The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes


The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)


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Movie Info

'Private Life' is both an elegiac evocation of late Victorian England and a boldly modern take on the dark side of the "real" Sherlock Holmes.

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Critic Reviews for The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7)

The entire effort may, I think, be ascribed to an insufficiency of imagination.

Feb 7, 2018 | Full Review…

It is in large part old-fashioned, in that it's mile-wide and ancient-history Sherlock Holmes, but it's also handsomely produced and directed with incisiveness by Wilder.

Aug 14, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A wonderful, cruelly underrated film.

Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Wilder's second most underrated masterpiece.

Sep 29, 2005
Top Critic

Before the movie is 20 minutes old, Wilder has settled for simply telling a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Affectionately conceived, chock-full of marvelous subtleties, this meticulously constructed adventure-romance shouldn't be missed.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

There have been many Sherlock Holmes films, but this is one of the best thanks to Wilder and a flawless lead performance by Stephens.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

A different take on the myth if Sherlock Holmes. In this he is all too human: a drug addict, a homosexual, and not even too swift as a detective. At least the film is accomplished with talent, but it leaves a disquieting feeling of dissatisfaction seeing a heroic figure fail so many ways. The character one is lead to empathize with the most with loses at the end ... most irregular. Watch at your own peril.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Holmes: We all have occasional failures. Fortunately Dr. Watson never writes about mine.  "My private life is my own affair." The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is a interesting and thoroughly entertaining mystery from the great Billy Wilder. The first half hour is about as much into the private life of Sherlock Holmes as you'll get. The title is a little misleading because this is still a standard Holmes picture. Wilder just added some confusion about Holmes sexuality and the idea that when Holmes is not busy on a case, he likes to indulge in cocaine. After that there is no real difference plot wise, to any other Sherlock Holmes movie, except this better than average. Holmes is bored with no case to take his interest. Then one night a woman arrives at his doorstep. Apparently an attempt was just made on her life, and now she doesn't know much about herself. The next morning she remembers everything. She came to Holmes for him to help her find her husband. This mystery takes us to Scotland and involves a variety of weird things like the Loch Ness monster, midgets and canaries.  The performance by Robert Stephens as Sherlock Holmes is spot on. He portrays the detective brilliantly. Then there's Colin Blakely who is an admirable Dr. Watson, and the iconic Christopher Lee as Sherlock's brother. The plot is pretty cool, with weird occurrences adding to the mystery of the case.  The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is fun throughout and sporadically funny. Wilder's witty touch is perfect for a Sherlock Holme's film. I was a little disappointed this didn't dive more into the personal life of Holme's, but as a straight detective story, it is a damn good one.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

I've only seen a few of the older, black & white, more sinister Sherlock Holmes movies. I enjoyed the occasional laughs this story provided and how Wilder was unafraid to show some aspects of Sherlock Holmes that were not traditionally portrayed. In the special features on my DVD I learned that Wilder and Diamond intended the movie to be in four parts, four mysteries Watson had supposedly locked up and not revealed to the public during his life. The movie was too long so the original full length preface describing this had to be scrapped as well as two of the mysteries and a flashback segment. As the movie stands today, Clive Revill is a Russian ballerina's assistant who sends for Holmes and his services in the first part. The services required are not what you'd expect, but then this is a Billy Wilder movie and you shouldn't expect the sort of mysteries of the old days. The second larger part is closer to a traditional mystery and brings Genevieve as Ms. Valladon into the picture. She provides a good steady third leg to Stephens as Sherlock and Blakely as the Doctor for the majority of the film. Christopher Lee also appears as Sherlock's brother Mycroft who works for the government and adds ambivalence to whether Her Majesty's government may be involved in a cover up. The three main characters follow the clues to Scotland and a few castles around Loch Ness. The ending with Queen Victoria is satirical, but pretty silly. Still it is a fun movie with great production values recreating the time period!

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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