In Billy Wilder's cinematic homage to the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, British stage luminary Robert Stephens plays Holmes, while Colin Blakely is his friend and chronicler Dr. Watson. This self-described "hitherto suppressed and thoroughly fascinating" tale concerns Holmes' search for a missing mining engineer -- a case that may have a far-reaching effect on the national security of England. Along the way, Holmes falls in love for the first time in his life, with enigmatic foreign beauty Gabrielle Valladon (Genevieve Page). In this 1970 film, Wilder emphasizes such then-current topics as homosexuality (notably during the film's prologue) and drug addiction. Christopher Lee, a former screen Holmes himself, has a cameo (minus toupee) as Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes. Heavily re-edited and rearranged both before and after its release, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was a box-office disappointment when it came out in 1970. Since that time, its reputation has grown immeasurably, especially among those lucky enough to have seen a complete print.
by Hal Erickson synopsis