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SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION, THE (director: Herbert Ross; screenwriter: Nicholas Meyer/based on the novel by Nicholas Meyer/based on the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle; cinematographer: Oswald Morris; editor: Chris Barnes; music: John Addison; cast: Alan Arkin (Sigmund Freud), Vanessa Redgrave (Lola Deveraux), Robert Duvall (Dr. Watson), Nicol Williamson (Sherlock Holmes), Laurence Olivier (Prof. Moriarty), Joel Grey (Lowenstein), Samantha Eggar (Mary Watson), Jeremy Kemp (Baron von Leinsdorf), Charles Gray (Mycroft Holmes), Georgia Brown (Mrs. Freud), Alisson Leggatt (Mrs. Hudson, Landlady); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Herbert Ross; Image Entertainment; 1976)
It’s best seen as a colorful period costume drama thatis over 90 % flawed.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

What a mess! It besmirches the Sherlock Holmes name with such a pitiful story (playing fast and loose with the legendary Holmes persona) that tries to lampoon its hero with such a weak satire and the hammy acting by a star-studded cast leaves one more bored in a bemused way than pissed at such crude antics. The title refers to the dosage of cocaine taken by the addicted sleuth–7 % cocaine and 9 % water. It’s based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Meyer, who turned in the far-fetched screenplay. Herbert Ross (“California Suite”/”The Owl and The Pussycat”/”Steel Magnolias”)directs it as a dreamy spoof, which has more misses than hit moments. It’s best seen as a colorful period costume drama thatis over 90 % flawed.

The film dulls out, never finding its footing, after Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall), in 1891, lures Holmes to Vienna to be treated for his cocaine addiction by Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). Holmes also ends up being treated to get over that the meek Professor Moriarity (Laurence Olivier), his childhood tutor and current math professor at a leading London college, is his evil genius nemesis. Holmes has not been seen in public for the last three years, hunkered down in his Baker Street place–the public believes him dead.

On his first meeting with the famous Vienna-based shrink, Holmes impresses Freud with his brilliant power of deduction as he claims to know Freud is Jewish by the menorah on his desk. The good doctor puts his patient under hypnosis to cure his habit, has him go cold turkey and uncovers a childhood trauma that led to his addiction and false beliefs about Moriarity. The sleuth then teams up with Freud to save his patient, the famous actress Lola Deveraux (Vanessa Redgrave), who has been kidnapped, drugged against her will and turns up in a hospital. This results in a silly chase through Europe for the culprits (Joel Grey & Jeremy Kemp), that’s awkwardly orchestrated by Ross.

The film found favor with the public and critics, and opened the door for more spoofs and wild take-offs on the traditional Holmes stories–something I never cared for, though I wouldn’t say I’m a purist. This film was never funny as a spoof and its intentions as a serious tribute never seemed genuine because it was too silly to take anything in this pic seriously. It also never did much for the reps of Holmes or Freud, except reduce them to cartoon characters.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”