The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
DVD + Blu-ray
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The worlds two greatest masters of the art of deduction, Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud, meet for the first time in this delightful mystery adventure based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Meyer. This stylishly directed entertainment boasts a superb cast headed by Nicol Williamson as Holmes, Alan Arkin as Freud and, in a brilliant example of off-beat casting, Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson. To this ingenious tale of detection, addiction and abduction must be added the excitement of the chase - capped by a sword fight on top of a puffing locomotive roaring across Europe!
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I'm kind of a Holmes/Watson fanatic (along with a Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin one!) so the changes in the cannon bothered me then. Having Sherlock's dad kill his mom for cheating with Profession Moriarty was both clever AND irritating. Clever in so much as it explains much of Holmes character, choose of career, mistrust (on some level) of females, etc, etc..
But irritating because it changes the basic Holmes character in too many ways - at last for me.
The pictures was great - at least as good as it was when first released - sound was very good as well! Price was just $20 and included shipping. The Blu-ray arrived very quickly and in new condition.
I would rate this movie a little higher having seen it 3 times now - 8.25 to 8.75 recommended if Holmes/Watson fan, mystery fan in general or just curious to see Holmes reimaged slightly!
Movie is great
When the book was first published, Nicholas Meyer almost single handedly invented a new kind of mystery novel. In a very creative way he brought together historical figures and fictional characters. That Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud are both products of German Rationalism and logical analysis help to make the entire premise more compelling. The reminder that the fictional Holmes had been a drug user was also a powerful thing back in the mid-70s. In short, the book was a very memorable read.
I had all but forgotten ever seeing the movie. Having just watched it 30 plus years later, I know why. Despite a very strong cast, the movie is mostly forgettable. Maybe worth one viewer rather than owning..
First the good:
Nicols Williams portrayal of Holmes initially irritated me. Then I realized that he was acting out a drug addicted, demon haunted Holmes. The contrast with his portrayal of a sober Holmes constitute excellent acting. The scenes of Holmes going cold turkey are well enough performed, but the director lacked imagination. This is all the usual going sober scenes you usually see.
I agree with others that having a competent, effective Dr. Watson is a good decision. I agree that Robert Duval handles this role well. However his character is in fact very minor, very secondary and in the end lost. Even so, letting Watson finally get to cold cock Holmes was a nice touch. After this scene Dr. Watson mostly disappears having run out of competence or good ideas.
Alan Arkin as Dr. Freud is able, except when he cannot decide what his accent should be.
Then again, accents are a problem throughout this movie.
I almost forgot Sir Laurence Olivier, doing an eloquent and convincing Professor Moriarty. In this movie the evil Moriarty is a put upon, aging mathematics professor and former tutor. Unfortunately he is only needed for about 5 minutes and so bright moment that his performance may be, it is but a brief moment.
Every female character is peripheral and underwritten as to be unworthy of comment. Mostly this is not a big deal, except to say that any woman with red hair could have played the Vanessa Redgrave character. Her inclusion was as much a waste of talent as was Joel Gray's. The former drugged out or inert throughout the movie, the latter buried under his costume, makeup and a mumbled, impenetrably accented dialog.
The villains are stock, flat and even less intelligent than is usual in a poor movie. The criminal plot is secondary to the issue of the cocaine addiction, and is mostly true to the book. On screen it takes too long and the logical impossibilities are too apparent.
Tiny example: two trains begin from the same station, with the same destination and find themselves on parallel tracks. The engine with a fraction of the weight to pull is barely able to overtake the one under higher load. Meantime the evil villains, despite having overwhelming firepower take the occasional pot shots at the slowly overtaking train; then retreat back into their train. This gives the good guys time to complete the mission of daring do, but makes no sense. Perhaps if the entire train chase had been shorter, there would not have been the time to count how many things in this sequence ask for too much suspension of disbelief.
Bottom line: worth viewing. More to like than dislike, but only just barely. Given the $18 Price as of June 2013, maybe this is a candidate for pay per view.