Century 1970: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Billy Wilder. 1970.

What a strange and awkward film. Is Wilder going for a 40s comedy but updating it embarrassingly with a gay panic storyline?

But it’s mostly just a cod-standard Sherlock Holmes story. Although slightly more irreverent than usual and not based on a Conan Doyle story.

It’s pretty entertaining. But it’s so… incongruous. It’s not the sort of thing you’d expect to find as a theatrical release in 1970. A TV episode; sure. A film; no.

Ah! It was conceived as a three hour extravaganza with an intermission; an entire evening at the cinema. The studio didn’t like the idea, so it was cut down to a more sensible two hours and several plot lines were edited out.

It failed at the box office, which I think is no great surprise. The bits that were edited out were discarded and there’s apparently no hope of recreating the original extravaganza.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

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