review for The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes on AllMovie

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
by Lucia Bozzola review

Mellow and romantic, Billy Wilder's mutilated late masterwork is more an intimate portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle's famed coke-sniffing, violin-loving, super-rational detective than a straightforward mystery. Shooting elegantly in England, Wilder and longtime co-writer I.A.L. Diamond mine humor from Holmes's suspect sexuality and make plain his drug habit. As played by Robert Stephens, their Holmes is a figure of melancholy and regret. His impossible romance with a woman who is his intellectual match reveals the incompatibility between a life of reason and a life of feeling, yet the poignant end of their relationship renders emotionally palpable what Holmes has lost by being a great detective. Episodic in structure and originally intended to be over three hours long, Sherlock Holmes was drastically cut after a disastrous preview; most of the cut footage is presumed lost. One hour shorter, it was a failure in 1970, but its critical reputation has since flourished due to its visual beauty and fine performances from Stephens, Colin Blakely as Dr. Watson, and Genevieve Page as Holmes's love. The laser disc version contained 12 minutes of restored footage.