Depending on your perspective, Billy Wilder’s revisionist take on literature’s most famous detective was a theatrical flop either because philistines at United Artists cut the film nearly by half, or audiences weren’t ready for a wise-cracking, practical joke-playing Sherlock Holmes. In any event, this new laserdisc edition of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes provides a glimpse of what might have been: Following the wide-screen but cut version of the film, it presents one deleted sequence that’s almost complete (the sound has been lost, but subtitles are appended), as well as the entire audio track of another missing episode, the original shooting script, and various odds and ends including an interview with film editor Ernest Walter. It’s a tantalizing coda to what is — even in this truncated form — a vastly entertaining romp. B+
Posted June 10 1994 — 12:00 AM EDT
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