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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Robert Stephens , Irene Handl , Billy Wilder  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)

Price: $25.80 & 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: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKHF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,944 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
83 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Sherlock Holmes adaptions have had a hit or miss quality for the longest time. Even going back to the Rathbone films (which wasn't the earliest incarnation of the fictional great detective in film) we had a clunker for every great one produced. its interesting to watch original films about Holmes as they do investigate elements in the characters that often have been ignored in those that are considered canon. Billy Wilder's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" belongs in that category. although its not a great Wilder film, it features Wilder's characteristic cynical wit and some nice performances. It's been out of circulation for too long.

Wilder's Holmes is precursor to Nicolas Meyer's as presented in Herbert Ross' film "The Seven Percent Solution". I don't want to reveal the plot here because it would spoil it for fans except to say this highlights one of Holmes' few failures which makes it all the more interesting to me.

Kino Blu-Ray: The recent (8/14) Kino BD looks marginally better in terms of detail but the transfer features a different and inferior source that is poorly cleaned up with dirt, debris and white speckles that mar the transfer. Although a bit darker than the DVD (which improves the film in the day for night sequences). Colors are inconsistent--badly faded one moment and then bold the next (towards the end). While the soft look of the film is often intentional , using this source the presentation looks even worse hurting the look of the film.

The best that can be said for the audio is that is relatively clear but it has no depth whatsoever here.

The special features have largely been ported over from the superior DVD edition.
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70 of 81 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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41 of 47 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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17 of 19 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 For Sherlock Holmes fans
A different Sherlock Holmes movie but great to watch.
Published 9 days ago by W. J. Ferguson
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay
very difficult to stay interested in the plot and the characters.
Published 10 days ago by James F. Carpenter Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Most enjoyable and entertaining.
Published 11 days ago by Lana M. B. Reed
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't like it
Not very funny and an OK interpretation of Sherlock. There are much better videos to watch.
Published 11 days ago by R. Jeffrey Macdonald
3.0 out of 5 stars I expected a better story from Billy Wilder
I expected a better story from Billy Wilder. I love Sherlock Holmes movies. How the actors portrayed their parts was not how the characters read in the written stories. This Dr. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Susan S.
5.0 out of 5 stars We enjoyed this very much...
I enjoyed it very much. One of the better Sherlock Holmes movies out there..
Published 17 days ago by Maryline Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great stuff!!
Published 17 days ago by Catherine I Bancroft
5.0 out of 5 stars Good movie, we enjoyed it quite a bit
Good movie, we enjoyed it quite a bit. There's intellect, mystery, interesting characters, humor, nice settings, and more. I would watch it again. Thanks!
Published 18 days ago by M. Santos
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Sherlock Holmes movie
Good movie.
Published 19 days ago by DJ
Billy Wilder's film has had a checkered history and unfortunately we will never be able to see it in its entirety and be able to judge what the director's intended vision of his... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Anthony McGill
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