The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was another Sherlock Holmes film when I first saw it I wasn't readily prepared to like. Much like my previous blog about The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, there were certain elements of the casting and direction of the story that I didn't entirely agree with.
The whole idea of an emotionally and mentally weak Holmes due to drug addiction didn't entirely appeal to me. The whole idea that Professor Moriarty was all a fabrication of Holmes's sick mind. And casting Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson just struck me as odd. Even the DVD case mentioned it as "oddball casting".
Even Nicol Williamson didn't fit the classic look of Sherlock Holmes that I prefer with actors like Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone.
For me, drawing a harsh opinion about a film without watching it doesn't seem fair. So I decided to sit down and watch it. If I'm going to hate a film I should at least watch it first.
Much like my previous experience with Private Life, I found myself enjoying the film. Once I got into it that is. The pre-movie credits ran a bit longer than I would want. And Robert Duval's British accent during the narration made me squirm slightly.
I should mention I like both Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall.
However, once I start getting into the film, I actually start enjoying this whole concept of Sherlock Holmes as a flawed hero. Again, not the way I would portray Holmes. But the story itself is very good.
I admit I have not read Nicholas Meyers book. It's on the "to do list".
The whole idea of Watson having Sherlock Holmes consulting Sigmund Freud (portrayed by Alan Arkin) to break him of his addiction to cocaine makes up a great deal of the plot. Him coming to terms with the past as well as his hatred for Professor Moriarty. Who is played surprisingly different by Sir Laurence Olivier. But looking very much the way Sidney Paget drew the character.
Despite my initial misgivings, I found both Williamson portrayal of Holmes and Duvall's Watson to be very enjoyable. My early bristling over his accent slowly go away the further into the movie I get. This is definitely a Watson you should be afraid will knock your teeth down your throat.
I also think this is the first Sherlock Holmes film that introduces Watson's wife Mary who first made her appearance in the story The Sign of Four.
I often wonder if many readers or fans of Holmes realize Watson is a married man.
The movie also involves Holmes in a kidnapping case with international implications centered around Lola Devereaux portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave.
The film also features two actors who go on to appear in the Jeremy Brett series. One in a larger way in the form of Charles Gray who appears as Mycroft Holmes in this film and then later on reprises the role in the Jeremy Brett series. The other in a smaller way with Jeremy Kemp as Baron von Leinsdorf who later appears as Dr Grimesby Roylott in the episode The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist.
I didn't enjoy the film as much as The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. However, much like that movie I found myself enjoying it by the end and found myself won over by the lead actors performances.
If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend you rent it and give it a chance. Even the ending's take on Sherlock Holmes's four year absence after the Final Problem is enjoyable.