Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother [1975]

After co-writing and starring in Mel Brooks' smash hit Young Frankenstein, Gene Wilder graduated to his own directing debut with another spoofy take on a cultural icon. The 1975 Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother gives Wilder some great trademark meltdowns, even if the movie doesn't sustain its initial comic energy. Wilder plays Sigerson Holmes, third (and bitterly resentful) brother to the more fabled Sherlock and Mycroft. Two Young Frankenstein co-stars help bring the game afoot: Madeline Kahn, as an opera singer with a problem in distinguishing truth from lies, and Marty Feldman, as a Scotland Yard man with "photographic hearing." The long early sequence that introduces all three characters to each other--and culminates in a lunatic song-and-dance number, "The Kangaroo Hop"--is truly funny, and Dom DeLuise summons up some broad yoks as a singer with a bad toupee. The British are represented by Leo McKern and Roy Kinnear, as well as a mysterious cameo by Albert Finney. (Mel Brooks isn't around, but you can spot his unmistakable pipes in a moment of voiceover.) Things become routine fairly quickly, and the last half-hour is something of a slog, so you'll have to be a Gene Wilder fan to love this one. Still, the rapport of Wilder and Kahn is something to behold: two expert comedians who always suggested an undercurrent of melancholy beneath their clowning. --Robert Horton

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