The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother has everything that Young Frankenstein had except Mel Brooks (although he does make a very brief vocal cameo). With the combined comedic genius of Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman, how could this film go wrong? Like Young Frankenstein, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes offers a rich classical mythology to mine for material. A wonderful supporting cast featuring the likes of Dom Deluise can’t miss, right? No so elementary, my dear Watson. Focus. …hat’s the rub. I’m not referring to the work of the cameramen here. Gene Wilder appeared so sure of his own brilliance that he forgot to bring the story.
The game’s afoot, and it smells like it, too. Never before has so much talent been squandered on so little substance. I understand this is a farce, and I’m fully prepared for the absurd. I’m just not prepared to go nowhere. I was extremely disappointed at every turn. Toilet humor replaces wit. There are also no straight men. What’s Costello without Abbott? Everyone is so into trying to be funny no one offers to be the foil. Simply uninspired. The entire film makes one feel they are witness to one large in joke and we’re on the outside of the punch line. The musical numbers make the film all that much more intolerable.
You get a choice here. The disc is a double-sided affair. Side A is a pan and scan version which I did not view. Side B contains the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture is a bit grainy in spots but otherwise an average transfer. Colors neither stand out nor impress, but the picture does have reasonably sharp definition. Black levels are a little grey for my tastes. There are a fair number of print defects throughout. There are also a couple of instances where the contrast shifts inexplicably.
An adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 track drives this mostly mild sound track. The songs are clean with no distortion, but also no dynamics in the range. Most of the sound falls safely in the mid ranges. Dialogue is clear but tends to have a drone quality. Again, there is no range stretch here. Too much mids sound for me. It literally makes you tired. There is an unenergetic audio commentary by Gene Wilder. He doesn’t sound at all excited about the picture. There are uncomfortable moments of dead air. He even stops in mid sentence at times. Sorry if we were keeping you awake, Gene. Most of the track is spent in short handfuls of words and phrases like “He climbs the ladder…… On the top….. There he is….”
Just the commentary, but trust me, there’s nothing special about that.
To be honest, I expected much more out of this film. It obviously had a short box office life, and I did not see it during its initial run. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out why. All of the elements for a hootin’ good time are present, but no one pulls the trigger. I suggest you leave this film to the obscurity to which it was originally sentenced. There’s nothing entertaining in watching greats sink to mediocrity. “It’s simultaneously funny and sad.”
Special Features List
- Commentary by Gene Wilder