Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Alternate title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother
United Kingdom/USA, 1975. Jouer Films, Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Gene Wilder, based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Cinematography by Gerry Fisher. Produced by Richard A. Roth. Music by John Morris. Production Design by Terence Marsh. Costume Design by Ruth Myers. Film Editing by Jim Clark.
Gene Wilder reunites with Young Frankenstein co-stars Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman for a gently humorous spoof of the Sherlock Holmes legend. After a sensitive political document is stolen from one of Queen Victoria’s ministers, Holmes’s assistance is requested but he passes the job off to his younger brother Sigerson Holmes (Wilder, who also writes and directs). Sigerson immediately investigates the involvement of a music hall chanteuse (Kahn) with ties to the palace, enlisting the aid of Feldman as his would-be Watson. A few of the sequences really zing, particularly the ones that give Kahn the opportunity to sing, but fans of the Mel Brooks films won’t like the lack of relentless, energetic sight gags; Wilder is more interested in the long con, his humour comes out slow and subtle (just him introducing himself as Sigerson is hilarious). Said humour is not successfully applied to Arthur Conan Doyle’s world, though, the plot isn’t all that interesting and its twists are often confusing, and you get the impression that Wilder isn’t all that familiar with the traditions of the Holmes stories (which is why Without A Clue is so much better as a playful spin on the franchise, heck even Young Sherlock Holmes works better). Where Young Frankenstein seemed to be happening in the corner of a real thirties film, this one is just shallow silliness, never effectively subverting the character it is lampooning, but it’s not without its pleasures.