A strange movie that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Sentimental, biting, satirical, whimsical, and self-righteous, it begins with a romp at high speed, then goes straight into a hole from which it never emerges. Scott is an aging, recently widowed judge who has gone off the
deep end. He believes that he is Sherlock Holmes, so he dresses, speaks, and comports himself like Doyle's famed detective. His brother is Rawlins, a cad who is being blackmailed and would like to see Scott placed in an institution so he can get his hands on the money in Scott's estate. Scott is
taken to a clinic and meets Woodward, whose name just happens to be "Watson." When Scott uses Holmesian logic to correctly assess the problems of one of her patients, she is impressed. Clark is a short, fat man who thinks he is Rudolph Valentino but is unable to speak. Scott reckons that Clark
won't talk because Valentino was, after all, a star of silent pictures. Clark is thrilled that someone understands, and as he leaves, Scott tells him to pass on regards to Vilma Banky. Woodward plays along with Scott, aiding him in his "work" just as her fictional namesake helped Sherlock. Scott's
brother has left a blackmail note lying around which mentions "twenty grand," and Scott feels that it's a clue which will help him trap his long-time enemy, the heinous Professor Moriarty. He takes the note literally, and he and Woodward go downtown to No. 20 Grand Street. That begins a chase that
is missing only the wild geese. They travel through Manhattan, visit an aged couple (Miner and Fuller) who have not come out of their home since before WW II, sneak into a telephone company switchboard office, visit a library and meet Gilford, an aged keeper of the books who dreams of being "The
Scarlet Pimpernel," then on to a movie house on 42nd Street, where Scott engages in conversation with the flotsam who make the theater their home. Rawlins' blackmailer tracks Scott all the while, hoping to get enough on him to have him committed once and for all. Scott keeps telling Woodward that
he can darn near smell Moriarty and that they are getting closer. While Woodward makes dinner for Scott at her place, shots ring out and Scott is nearly killed. Late in the movie Scott and Woodward are joined by all the nuts they've met earlier, and they form a hardy band. It seems that the whole
group shares a paranoia, and each has another identity. They all march into a huge supermarket, and Scott takes the manager's microphone and announces outlandish prices on items, setting off a chaotic scene. By this time, instead of curing Scott, Woodward has entered into Scott's world and is just
as crazy as he is. The two stand in Central Park at night and walk toward a tunnel. They hear the clop of horses' hooves in the tunnel, and Scott is convinced that Moriarty approaches, but before anything is completed, the screen fades to white and this ponderous statement appears: "the human
heart can see what is hidden to the eyes, and the heart knows things that the mind does not begin to understand."
Whatever it means, it's as enigmatic as most of this disappointing movie. Goldman did the screenplay from his stage play that never did make it to New York. The supermarket sequence was cut from the theatrical prints, then restored for the TV showings. It's a lot of nonsense cloaked in platitudes.
Scott is funny, Woodward is a good foil, the peripheral characters are all well-drawn from the reality of the populace in New York, and yet the picture doesn't hold together. AMADEUS Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham does a bit.
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- Released: 1971
- Rating: G
- Review: A strange movie that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Sentimental, biting, satirical, whimsical, and self-righteous, it begins with a romp at high speed, then goes straight into a hole from which it never emerges. Scott is an aging, recently widow… (more)