There are not many things I like better than a good Sherlock Holmes tale. Back in the day I loved the Basil Rathbone films, loved the Jeremy Brett Holmes, and really loved Murder by Decree. After those I was a big fan of Young Sherlock Holmes and lately I love the BBC series and the Robert Downey Jr. films. Oddly enough, I had never heard of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, a strange Holmes film from 1976 that has now surfaced on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.
John Watson (Robert Duvall) is concerned about his friend Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson). Sherlock’s addiction to cocaine has reached a dangerous level and Watson decides to take him the renowned Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin) for treatment. Watson takes Holmes to Vienna under the false pretense of a kidnapping case and enlists the help of Freud to help Holmes while he tries to solve the case.
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution has to be one of the strangest Holmes movies I have ever seen. It has a quirky sense of humor about it, and the casting is bizarre yet works wonderfully well. Duvall is an excellent Watson and barely sounds like himself with the accent, while Williamson’s wildly neurotic Holmes is a whirlwind of frenetic madness. Arkin makes a very convincing Freud as well, and who would have thunk it. Before watching the film I would have sworn it wouldn’t work but somehow Arkin pulls it off like gangbusters. The film is fairly fast paced; in fact it almost has a comedy feel to the pacing, yet remains a good thriller in the Sherlock Holmes sense. Great performances and one of the most unique takes on the classic character makes The Seven-Per-Cent Solution an unusual but most pleasantly surprising little film.
The Blu-ray from Shout! Factory is a little soft overall, but still a huge step forward from any previous incarnation. Detail is decent and clarity is very good, although the colors don’t quite pop as they often do from older films being transferred to Blu-ray. Age may be the suspect here, but the transfer is still very nice for a film of this age. For Holmes fans in particular, this is a curiosity you should now miss out on.
Available January 29, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.