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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Robert Stephens , Irene Handl , Billy Wilder  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)

Price: $27.49 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Stephens, Irene Handl, Stanley Holloway, Christopher Lee, Geneviève Page
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 15, 2003
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKHF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,573 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Christopher Lee: Mr. Holmes, Mr. Wilder"
  • Interview with the editor
  • Deleted sequences
  • Photo gallery

Editorial Reviews

The acting, photography and score are tops (Leonard Maltin) in this lively satirical homage from seven-time Academy AwardÂ(r) winner* Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) and his long-time writing partner I.A.L. Diamond (The Apartment). When a beautiful woman claims that her dear husband has disappeared, the investigation takes Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) and Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely) to Scotland, whereto their surprisethey uncover a plot involving clandestine society, Her Majesty's Secret Service and the Loch Ness Monster! But before he can deduce matters to the elementary, Holmes makes an error that may jeopardize the national safety of Britain and ruin his reputation! *1960: The Apartment (Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay (with I.A.L.Diamond)); 1950: Sunset Boulevard (Original Screenplay (with Charles Brackett and D.M. Marshman, Jr.)); 1945: The Lost Weekend (Director, Adapted Screenplay (with Charles Brackett)); 1987: Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 70's Masterpiece finally available on DVD September 20, 2003
It's a sad commentary on the films featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, that two of my favorites have nothing to do with Doyle at all. The first is They Might Be Giants (with Joanne Woodard a woman named Watson and George C. Scott as a man who believes he is Sherlock Holmes) and Billy Wilder's late period masterpiece. Stuffed with Wilder's characteristic cynical wit, sophisticated dialog and outstanding performances The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes has been out of circulation for too long.
MGM's terrific reissue features a number of extras that make this edition worth waiting for. While it doesn't have the cut scenes reintegrated into the film, it does feature a deleted scenes gallery that suggests how the film might have been had it not been butchered prior to general release. Sadly, there's much missing from this "lost" footage and, as a result, we don't get a restoration as much as a "recreation" with bits and pieces and script segments.
While this isn't the best transfer I've seen, the overall look is still pretty good. Yes, the look of the film is a bit washed out (not sure if that's due to the transfer or film stock but, knowing about the instability of film stock and less than pristine storage conditions many of these films were kept in, I'd vote for negative deterioation)but it is presented in its original aspect ratio. The overall presentation is quite good considering what MGM had to work with and, barring a restoration by someone like Robert Harris, this is probably the best version we'll ever see.
Christopher Lee shines during his brief screen time as Holmes brother. Lee did eventually get to play Holmes as well so it's rather funny to see him playing Holmes brother (after also playing Baskerville in Terry Fisher's Hound of the Baskervilles).
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Why a mess like IRMA LA DOUCE makes a profit and a lovely film like this sinks without a trace is a mystery bigger than anything on display in this "lost" case of Sherlock Holmes, which involves the Truth About The Loch Ness Monster, some very sinister monks, and a lovely woman (Genvieve Page) who drags Holmes into the middle of it all (Well, she does show up on his doorstep stark naked in the middle of night. What's a gentleman, even one who's a bit of a misogynist, supposed to do?). Robert Stephens brings wit, melancholy, and anger to the role, keeping all of these elements of Holmes' personality at play simultaneously, and he is matched splendidly by Colin Blakely's Dr. Watson, who's smarter than Nigel Bruce's Watson and more fun than Conan Doyle's. Page is poised, charming, and ambiguous as the heroine, just the sort of girl to hold Holme's interest. There's also a wonderful supporting performance by Christopher Lee as Holmes' brother Mycroft, a sputtering mixture of affection and aggravation for his impetuous younger brother. And all of this is played against the backround of a splendid score by Miklos Rosza, adapted from his Second Violin Concerto (even if you don't like the movie, try and get a recording of the music). Just when movies like KISS ME, STUPID and THE FORTUNE COOKIE make you wonder if Wilder ever knew what he was doing, along comes a film like this, which reminds you that yes, he knew EXACTLY what he was doing--some of the time, at any rate . . .
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much was LOST! December 21, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film is a cult classic and well deserving of that status. It's one of my favourite films and for YEARS we were promised the excised footage would be replaced and we could finally see this marvellous film in the form Billy Wilder meant it to be. Well, I am sure like all fans of the film, we waited with hope that NOW they would include all these scenes. And while the film transfer is great and I was sad to see there is NO footage to speak of to be added. There are snippets of film of other adventures, stills flashed over a poor soundtrack, but according to MGM there is no extra scenes, they have been lost.
