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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray]
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Mastered in HD - The "acting, photography and score are tops" (Leonard Maltin) in this lively satirical homage from legendary director 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, when to their surprise, they uncover a plot involving a 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! The stellar supporting cast includes Christopher Lee, Genevieve Page, Tamara Toumanova, Clive Revill and Stanley Holloway.
-Christopher Lee: Mr. Holmes, Mr. Wilder featurette
-Interview with editor Ernest Walter
-Additional Audio Sequence: Deleted Epilogue Scene
-Original theatrical trailer
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Like many have already expressed, the new BD is a disappointment. It *does* look marginally better than the old DVD, especially because it's not as overall bright as the DVD (although that varies in many spots between the DVD and BD) and is a bit clearer despite the way it was filmed (very soft and defused), but it exhibits a distracting pinkish tone especially early on and yes, there's numerous dirt, scratches, etc sporadically throughout, especially noticeable during the (day for night) outdoor coach scene 2/3rds through the movie. The beginning when the box of Holmes' artifacts is being opened with the credits, there's noticeable gate weave going on. Oddly, it appears a different source may have been used vs the old DVD at least for several reels of this transfer as there was little of the blems on the DVD that are seen on this BD. Finally, the encoding doesn't do this transfer any favors, it often looks too compressed.
Bonus features include interviews and "deleted scenes" which are mostly reconstructed from stills, images of the script and dialog only. Whoever threw together the bonus feature of the "Alternate Ending" should be embarrassed. A single out of context publicity still is onscreen instead of the footage present in over about 5 minutes worth of dialog from the same scene in the actual movie!
The movie itself kind of drags in places but it's more of a character study that rewards the viewer in bits and pieces over the long haul. For it's time, this was a bit of a daring take on Sherlock Holmes, putting his casual drug use and inferred homosexuality front and center in the character. I should also mention the music score by Miklos Rosa, especially the poignant violin coda is wonderful.
Overall, my pleasure at this particular movie getting a Blu-ray release is very diminished by the mediocre film source used for this release. I have a hard enough time justifying paying $30+ for old catalog titles from the likes of Twilight Time and Scream/Shout Factory but those companies at least release decent to excellent transfers using solid source material. Not so here from Kino/MGM. I would give this movie at least 3, maybe even 4 stars for the film itself but the quality of the transfer versus the steep price for a catalog title knocks it down to 2 stars.
I not only cannot recommend this Blu-ray, I recommend you stay as far away as possible. Someday maybe we'll get a proper transfer of this film, but that would require MGM/UA to actually care about their library (they don't) and to have someone who actually knows what the color of this film should look like and that certainly wouldn't be Kino (they don't).
Much later, I had the chance to have lunch with Colin Blakely. He was sad that scenes, which he said had been shot, were omitted, but he was very proud of his performance. He was pleased to be remembered as a great Dr. Watson. He was a charming man and a terrific actor.
Even in it's butchered state, this is one of the most interesting Sherlock films. Wilder doesn't really reinvent Holmes, but he, aided by Robert Stevens and Colin, brings a sadness, humanity and, yes, humor, to the genre. Perhaps Miklos Rozsa's score (reusing his Violin Concerto) gives the film it's soul.
It will always be a favorite, if flawed, film.
Top international reviews
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes released 48 years ago has not been treated kindly on disc and unfortunately this blu ray is not much better.
I bought this blu ray as gift for a close friend for his birthday and we where both shocked to witness the lack care of care for the movie itself.
damage and other amolies were seen in the movie, the restoration quality was sadly missing from the movie.
Open question to Eureka...
How could this film be allowed to pass quality control?
It's not acceptable for any film not to undergo any sort of restoration and clean up, it defeats the object of issuing the movie on HD Blu ray in the first place.
I cannot wholeheartedly endorse this release, it is shockingly terrible transfer and needs to be redone, so avoid.
more masters of cinema
more VHS quality
the movie is good
the extras are good
the booklet is good
the packaging is good
not so good is the quality of the feature film presentation
only buy if you want to see the extras
or you dont yet have this movie on VHS or DVD
if you do have this movie on VHS or DVD
and you would like to view the movie in a superior format
WAIT FOR IT TO BE BROADCAST ON TELEVISION
Generally the film looks pleasingly crisp, much better than the DVD. The film was shot with a slight veil of romantic softness, so it will never look razor sharp - but there is plenty of detail. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the image quality is for the vast majority of the film. It could have been done better, no doubt about it - but if you are a fan of this film do not hesitate.
The film is notable for Colin Blakely's admirable Dr Watson, but mainly for Robert Stephens' rather camp portrayal of Holmes - his performance alone makes the film worth seeing and in its own way is quite remarkable. Christopher Lee pops up as Holmes' brother Mycroft, and the lavish production design is excellent. One just regrets the film was cut from well over three hours to just two.
Subverting the usual Holmes story, Billy Wilder gives us a tour de force of great acting, a great supporting cast (Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes is a standout) and a film of great verve and comedy, the scenes involving the blundering Watson brining a smile to the proceedings.
As for Holmes himself, nobody has yet to better Robert Stephens portrayal of Holmes, a man fighting permanent boredom, needing a challenge, but ultimately being outdone by his great nemesis - womankind.
Beautifully shot, well acted, great script...the best film adaption of Holmes that we've ever seen, or ever likely to see.