Yes, has everyone gone mad?

I haven't figured out why people like this movie. It may be because I've never seen any other movies by Wilder and so am mistaking his style for poor filmmaking. But still. The film is awkwardly staged, poorly acted, badly written, and boring.

Oh, yes, in the first half hour we have an implication that Holmes may be gay, and it is highlighted that he shoots cocaine into his veins. At the end of the film, both these themes are revisited, so there must be a sense in which this is what the movie is "really about."

But sandwiched in between these two superficially interesting ideas, is a ho-hum Holmes mystery, (easily guessable by the audience long before Holmes figures it out, by the way,) and a lot of stilted dialogue stiltedly delivered. Once the movie gets started, any deflationary "realistic" redrawing of the Holmes character is forgotten: He's just like in the books. At the end, these humanizing touches are revisited almost as an afterthought.

A charitable watcher will read the humanized subtext into the rest of the movie, but there is nothing about the way the plot plays out that compells this.

Anyway, thrown in there is also a scene in which Queen Victoria is portrayed in this cutesy "aw isn't she a sweet, doddering old lady completely out of touch with reality and capable of destroying the country because of a sentimental whim!" way. It should make you scowl.

A final observation: The whole thing plays out like a bad adaptation from a stage production.

I gave it 3 out of 5 on netflix, with a strong temptation to give it 2.



Well no one can convince you that it is good. But you have to realize that this was a movie not about Holmes but about one of his plunders. Watson made Holmes out to be a sort of Superman to the public but we get to see that he was a normal guy who got dumb cases (the russian dancer) or he made mistakes. This is the private life of Sherlock Holmes and it isn't pretty.

"Many girls want to be carnal with me... because I'm such a premium dancer!"


Thank you for this post because I thought I was going mad by reading so many glowing reviews about this poor movie. Let's be honest this movie is a bit of a mess. It's sad to see the great Billy Wilder wind his talent down into this clumsy caper that makes a mockery out of the Arthur Conan Doyle creation. Ok so it's fun in places and unconventional when you expect the opposite but it goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and if Billy Wilder's name wasn't attached I'm sure half of the reviewers here would condemn it as indulgent nonsense.


Most Sherlock Holmes movies are awful, for some reason he is a difficult character to translate to the screen. Possibly because Sir Arthur jumped around in time and within Holmes character so much. He wrote him to be a real person and Wilder was into characters. I liked the movie, as a bit of fun, it was an interesting foray into a different side of one of my favorite literary characters. However, in its silliness it brought up the subject of Holmes being gay which is ridiculous and was far more titillating than I think most Holmes fans would have cared for it to be.


However, in its silliness it brought up the subject of Holmes being gay which is ridiculous ...

Oh, dear... Why don't people pay attention while watching movies, thus obviating their making such silly and ridiculous observations.

This wasn't done vaguely. It was an important plot point.

The reason for bringing it up was because Holmes had to think up an excuse not to accept the prima ballerina's invitation to his fathering a child with her. He had to implicate having a homosexual orientation, untrue as it was, to avoid so doing.

That's all.


So he's no a buffty then?


Well, I have been a fan of the character Sherlock Holmes from the books as long as I can think (and read). But I always felt a little unhappy with the one-dimensional portraits of 99,9% of the Holmes films. No doubt, there have been some fantastic performances by Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Christopher Lee. But they stuck to that one dimension of the books, and left me wondering if there wasn't more to this man. Did he always win? Was he never feeling anything?This film finally changed it and I love it for the fact that Holmes finally becomes a human being. A human being trying to hide his feelings behind logic and sarcasm. That is meeting the Holmes from the books very good, but finally that dude is getting some depth. He's not only superior intellect anymore, which I truly believe does make people lonely and sad.

It was mentioned in the books that he was taking heroine when he was bored. That woman did tickle his brain, and there are hints it could've been some sort of love. When she was gone, there was no stimulation to his brain anymore.

The PRIVATE life of Sherlock Holmes. Private. The stuff that wasn't in the books because it didn't meet the 100% perfect Holmes from Strand Magazine. If people want a Sherlock Holmes film like every other, there are hundreds. If they expect nothing else they'll be disappointed.

