The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) Film Review A-

Director  Billy Wilder has said he originally intended to portray Holmes explicitly as a repressed homosexual, stating:

I should have been more daring. I have this theory. I wanted to have Holmes homosexual and not admitting it to anyone, including maybe even himself. The burden of keeping it secret was the reason he took dope.

Billy Wilder: Gemünden, Gerd (2008). A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder’s American Films. Brooklyn: Berghahn Books. p. 147. ISBN978-1-78533-475-7.
BOTTOM LINE: Billy Wilder’s affectionate, slightly parodic look at the Holmes-Watson relationship. It’s August 1887, and Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) is approached by a famous Russian ballerina, Madame Petrova, who wishes to have a child. She proposes that Sherlock Holmes be the father, hoping their offspring will inherit her beauty and his intellect. Holmes extricates himself by claiming that Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely) is his lover, much to the doctor’s embarrassment. At 221B, Watson confronts Holmes about the reality of the ensuing rumors. Holmes only states that Watson is “being presumptuous” by asking him whether he has had relationships with women.
This work is, without a doubt, the underrated gem in the Wilder canon. Both Stephens (his best screen performance) and Blakely do excellent work, while Geneviève Page gives a gorgeous melancholy performance as a German spy secretly in love with Holmes. The Russian Ballet/Tchaikovsky sequence is a classic and represents Wilder at best.
Original screenplay by Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond.

STREAMING: Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+

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