The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)

PG | 93 mins | Comedy, Mystery | 1975

Director:

Gene Wilder

Writer:

Gene Wilder

Producer:

Richard A. Roth

Cinematographer:

Gerry Fisher

Editor:

Jim Clark

Production Designer:

Terence Marsh
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HISTORY

According to LAT on 29 Jun 1975, producer Richard A. Roth approached Gene Wilder with the idea of making a comedy about Sherlock Holmes in Oct 1973. Although Wilder said that he had already been developing the concept for a year, he was unconvinced that he could parody a revered character for the length of a feature film. A week later, Wilder proposed a comedy about Sherlock Holmes’ “insanely jealous brother Sigi.”
       Although there is no literary source credited in the film, HR , on 22 Apr 1975, stated that Wilder’s script was based on the 1899 play Sherlock Holmes , which was adapted from the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by actor William Gillette. As reported in DV on 28 Apr 1975, Wilder was unable to use content from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series of novels. Even though they were considered public domain in the United States, they were still restricted by copyright protection in Europe. In Conan Doyle’s cannon, Sherlock Holmes’ only sibling is his older brother Mycroft. The character “Sigerson Holmes” was Wilder’s invention.
       As reported in DV , the film marked Wilder’s directorial debut of a theatrically released feature film. An HR news item on 6 Feb 1975 stated that The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother would be the first movie Wilder would direct in a three-picture contract with Twentieth Century-Fox. The movie reunited Wilder, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman from the successful film Young Frankenstein (1974, see entry), directed by Mel Brooks.
       According to ... More Less

According to LAT on 29 Jun 1975, producer Richard A. Roth approached Gene Wilder with the idea of making a comedy about Sherlock Holmes in Oct 1973. Although Wilder said that he had already been developing the concept for a year, he was unconvinced that he could parody a revered character for the length of a feature film. A week later, Wilder proposed a comedy about Sherlock Holmes’ “insanely jealous brother Sigi.”
       Although there is no literary source credited in the film, HR , on 22 Apr 1975, stated that Wilder’s script was based on the 1899 play Sherlock Holmes , which was adapted from the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by actor William Gillette. As reported in DV on 28 Apr 1975, Wilder was unable to use content from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series of novels. Even though they were considered public domain in the United States, they were still restricted by copyright protection in Europe. In Conan Doyle’s cannon, Sherlock Holmes’ only sibling is his older brother Mycroft. The character “Sigerson Holmes” was Wilder’s invention.
       As reported in DV , the film marked Wilder’s directorial debut of a theatrically released feature film. An HR news item on 6 Feb 1975 stated that The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother would be the first movie Wilder would direct in a three-picture contract with Twentieth Century-Fox. The movie reunited Wilder, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman from the successful film Young Frankenstein (1974, see entry), directed by Mel Brooks.
       According to DV on 21 Apr 1975, production began that day at Shepperton Studios in London, England, and the film had a shooting schedule of three months. DV , on 28 Apr 1975, reported that the budget was set at $3 million.



The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Tanya Goldman.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1975.
---
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1975
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1975
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 1975
p. 3.
LAHExam
14 Aug 1975.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1975
p. 38.
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1975
Calendar, p. 54.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Dec 1975
p. 54.
New York Times
15 Dec 1975
p. 42.
New Yorker
22 Dec 1975
pp. 70-71.
Newsweek
22 Dec 1975
p. 50.
Time
22 Dec 1975
p. 72.
Variety
3 Dec 1975
p. 22.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Richard A. Roth-Jouer Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Chief elec
Stillsman
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Const mgr
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus rec at
England
Re-rec at
London
SOUND
Dubbing ed
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Chief make-up
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Fight arranger and adv
Casting
Asst to Mr. Wilder
Continuity
DETAILS
Release Date:
1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 14 December 1975
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
19 December 1975
Copyright Number:
LP45458
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Rank Film Laboratories
Lenses/Prints
Prints by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
93
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24397
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1891 London, a secret document is stolen from British foreign secretary Lord Redcliff’s safe and Queen Victoria hires Sherlock Holmes to investigate. Aware that he is being watched, Sherlock tells his partner, Dr. Watson, that the Redcliff document may instigate a war unless it is recovered by Thursday evening. Sherlock announces that he will leave town and entrust the case to his less successful and jealous younger brother, detective Sigerson Holmes. At the train station, Sherlock and Watson deceive their pursuer, Bruner, by paying two old ladies to switch clothes with them. As they return to town disguised as women, Sherlock tells Watson that the Redcliff case is actually about a young lady who must learn to fall in love. Sherlock bribes Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker of Scotland Yard to deliver an urgent request to Sigerson. At Sigerson’s flat, Orville explains that Sherlock needs his estranged brother to take over the case while he convalesces in the country. Sigerson becomes interested when he learns that the case involves Bessie Bellwood. A young woman claiming to be Bessie Bellwood arrives at Sigerson’s flat, but he accuses her of fraud because the music hall singer has been dead for many years. The woman confesses that her name is Jenny Hill. She asks Sigerson to recover a love letter that her blackmailer, Eduardo Gambetti, threatens to reveal to her fiancé. As Sigerson attempts to cheer Jenny by initiating the “Kangaroo Hop” dance, Bruner watches from the street below. When he reports the events to Professor Moriarty, the crime boss sacrifices Bruner to a lion. Some time later, Sigerson ... +


