The Seven-Per-Cent Solution on Blu-ray and DVD

(left to right) Alan Arkin, Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall in "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution"

(left to right) Alan Arkin, Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall in “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution”

“The Seven-Per-Cent Solution,” the 1976 Oscar nominated, Nicholas Meyer scripted, Sherlock Holmes tale will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 22. The film is not based on any of the original Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (referred to as “the canon” by my late father, a Holmes enthusiast).  Despite this, Meyer, who wrote the screenplay based on his novel of the same title, has created a ripping yarn in the best tradition of Conan Doyle, seamlessly weaving together fact and fiction (although my father would never admit that Holmes was a fictional character).   

“The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” film boasts a stellar cast, including 2013 Oscar nominee Alan Arkin (for “Argo”).  How amazing to see Arkin, still going strong today, 36 years ago playing a very convincing Sigmund Freud.  Holmes, played with obsessive, drug addicted, maniacal zeal by Nicol Williamson, has been tricked, by his partner Watson, to travel to Vienna on the trail of Holmes’ arch enemy Moriarty.   Once there Watson hopes to have none other than Freud himself help the great detective kick his cocaine addiction.  Watson is played by Robert Duvall.  Duvall, an actor also still working, has always been able to inhabit characters with a chameleon like finesse and does so brilliantly here.  His Watson is loyal to Holmes while, at the same time, defines himself as his own man.  As Holmes says to Watson during the film’s exciting climactic sequence, “Don’t ever let them say you were my second.”  Williamson plays Holmes with intelligence, fire, toughness and vulnerability.  It is a performance which maintains Holmes’ eccentricities while allowing Williamson to put his own stamp on the character.  The film’s supporting cast members include Lawrence Olivier, Vanessa Redgrave and Joel Grey.

I remember seeing “The Seven-Per-Cent” solution, at the age of 15, about a year after its initial release, on a double bill with, of all movies, “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977), at a second run theatre, the Kent Cinema, in Yonkers.  Yes, Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason and 2013 Oscar nominee Sally Field (for “Lincoln”) shared the screen that night with the great detective.  Granted, it was an incongruous double feature to be sure, but also a lot of fun.

“The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” is a sumptuous looking period piece that has been given its due with a beautiful high definition transfer.  The story is literate and exciting.  Perhaps the opening credits put it best when they tell us that, “Only the facts have been made up.”


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on January 18, 2013, in Now on DVD and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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