You said yourself you've never watched any other Billy Wilder films? Never Some Like It Hot, Irma La Douce, One-Two-Three, Sabrina, Witness For The Prosecution? Sunset Boulevard? The Seven Year Itch? What you'll always find in Wilder's films are human beings. Humans with feelings, humans that make mistakes in life. Sherlock Holmes is no exception, and that's why I love that film so much. Wilder was a genius, and this film is pure genius to me, too.

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"What you'll always find in Wilder's films are human beings. Humans with feelings, humans that make mistakes in life. Sherlock Holmes is no exception, and that's why I love that film so much. Wilder was a genius, and this film is pure genius to me, too. "

I cannot think of a better way to put it. Wilder and Diamond were the greatest of them all.


Forget Rathbone for a second..............this is THE Holmes movie...period.


as mentioned elsewhere on this site poor billy wilder didn't have final cut perhaps maybe that is why it seems disjointed to some watchers....i think one of the posts above said plunder when they meant blunder...once again , no final cut.. this came out in '70 and i think is a great companion with seven per-cent solution, an often overlooked holmes movie also...perhaps nicholas meyer got some of the ideas for his book from this any rate i'm wathing this film on dvd right now and am looking forward to the extras and deleted scenes...i suppose it's too much to ask that all 50 minutes are ther when it seems alot of the original was thrown out or destroyed


I know this unique film isn't to everyone's taste, but POORLY ACTED? To quote Oscar Wilde, " What a load of BOLLOCKS!"

Robert Stephens should've been nominated for an Oscar for this movie. His brilliant portrayal of Holme's private side is the most moving and affecting depiction of the ace detective EVER. No contest.


I second that.

The acting is top drawer across the board.

It looks beautiful.

There is nothing that couldn't fit into Holmes as Doyle wrote him (if one takes into account Watson's little embelishments).

The only problem I have with this film (slim Mycroft and non Scottish Mrs Hudson aside but once again that may have been artistic license on Watson's part) is the wealth of beautifully written scenes sliced from this movie and it seems lost forever.



I actually think this is one of Wilder's best, certainly his best from his post-"One, Two, Three"/late period.

View my films at:


Oh absolutely, I think Robert Stephens is superb; now that this film is on netflix streaming I've been watching it over and over...


well, i think that there is a lot of politics around sherlock holmes and if this film had changed the name of sherlock holmes to, oh, i don't bloody know, toto, it might have been recognized for what it is; a masterpiece that subtely mixes comedy with complex drama. one probem though; it goes to far around the end.



Haven't seen any Billy Wilder before?

You need to watch a LOT more movies you begin your life as a critic.



This film is drop-dead gorgeous, and those who don't like it wouldn't know a great film if it came up and bit them. It has a wonderful elegiac quality, a delicious savouring of bygone times, and a playful tweaking of the well-worn Holmes legend. The casting is excellent, the cinematography sumptuous, and the Miklos Rozsa score has a lovely lilting quality that carries the audience along in an almost dreamlike state. The sections shot at Loch Ness are a special joy to watch. Btw, the restoration of the missing sections, and the release of the film in Wilder's original full-length version, is at the top of the American Film Institute's "most urgent" list. Those of us who love this film - and we are in the thousands - cannot wait.


I saw: Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Some Like It Hot, The Long Weekend


Excuse me, but where does the film imply that Holmes "must be gay"? In fact, he (Robert Stephens) only said that to provide an excuse so as not to father the child in exchange for the violin. To have done so, no matter how rich the reward, would have been agains his code of ethics. And when he hears of it, the outraged reaction of Watson (Colin Blakely) demonstrates that there was no truth to it.

And please don't come back and say that when Holmes says to Watson, "You're right - it's none of your business," in response to Watson's question about Holmes and women, it also means he's gay. What it actually means is, "It's none of your business"!

Also, I don't see the big deal about Homes and the cocaine. It's part of the Holmes stories, and it goes back to A. Conan Doyle. You seem to want to blame the film and Billy Wilder for it!

Your prejudice against this film is so obvious it's palpable.