The film is still a must for Billy Wilder, Robert Stephens, Chris Lee or Sherlock Holmes Fans. But just do not expect all the lost footage to be restored.
It is a very very funny look at Holmes, a more human look perhaps. This is a mirthful look at the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, lovingly portrayed with a twinkle in his eye by the late great Sir Robert Stephens. The adventures are fun (the ones we see) but mainly centre around a woman's missing husband. Toss in several hundred canaries, the Loch Ness Monster, missing midgets - the Tumbling Pickaloes to be precise - the mysterious red runner, Queen Victoria, some Trappist monks, an ageing ballerina that does not 'look 39' - that is because she is 49!! -who wants Holmes to father her child and an amnesiac damsel in distress that temps Holmes, all done with the best British wit and droll sense of humour...and you have a mix that cannot miss.
Incisive writing and direction, this fill pay homage to Holmes and Watson, with tongue firmly planted in cheek...
Even so, the currently version is a true gem, and so overlooked,
all we have left of Billy Wilder genius vision.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Wilder's Almost Masterpiece July 9, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
From the maker of The Apartment and Some Like It Hot, a film about Sherlock Holmes might seem a strange project. But Billy Wilder not only gave us the best of the post-Basil Rathbone movies about the Baker Street sleuth, he came close to making his best film ever. He might have succeeded but for the old story of studio interference. By all accounts, the film was originally intended to consist of four interwoven stories. But fears about excessive running time reduced that to two with one of them being more a diversion than a subplot. Even so, what remains is a thoroughly enjoyable experience filled with memorable performances, droll dialogue, atmospheric visuals and a brilliantly evocative musical score.
Miklos Rozsa's music is an integral part of the film. Primarily a reworking of the composer's Violin Concerto, Wilder reportedly loved the music so much that he constructed entire sequences to fit the music, rather than the other way around. And what music it is. The melody for solo violin taken from the concerto's second movement - which might, in another film, be called the "love theme" - is among the best and most beautiful music Rozsa ever wrote and adds immeasurably to the film's style and feel.
Even more important, of course, are the performances by Wilder's carefully assembled cast. As Sherlock Holmes, Robert Stephens is deliciously camp - even his makeup is more theatrical than cinematic. At first, he seems to be overdoing it, but it soon becomes apparent just how perfectly his performance suits - and dictates - the mood of the piece. Hardly a star name - Stephens was primarily a stage actor - it was probably a risk to cast him, but a risk that paid off with fantastic results. You will not forget Robert Stephen's Sherlock Holmes in a hurry.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very Good!
Published 22 hours ago by Carol Citarella
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow and a bit strange
Slow and a bit strange
Published 2 days ago by David E. Bockstahler
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good enough that we watched it twice. Good plot, but the acting was hammy.
Published 3 days ago by Dave Newman
1.0 out of 5 stars Worst Blu-Ray Transfer Ever!
Love this movie! Had the VHS, LaserDisk, DVD and finally bought the Kino Lorber Blu-Ray. The KL Blu-Ray has the WORST quality I have ever seen on any Blu-Ray, which has already... Read more
Published 3 days ago by NiceFriendly
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice stroll down Baker Street
A nice stroll down Baker Street, the acting was a little over the top, and the plot was well represented. A great way to pass some time while waiting for your next flight.
Published 4 days ago by paul buckman
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasnt as good as some other Sherlock Holmes series or movies Ive ...
Wasnt as good as some other Sherlock Holmes series or movies Ive seen, The main character was a bit annoying in
my opinion and the story line was a bit lame.
Published 5 days ago by Thomas Marsh
3.0 out of 5 stars Jose' can you see?
Foggy ole London town. Foggy ole 221B Baker street. Foggy headed cinematographer who can degrade a hundred thousand dollars worth of camera and lens equipment with fog filters to... Read more
Published 6 days ago by killer b
2.0 out of 5 stars Fun movie, NOT BLU RAY QUALITY
This is a fun movie all ages can enjoy. However the picture quality is absolutely awful. Grainy, pixalated....NOT BLU RAY quality. Read more
Published 6 days ago by BP Mills
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Addition to Holmes Series of Movies & Stories
For Sherlock Holmes buffs who don't limit their perception of the character to the actors who played him, this is a great addition to the movies and stories. Read more
Published 7 days ago by A. D. Leak
5.0 out of 5 stars "That's not even a pound [sterling] a midget!"
It *is* the " Sherlock Holmes movie ever made" (K. Newman); IMHO, too. As you already may have heard, they don't make them like this any more, in every sense of the... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Doctor John
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