In 1891 London, a secret document is stolen from British foreign secretary Lord Redcliff’s safe and Queen Victoria hires Sherlock Holmes to investigate. Aware that he is being watched, Sherlock tells his partner, Dr. Watson, that the Redcliff document may instigate a war unless it is recovered by Thursday evening. Sherlock announces that he will leave town and entrust the case to his less successful and jealous younger brother, detective Sigerson Holmes. At the train station, Sherlock and Watson deceive their pursuer, Bruner, by paying two old ladies to switch clothes with them. As they return to town disguised as women, Sherlock tells Watson that the Redcliff case is actually about a young lady who must learn to fall in love. Sherlock bribes Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker of Scotland Yard to deliver an urgent request to Sigerson. At Sigerson’s flat, Orville explains that Sherlock needs his estranged brother to take over the case while he convalesces in the country. Sigerson becomes interested when he learns that the case involves Bessie Bellwood. A young woman claiming to be Bessie Bellwood arrives at Sigerson’s flat, but he accuses her of fraud because the music hall singer has been dead for many years. The woman confesses that her name is Jenny Hill. She asks Sigerson to recover a love letter that her blackmailer, Eduardo Gambetti, threatens to reveal to her fiancé. As Sigerson attempts to cheer Jenny by initiating the “Kangaroo Hop” dance, Bruner watches from the street below. When he reports the events to Professor Moriarty, the crime boss sacrifices Bruner to a lion. Some time later, Sigerson and Orville watch Jenny perform at a music hall while Moriarty’s henchmen attempt to kill her by staging an accident. As a scenery counterweight sandbag above the stage leaks its contents, Sherlock, disguised as a priest, throws the sand over his shoulder to alert his brother. Sigerson sings a warning to Jenny from the audience and motions for her to move out of the way as the scenery crashes to the stage, barely missing her. After the show, Sigerson and Orville escort Jenny home in their carriage. She confesses to stealing a document from her father’s safe to exchange with Gambetti for the love letter, but refuses to reveal her father’s identity. Just then, two carriages surround their coach. Sigerson fights off the aggressors and returns Jenny home safely. As she bids Sigerson and Orville farewell, Jenny admits that she has made a terrible mistake and fears that she will be killed. When their carriage pulls away, Jenny sneaks to another residence while Moriarty, his associate and Sigerson all watch from afar. In the next day’s newspaper, Orville reads about the events at the music hall and Sigerson finds that, once again, his heroics have been misattributed to Sherlock. A coded telegram arrives from Jenny requesting Sigerson’s presence at her dressing room. When he arrives, Jenny seduces him and reveals her father is Redcliff. Meanwhile, Moriarty and his cronies discuss their plans to auction Redcliff’s document to the highest foreign bidder. When Sigerson reports to Redcliff about the case, he learns that Jenny is not his daughter and he sees them kiss passionately. Jenny confesses that Redcliff is her fiancé and she is his daughter’s governess. She explains that Redcliff will be forced to resign if she fails to recover the document. Although Sigerson is unmoved by her deception, he asks where Gambetti lives. Jenny says that she has been rehearsing for an opera at Gambetti’s home and gives Sigerson a floor plan of the estate. That night, Sigerson and Orville sneak into Gambetti’s manor and attempt to crack the safe. When Moriarty arrives with his payment, they hide behind the curtains. As Gambetti puts the money in his safe, he tells Moriarty that he will deliver the document during the performance of his opera because he fears that in private, Moriarty’s henchmen will kill him to repossess the cash. Moriarty protests, but Gambetti assures him that when a messenger steps onstage and sings the cue “why don’t we all drink some very sexy wine” during the opera, he will hand over the document. Sigerson and Orville accidentally break the room’s windows and Gambetti and Moriarty lock them in a narrow room. As an enormous electric blade carves through the space, Sigerson and Orville survive by sucking in their stomachs. On the opening night of the opera, Sigerson, Orville, and Moriarty’s accomplices disguise themselves as performers. Backstage, multiple scrolls of paper replicating the stolen document are lined up on a table and Gambetti takes one before he begins the performance. Soon after the opera starts, Sigerson sings the cue for Gambetti to hand over the document, but the verse is soon repeated by Moriarty’s messenger and Gambetti becomes confused. Meanwhile, Orville drops sleeping pills into the actors’ wine. As the cast falls asleep onstage, Orville notices another member of Moriarty’s team aiming a gun at Sigerson. The shot misses as Sherlock appears and points a gun at the sniper’s head. Unable to discern between the two messengers, Gambetti throws the document into the air and as the men wrestle, the crowd erupts into laughter. Sigerson seizes the scroll, but on his way off stage, he is held at gunpoint by another henchman. Sigerson flees to the attic prop room and sword fights with Moriaty while Orville fends of Moriarty’s messenger. On a rooftop ledge above a moat, Moriarty distracts Sigerson by pointing out that he is being used by Sherlock and Sigerson is wounded in the chest. When Sigerson loses his sword, he gives Moriarty the document, but both men reveal they are holding multiple replicas of the scroll and throw them into the water below. Without a sword for protection, Sigerson hands over the last document. Just then, however, the clock tower strikes, shaking the building, and Moriarty tumbles off the ledge. Although he is rescued from the moat, Moriarty unravels the scroll to realize that he has been tricked by another fake. Back in the prop room, Sigerson and Orville leave the real Redcliff document on a table, knowing that Sherlock is watching and will return it to Queen. When Watson asks Sherlock how he intends to repay his brother, Sherlock says that he will play the violin. Some time later, Sigerson responds to an urgent telegram from Jenny. In the moments before her wedding ceremony, Jenny claims that she only wanted to say goodbye. As she leaves him, however, Sherlock and Watson, disguised as street musicians, play a romantic duet on violin and harp that compels Jenny to return. Sigerson and Jenny’s celebratory “Kangaroo Hop” evolves into an intimate embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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