Stars: Alan Arkin, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Duvall, Nicol Williamson, Laurence Olivier
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 113 minutes
Writer Nicholas Meyer (who went on to write two of the best Star Trek films) made his bones with his adaptation of his bestselling novel, directed by Herbert Ross. Fanciful and entertaining, it imagines what might have happened had Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall) convinced Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) to seek a cure for his cocaine addiction from Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). This meeting of the minds takes a turn into adventure when Holmes and Freud team up to solve a kidnapping mystery. Arkin is intriguingly likable as Freud, while Williamson makes a keen and frenetic Holmes. Duvall is almost unrecognizable as the avuncular, phlegmatic Watson. Laurence Olivier turns up as Professor Moriarty, who is hardly the criminal mastermind that the drug-deluded Holmes believes. --Marshall Fine
Doctor Watson, Mr. Holmes is convinced that I am some sort of criminal mastermind of the most depraved order. I know he is a great and good man. All England resounds with his praise. But in my case he fosters a ghastly illusion and I come to you as his friend rather than turning the matter over to my solicitor.
Who am I, that your friends should wish us to meet?
Beyond the fact that you are a brilliant Jewish physician who was born in Hungary and studied for a while in Paris, and that certain radical theories of yours have alienated the respectable medical community so that you have severed your connections with various hospitals and branches of the medical fraternity, beyond this I can deduce little. You're married, with a child of... five. You enjoy Shakespeare and possess a sense of honour.
I never guess: it is an appalling habit, destructive to the logical faculty. A private study is an ideal place for observing facets of a man's character. That the study belongs to you exclusively is evident from the dust: not even the maid is permitted here, else she would scarcely have ventured to let matters come to this pass.
Very well. Now, when a man collects books on a subject, they're usually grouped together, but notice, your King James Bible, your Book of Mormon, and Koran are separate, across the room in fact, from your Hebrew Bible and Talmud, which sit on your desk. Now these books have a special importance for you not connected with a general study of religion, obviously. The nine-branched candelabra on your desk confirms my suspicion that you are of the Jewish faith; it is called a menorah, is it not?
That you studied medicine in Paris is to be inferred from the great number of medical texts in that language. Where else should a German use French textbooks but in France, and who but a brilliant German could understand the complexities of medicine in a foreign tongue? That you're fond of Shakespeare is to be deduced from this book, which is lying face downwards. The fact that you have not adjusted the volume suggests to my mind that you no doubt intended referring to it again in the near future. (Hm, not my favorite play.) The absence of dust on the cover would tend to confirm this hypothesis. That you're a physician is evident when I observe you maintain a consulting room. Your separation from various societies is indicated by these blank spaces surrounding your diploma, clearly used at one time to display additional certificates. Now, what can it be that forces a man to remove these testimonials to his success? Why, only that he has ceased to affiliate himself with these various societies and hospitals and so forth, and why do this, having once troubled to join them all? It is possible that he became disenchanted with one or two of them, but NOT likely that his disillusionment extended to all. Rather, I postulate it is THEY who became disenchanted with YOU, doctor, and asked you to resign, from all of them. Why, I've no idea. But some position you have taken, evidently a medical one, has discredited you in their eyes. I take the liberty of inferring a theory of some sort, too radical or shocking to gain ready acceptance in current medical thinking. Your wedding ring tells me of your marriage, your Balkanized accent hints Hungary or Moravia, the toy soldier on the floor here ought, I think, to belong to a... small boy of five? Have I omitted anything of importance?
My sense of honour.
Oh, it is implied by the fact that you have removed the plaques from the societies to which you no longer belong. In the privacy of your study, only you would know the difference.
Dr. John H. Watson:
But how will you live?
When my arm is better, you would do well to follow the concert career of a violinist... named Sigerson!
Dr. John H. Watson:
But your readers - my readers - what will I tell them?
Anything you like! Tell them I was murdered by my mathematics tutor; they'll never believe you in any case!
Journeys alone are always so tedious, don't you find? 'Specially when they are long.
Will this be a long journey?
That all depends. But I do think it will seem shorter if there are two of us... don't you?
I hope it will not seem too short.
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