 50 mins of additional scenes are nothing really of the sort - script pages and still images reveal the additional scenes, rather than being fully filmed and presented. A few other odds and sods are included, which round out a decent package.
Summary - full credit to Wilder and IAL Diamond for envisioning this very different (at the time) take on Holmes. Humerous without being a comedy, sly and spiky without being a parody, you can see why audiences at the time were baffled by it. But for fans of the BBC version, this is like its grandpa. A lovely romp, a gnats chuff away from greatness. Massively recommended even with the slight issues on the disc.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes User Review
A 'Wilder' Holmes, as delightfully spiky as he is wonderful, a hugely entertaining take on the the super sleuthReview of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray by Coz22998, Feb 25, 2018.This item was purchased for £14.99 from HMV in 2018. The reviewer still owns this product.