The renowned detective’s insanely jealous younger sibling, Sigerson Holmes (Gene Wilder), becomes involved with foreign spies, Professor Moriarty (Leo McKern) and Jenny – a music hall starlet who is a compulsive liar (Madeline Kahn).
Jenny is being blackmailed and the rascally opera singer Gambetti (Dom DeLuise) is at the centre of the mystery.
Sigi sets about putting things to right in his own unconventional way, knowing that brother Sherlock (Douglas Wilmer) – he calls him ‘Sheer-luck’ – will step in and steal the credit. Sigi is aided and abetted by Orville (Marty Feldman), a former policeman with a photographic memory.
This spoof about the famous fictional sleuth was Gene Wilder’s first film as writer, director and star. It’s evident that Wilder apprenticed at the Mel Brooks school of comedy.
This film isn’t the clever, zany romp you might expect from a member of the Brooks family though. It is adolescent foolishness with only a smattering of true comic situations. The gags run the gamut from insultingly stupid to numbingly stupid: Feldman and Wilder dancing at a formal ball with their rear ends exposed; Feldman, Kahn, and Wilder doing a cringe-inducing dance number called “The Kangaroo Hop” (twice); Wilder and British comedy stalwart Roy Kinnear fighting with an oversized glove and an oversized shoe for weapons . . .
In a Victorian London that’s a set designer’s over-cluttered dream, the best humour – the members of a drugged operatic chorus collapsing one after the other – is very funny indeed, but, apart from that, the whimsy can be rather tiresome.
John Le Mesurier and Roy Kinnear are also on board for this slapstick workout, which is merely elementary.
Sigerson “Sigi” Holmes
John Le Mesurier