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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

This unjustly forgotten Billy Wilder film takes on the much-loved character of Sherlock Holmes and attempts to humanize him by examining his vulnerabilities: his ambiguous sexuality and his cocaine addiction. Told via an unpublished manuscript by Dr. Watson (Blakely), the story begins with a bored, frustrated Sherlock Holmes (Stephens), who turns to cocaine between cases. One evening a beautiful Belgian woman, Gabrielle Valladon (Page), turns up at 221B Baker Street asking Holmes to find her missing husband. Although warned by his mysterious brother, Mycroft (Lee), to abandon the case, Holmes persists and the trail leads to Scotland's Loch Ness, where Holmes and Watson come face to face with the legendary monster. Although the film was cut by more than 30 minutes by United Artists, what is left of this satirical, intimate look at the revered character is intriguing and wholly entertaining. Nevertheless it it bombed at the box office. The sets were designed under the direction of Alexander Trauner, who re-created, in detail, the Victorian atmosphere of Holmes's London residence, including a massive back-lot reproduction of Baker Street. The score by Miklos Rozsa is one of his most impressive, and he can be seen conducting it during the ballet sequence. Robert Stephens is an excellent, never-before-seen Holmes, one with wild mood swings which veil his insecurities. Colin Blakely's Dr. Watson is loyal, humorous, and energetic, while Christopher Lee as Mycroft is excellent, making him the only actor in Holmes screen history to play both the detective (in the German-made SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE NECKLACE OF DEATH) and his brother.