Movie Review: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Synopsis: Long after his death, Dr. Watson's secret memoirs are revealed, discussing mysteries he chose to keep a secret while he and Sherlock Holmes were still alive. The biggest of these mysteries is Holmes' sexuality.

Who's in it? The movie stars Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Paige, Christopher Lee and Tamara Toumanova.

Review: I came across this movie a couple weeks ago and, not having seen it yet, decided to add it to my library. I finally had an opportunity to watch it and, unfortunately, didn't enjoy the film nearly as much as I thought I would.

I'll start out by saying I thought Stephens and Blakely made a good Holmes/Watson combo. This is especially true of Stephens, who played Holmes with the same seriousness I would expect him to have, despite the fact this was a comedy film. In fact, I'll even go as far as to say all the characters in this film were well-portrayed.

I think the biggest problem with this movie is the main central theme, whether or not Holmes is gay, is a dated concept that just doesn't play as well today as it probably did in 1970. I'll admit, there were a couple funny moments in the film that were the result of that, especially watching Watson dancing around with those ballerinas while Holmes spread rumors about their relationship but, at the same time, I felt like the movie spent a little too much time on it.

It probably would have helped if the film at least had a decent mystery but that proved not to be the case. Every time it looked like it would finally give Holmes a puzzle to solve, it wound up being spoiled. It was really too bad too, especially since a mystery involving the Loch Ness Monster would have been good.

Another thing I noticed about this film was the writers couldn't seem to decide if it was supposed to be a comedy or something darker. Holmes' drug use, for example, was a fairly depressing subject for a comedy film (though it did stay true to the books). Plus, that ending was a pretty big downer that could have used a lot more effort to lighten things up just a bit. It would have been different had the writers committed and made this a serious film from the start. At least then, I would have expected that.

Final Opinion: I didn't completely hate the movie, but the dated material and lack of a decent mystery resulted in it being a bit of a disappointment for me.

My Grade: C


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