Please, when you watch and listen to a film, watch and listen to what it actually says, not to what you THINK it is going to say!


by weichikris (Wed Aug 16 2006 12:00:47)

But sandwiched in between these two superficially interesting ideas, is a ho-hum Holmes mystery, (easily guessable by the audience long before Holmes figures it out, by the way,)
I'd like to say that, while the mystery may have been easily guessable to today's modern audience who grew up with submarines as a fact of life on TV and with the years of movies and newspaper articles about Nessie frequently seen or read, the 19th century Londoner would not have known all this. Holmes, himself, was shown to be quite limited in knowledge about anything that did not pertain to his craft (see Watson's list of Holmes' abilities in A Study in Scarlet). Of course, if the Loch Ness Monster had been implicated in a murder or theft of rubies over the years Holmes would have been well up on Nessie. The announcement of a functioning Submersible at the time period in question would have raised eyebrows among the numerous uneducated of the day as relatively few people would have read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. Given the sad state of education today probably few people have read the book, but they have seen various movies with submersibles.


When Billy Wilder was picking up one of his three Oscar's for 1960's "The Apartment"(Picture, Director, Screenplay), the presenter behind him whispered, "time to quit, Billy."

For "The Apartment" had followed another Wilder classic, "Some Like It Hot," by just a year and those two were like a one-two punch of top filmmaking and box office performance.

And it was 1960...Wilder was really being rewarded for being a great 40's and 50's filmmaker.

Like another director who had a great 1959 and 1960: Alfred Hitchcock. North by Northwest('59) and Psycho('60) in his case. HUGE hits(especially Psycho.) Great movies.

But neither Wilder nor Hitchcock was inclined to "quit while they were ahead." They were "hot." There were well paid. They could get their movies greenlit with ease.

So each man worked on through the sixties and each man watched as "something happened" to their winning streaks. 1964: Marnie for Hitch; Kiss Me Stupid for Wilder. 1966: The Fortune Cookie for Wilder(a Matthau Oscar but a flop), Torn Curtain for Hitchcock(superstars Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in a movie that just didn't work).

Came 1969 and 1970, Hitchcock and Wilder both looked dangerously old hat. And neither one of them could attract stars. Sherlock Holmes was intended for Peter O'Toole(Holmes) and Peter Sellers(Watson). Wilder ended up with Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely. Hitchcock's Topaz was offered to Yves Montand and Sean Connery -- Hitchcock ended with...Frederick Stafford(?)

Throw in Howard Hawks' 1970 Western Rio Lobo(with John Wayne and Hawks finally striking out after Rio Bravo and El Dorado) and you had it: three once-great directors fallen on hard creative times.

I can never really think of Wilder's Sherlock Holmes without thinking of Hitchcock's Topaz and Hawks' Rio Lobo. Just ten years before, these three directors were "hot with hits" : Rio Bravo, NXNW, Some Like It Hot, Psycho, The Apartment. Ten years later....great names no longer so "hot."



Hawks ended his career with Rio Lobo in 1970. But Hitchcock and Wilder kept on going...and only Hitchcock had one more hit.

It was in 1972: the R-rated sexual shocker, Frenzy. As if trying to keep up, Wilder put some nudity(of Jack Lemmon! And Juliet Mills) into Avanti that year, but only Hitchcock had a hit.

After 1972, Hitchcock made only one more film: Family Plot(1976.) Hitch died in 1980.

After 1972, Wilder made three more films, all failures: The Front Page, Fedora, and finally -- in 1981, one year after Hitchcock's death, the terrible "Buddy Buddy." The Front Page and Buddy Buddy were weak Lemmon-Matthau vehicles made out of loyalty to Wilder; Fedora starred Bill Holden(Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Sabrina) -- another Wilder pal.

Sherlock Holmes ends up being well after Billy Wilder peaked, but surprisingly before "the end." He soldiered on as an "old Hollywood name" and kept getting greenlights after failure after failure after failure. Until he didn't.

Sherlock Holmes differs from most of Wilder's fifties/sixties movies. It is in color and wide screen. And it is far more melancholy and sweet than his tougher movies (like Ace in the Hole). In the end, though, it was one of those 1970 movies that signaled not only the end of an era, but the loss of directorial prowess..Sherlock Holmes is big and overblown and slow and dull ...and embarrassing in much of its sexual innuendo(on the gay side.)

I do rather like the beautiful French woman who ends up revealed as a spy...flapping her umbrella in Morse Code to say farewell to Holmes, and thus setting up a beautifully sad ending for the famous detective. That was nice.

I wonder if this would have been much better if the Two Peters HAD done it? (O'Toole and Sellers.)