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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2000
Format: DVD
In my opinion, this is probably the best Sherlock Holmes film ever made, and one of only a couple that ring true as being faithful to the spirit of the original stories. This is no Hollywood butchery pitting Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper or Dracula, but a truly excellent film.
The story centers around a cocaine-addicted Sherlock Holmes beginning to lose touch with reality, and the effort by Watson to save him from this fate by recruiting the aid of none other than Sigmund Freud. The three lead actors are thoroughly outstanding. This is especially true for Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson, who is really the lynch-pin of the film. It is a pleasure to see Dr. Watson portrayed well (a doctor and accomplished chronicler after all!) instead of nothing more than the stereotypical bumbling oaf. The story is compelling and entertaining with action and humor in just the right measures. Tennis, fencing, and high-speed chases (by train)!
I can imagine that some Holmes purist might take exception to film, but I think that this original flight of fancy is far better than anything out of Hollywood based on stories that Conan Doyle did write. And the film itself even takes a bit of a bow to the Holmes mythos and Doyle's own designs. I won't give it away, but just listen the last lines in the film as Holmes says goodbye to Watson.
As to the quality of the DVD, however, this one is unexceptional. Just try to let yourself enjoy this 5-star film and don't get too caught up in the media (still, to be fair, the DVD has too lose a star because of the DVD, even if the film itself is great).
This is an off-beat Sherlock Holmes film that rings true. If you're looking for pure fare, just the way Doyle wrote it, look for something by the BBC, such as the Jeremy Brett series of the past decade. If you like this film, try "They Might Be Giants" starring George C. Scott. It, too, is a bit of a 'strange' Sherlock Holmes film that nevertheless seems right.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 1999
Format: DVD
This is the best Sherlock Holmes motion picture.
The plot, characters, acting, direction, production are all quite good. Nicholas Meyer wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of his very fine novel which resulted in a handsomely crafted and very engaging entertainment. Meyer remains faithfull in spirit to the Canon and takes us on an enjoyable and plausable adventure that moves along at a good pace. Highly recommended!
I regret to say, this early Universal DVD is NOT presented in it's theatrical widescreen ratio. Pan and scan is evident in a few scenes and the images feel claustrophophic. The sound is mono but I thought it was stereo back in 1976. There are no extras. Neither is this disk 16x9 enhanced.
This film deserves to be redone and reissued. And please, Universal, redo that cover. This IS a Sherlock Holmes story. Your theatrical poster art would be welcome here.
There are substantialy less than a handful of Sherlock Holmes films on DVD. Why this is so is a mystery. At the very least we should have Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Christopher Plummer and James Mason in Murder by Decree, and Basil Rathbone in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2006
Format: DVD
From the opening to the closing credits, filled with illustrations that originally accompanied Doyle's stories in the Strand, the details of the movie are painstakingly accurate when compared to those in the canon. This is one non-canonical Holmes story that exists in the same world as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

The movie takes the liberty of assuming that all of Dr. Watson's accounts of Sherlock Holmes are true, except for one. That would be "The Final Problem", in which the great detective supposedly dies at the hands of his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty. The movie suggests that this story is merely a cover up for a period in time in which Holmes was getting help with his cocaine addiction from none other than famous psychiatrist Sigmund Freud.

The settings and characters ring true to both Doyle's mysteries and the Sydney Paget illustrations that accompanied them. Sherlock Holmes' deerstalker and cloak, though never mentioned by Doyle, look more like Paget's illustrations than ever before, more rugged than in most film interpretations. American actor Robet Duvall, despite sometimes struggling with the British accent, portrays Watson as an intellectually and physically fit comrade for Holmes, not a bumbler. Laurence Olivier's Prof. Moriarty matches the vision of Doyle and Paget rather than the cliché mustache twirler of other movies. Only now, Moriarty isn't really a criminal mastermind. He's Holmes' childhood math tutor.

Alan Arkin depicts Freud as a man of intelligence, insight, and above all, honor.

The inclusion of lesser known characters like Mycroft Holmes and Toby is a plus. There are also references, both direct and sly, to canonical Holmes stories.

While Nicol Williamson's performance as Sherlock Holmes lacks the vigor and spark of Basil Rathbone or Christopher Plummer, Williamson succeeds in showing Holmes as a troubled individual rather than a god. The movie mixes drama, subtle humor, mystery, and even action, finally showing Holmes as the capable fighter he was in the canon. The end of the film strays from the books in order to explore the uncharted territory of Holmes' childhood, providing a deeply moving climax.

This may come truer to Sir Arthur's original vision than any other pastiche written for film so far.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2000
Format: DVD
This is one of the great adventure romps ever put on film with some of the most deliciously quirky casting ever. But be aware that the picture quality is not up to dvd standards. This is distributed by a company call image and I will now be suspicious of their products in the future. I can see digializing grain in the picture that does not allow me to crank up the detail on my tv like I normally do for dvd's. This was especially disappointing since they are getting a high price for this older product.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2009
Format: DVD
I own this movie on 12" laserdisc format. Unfortunately I haven't had the laserdisc player hooked up in a long time. I've always loved this film. Certainly far above average. I only wish Nicol Williamson would have finished the Granada television Holmes series after Jeremy Brett died. That was sort of a fantasy casting idea. He is superb as Holmes in The Seven Percent Solution. And what can you say about Robert Duvall? You know he's up to the task.

