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The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray]
(Billy Wilder, 1970)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: The Mirisch Production Company
Video: Kino / Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,669,775,426 bytes
Feature Size: 17,604,698,112 bytes
Video Bitrate: 16.01 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 22nd, 2014
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1624 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1624 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (SDH), None
• Featurette (15:17)
• Editor Interview (28:40)
• Deleted Scenes (50:04)
• Deleted Epilogue Scene (6:21 - audio only)
• Trailer (3:00)
Description: The acting, photography and score are tops (Leonard Maltin) in this lively satirical homage from legendary director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) and his long-time writing partner I.A.L. Diamond (The Apartment). When a beautiful woman claims that her dear husband has disappeared, the investigation takes Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) and Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely) to Scotland, where to their surprise they uncover a plot involving a clandestine society, Her Majesty s Secret Service... and the Loch Ness Monster! But before he can deduce matters to the elementary, Holmes makes an error that may jeopardize the national safety of Britain... and ruin his reputation! The stellar supporting cast includes Christopher Lee, Genevieve Page, Tamara Toumanova, Clive Revill and Stanley Holloway.
In Billy Wilder's cinematic homage to the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British stage luminary Robert Stephens plays Holmes, while Colin Blakely is his friend and chronicler Dr. Watson. This self-described "hitherto suppressed and thoroughly fascinating" tale concerns Holmes' search for a missing mining engineer -- a case that may have a far-reaching effect on the national security of England. Along the way, Holmes falls in love for the first time in his life, with enigmatic foreign beauty Gabrielle Valladon (Genevieve Page). In this 1970 film, Wilder emphasizes such then-current topics as homosexuality (notably during the film's prologue) and drug addiction. Christopher Lee, a former screen Holmes himself, has a cameo (minus toupee) as Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes. Heavily re-edited and rearranged both before and after its release, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was a box-office disappointment when it came out in 1970. Since that time, its reputation has grown immeasurably, especially among those lucky enough to have seen a complete print.
A wonderful, cruelly underrated film. Although there are some terrifically funny moments, and on one level the Wilder/Diamond conception of Conan Doyle's hero does tend to debunk the myth of the perfect sleuth (there are allusions to his misogyny and cocaine addiction), this alternative vision of Holmes sets up a stylish and totally appropriate story (concerning dwarfs, dead canaries, and the Loch Ness monster) as a context in which to explain the reason for Holmes' forsaking of his emotional life to become a thinking machine. Betrayal and lost love are the elements that catalyse this process, turning Holmes from a fallible romantic into a disillusioned cynic. With a stunning score by Miklós Rozsa, carefully modulated performances, lush location photography, and perfect sets by Trauner, it is Wilder's least embittered film and by far his most moving.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes comes to Blu-ray from the Kino / Lorber label. The image is underwhelming - single-layered with a low bitrate for the 2-hour film. Part of it may be the softer-focus appearance - supporting the period art direction. There is a flatness to the visuals although some colors are richer and tighter than most SD could relate. This is in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and looks quite healthy in-motion. The presentation is very clean, artifact and noise free. This Blu-ray isn't particularly striking - perhaps a combination of the transfer limitations and style the film was shot. It provides a consistent presentation - just not a very 'HD-impressive' one.
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Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1624 kbps. There aren't a lot od extensive aggressive effects in the film but the score, by iconic, Miklós Rózsa (The Lost Weekend, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Double Indemnity) supports the film's adventures quite playfully sounding clean and even throughout. There are optional subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
There are some supplements - we get an older, 15-minute, featurette entitled "Christopher Lee * Mr. Holmes, Mr. Wilder" where the actor discusses The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and 'the best director I ever worked for' Billy Wilder. We also spend almost a 1/2 hour with the film's Ernest Walter who also worked on such films as The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, The Haunting and 10 Rillington Place. There are almost 50-minutes of deleted scenes, plus 6-minutes of an audio-only epilogue and lastly, a trailer
July 7th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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