Monday, February 17, 2014

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
I watched The Seven-Per-Cent Solution on a recommendation from my Dad and am glad I did as I probably wouldn't have seen it otherwise. I have read some of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories but not recently. The only Sherlock Holmes film I have seen besides The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was the 2009 Robert Downey Jr. movie which I wrote about previously on this blog. Unless of course you count The Great Mouse Detective!
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
was kind of a Sherlock Holmes reboot for its time as it is different from both the Doyle stories and previous film adaptations. The story is that Watson (Robert Duvall) tricks Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) into going to Vienna in order to be treated for his cocaine addiction by Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). The addition of a historical figure with Holmes is interesting and two characters complement each other nicely. There is also a different take on Watson from the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce film series as this Watson is physically fit and intelligent. Moriarty (Laurence Olivier) functions differently here though he is just as important to Holmes albeit in a very different way. The acting is great all around with Joel Grey and Vanessa Redgrave rounding out the superb cast.

The cinematography in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is interesting since some parts feel like you are watching a play, while other scenes are very cinematic and have great camera work. There is a nice balance between quieter scenes focusing on characters and creative action scenes or dream sequences. The opening credits are done in the style of a program for a stage drama while the sword fight on top of a train would be tough to replicate in a theater!
The film received two Oscar nominations: one for Best Costume Design and another for Best Adapted Screenplay. The costume and set design do an excellent job of depicting London and Vienna in this era. The movie is well-written as it has a solid mystery with clever twists and turns and a satisfying conclusion that does a good job of wrapping things up. There are some great setups and payoffs such as with the tennis scene.
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Nicolas Meyer who also wrote the screenplay. Meyer directed Time After Time, Star Trek II, and Star Trek VI and also wrote Star Trek IV. Herbert Ross directed The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. I've actually seen two of his movies before (Footloose and The Secret of My Succe$s), both of which I've written about on this blog.
Hardcore Holmes fans might not like the new spin on things such as its new explanation for Holmes' three year absence after his "death" or Holmes' backstory with Moriarty. I didn't have that baggage so it didn't bother me, especially since I'm used to multiple interpretations of characters and stories.
Fun Fact: Stephen Sondheim wrote the song "The Madame's Song (I Never Do Anything Twice)" used in the film.

No comments:

Post a Comment