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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution


The Seven-Per-Cent Solution ~ Combining two themes I've been writing about here and elsewhere this year, I look at a Sherlock Holmes movie from the 1970s. Having never seen this one before, all I remember of hearing about it was the much ado about Holmes' drug use. That's not that big a deal however as it's from the books, and therefore canon.

The film sets its tone immediately with the opening credits, which reminded me unfortunately of those of Monty Python and the Holy Grail from the year before. This was to be a comedy then. The story purports that Moriarty's evil was a drug induced paranoid delusion of the detective's, and that he needed the help of Sigmund Freud to get well. In hypnosis sessions, the 'true' origins of Sherlock Holmes are revealed.

The cast is filled with major star power including Robert Duvall as Watson with an impossible English accent. Alan Arkin as Freud, the underrated Charles Gray as Mycroft (a role he would play again in the PBS Jeremy Brett Holmes series), and Nicol Williamson as the simpering, almost imbecilic Holmes are all brilliant, and that's not even mentioning Sir Lawrence Olivier as the maligned Prof. Moriarty. It's not the way I want to see my Holmes, but there's no denying the great performance.

The film is based on the first of three Sherlock Holmes books by author and director Nicholas Meyer, who also received an Oscar nom for the screenplay. He is obviously a huge Holmes fan, and all three of the books were designed to fill in the blanks of the detective's life, as well as dismiss some of the canon he felt didn't quite fit. Sadly, the later included Moriarty.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a beautifully shot, wickedly performed, and well designed mystery adventure, well worth watching, but it's not the kind of Sherlock Holmes story I want to see. I guess, in the end, I'm a traditionalist.

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