The DVD is out of print in the USA as of this writing (August 2009), and it costs an arm and a leg on the used market.

However, if you have a region-free player, I would check the UK amazon site. You can probably get a Region 2 PAL copy of this movie for about $8 plus shipping. It's also been re-released on DVD in Australia (which the site I'm looking at says is also PAL format -- I don't know, I've never bought anything from Australia).

With most DVD players, you can find a little trick with the remote to make it region-free (Google is your friend). Wikipedia's article on "DVD Region Code" states, "Most freeware and open source DVD players, such as VLC, ignore region coding. Most commercial players are locked to a region code, but can be easily changed with software." Likely you could view it on your computer with VLC player. So, if you're a fan of this movie, and you don't mind a small technical challenge... it is available at reasonable prices. I think I'm going to get the import.

Update 10/2011: I did indeed buy the import, and the picture quality is fine. Since I only watch movies on my computer, it was no problem to convert it to a format that can be played with common software players. The movie appears to have been filmed largely through a gauzy lens -- i.e. the focus is soft, there is not a lot of detail. I don't believe it is a flaw in the mastering of the DVD. That's just the way the original film looks. I'm very glad I bought this from amazon.uk, as it is one of my favorite films, the best non-canonical Holmes ever done.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2003
Format: DVD
It's the only Sherlock Holmes-inspired movie I have ever thoroughly enjoyed. It's funny, intriguing, clever and even romantic. It takes a lot of poetic liberties with the characters, both the fictional (Sherlock & co) and the real ones (Sigmund Freud), but it ennobles and humanizes them, so fans of both can have nothing to complain about.
The movie does something very interesting: Freud psychoanalyzes Sherlock and 'explains' him.If only it was that easy in real life...but you know that you can never walk away with a full proof 'explanation' to the conundrum that is Sherlock Holmes. Still, as the saying goes, if they did not get it right, they have made a very good point.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 22, 2001
Format: DVD
'The Seven Percent Solution' begins as a masterful telling of Detective Sherlock Holmes and his cocaine addiction, as told by Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall). To help free Holmes from his addiction, Watson seeks the help of Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). After treatment begins, all three men are hot on the trail of a kidnapper.
The film is really two stories: Holmes and his cocaine treatment/withdrawl, and the kidnapping. Holmes' treatment is the more interesting story and is handled more expertly. All three actors make what begins as the best Holmes/Watson cast ever to hit the screen. All are excellent, but Robert Duvall really loses himself in the role of Dr. Watson. Clearly outstanding work. The nightmare that is Holmes' cocaine addiction is both powerful and gripping. It's too bad that the kidnapping and chase scenes are nowhere near as interesting or as well done as the other parts of the story. What would have been the definitive Sherlock Holmes film becomes instead a very good entry into the Holmes/Watson film saga.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2007
Format: DVD
This film has haunted me since I first saw it in the 70's, to some extent because prior to that, my viewing experience of Holmes was our standard---yet deeply appreciated---Basil Rathbone interpretation. This fulsome breathing of life into Doyle's Holmes and Watson was a complete delight---Nichol Williamson and Robert Duvall more than do the stories justice.
Since Williamson's Holmes is lost in the throes of cocaine addiction as the story begins, the journey to free him of it carries us forward to Vienna and Dr. Sigmund Freud to aid Holmes in rehab.
Duvall's Watson has since then been my favourite interpretation due to his capturing the essence of Watson's upright, un-bumbling, and throughly splendid character. Then to add Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud is a master stroke. Only Arkin and David Suchet have been able to interpret the much maligned doctor to my satisfaction. Vannessa Redgrave also does a lovely turn as a fellow sufferer to drug addiction---her absolute trust in Freud is quite poignant. And last, but not least, Nicol Williamson's Holmes certainly does justice to Holmes' extreme nature, his theatricality, and his extraordinary mind. (Williamson's HAMLET, directed by Tony Richardson, ought not to be missed, either.)
Others have been less than generous about the film's flaws, but it's casting, photography, intriguing storyline far outweigh the nigglers. It's a beautiful step back into pre-Edwardian Europe (the Queen is still living), and even has an amusing little Stephen Sondheim ditty thrown in when we venture into an upscale Vienese house of ill-repute.
I am utterly appalled that THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION is not available on DVD, but hope in the near future that it may be.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2009
Format: DVD
Got this from the library a long time ago and enjoyed it's exploration of the Sherlock Holmes psyche. This is what makes the "House" series so interesting; it's not just clever puzzles being solved/resolved, but the source of genius and it's interaction with the common world. What does a master detective do for breakfast? How does he deal with irritating people?

Anyways the only reason I wrote this is because I saw the ridiculous prices being asked by the private sellers. I was compelled by evil to write this. You'd have to be out of your mind to pay what they are asking. Greedy #*!s. I ended up getting my own copy from a much more reasonable source after googling it. I recommend being patient and waiting for it to be put back on the market and check the libraries, or buy from UK. Don't let people gouge you!
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2003
Format: DVD
The movie itself gets at least four stars, but minus two for the studio for being so purblind as to issue it with a third of the picture lopped off. Gee, folks, can't you at least give us a choice to watch the entire movie?
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