• Seven-Per-Cent Solution , The



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: January 22, 2013.
    Director: Herbert Ross
    Cast: Nicol Williamson, Robert Duvall, Charles Grey, Alan Arkin, Vanessa Redgrave, Laurence Olivier
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    Previously released by way of Universal’s Vault program (their burn on demand service), Herbert Ross’ 1976 take on Sherlock Holmes, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, now arrives on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack courtesy of Shout! Factory.

    Written by Nicholas Meyer and based off of his own novel of the same name, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution shows us what happens to Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) after his problems with cocaine addiction have taken their toll on him. Holmes right hand man and best friend, Dr. Watson (Robert Duvall), and his brother, Mycroft Holmes (Charles Gray), grow understandably concerned and collectively decide that he needs some professional help. As such, they travel to Vienna where they meet with Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin), the famed psychiatrist who uses hypnosis to cure the world’s greatest detective of his chief vice.

    With that out of the way, Freud discusses with Holmes a situation one of his patients, a beautiful actress named Lola Deveraux (Vanessa Redgrave), the victim of a kidnapping plot, recently returned. Holmes is on the chase and before you know it, used his incredible powers of deduction to chase down his first lead, a former lover of Lola’s, Baron Karl von Leinsdorf (Jeremy Kemp). Soon enough, however, Lola is kidnapped again as Holmes and Watson chase von Leinsdorf across Vienna – all while Holmes wrestles with the specter of Professor James Moriarty (Laurence Olivier)…

    Well acted and fairly slick in terms of its sense of composition, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (the title a reference to Holmes’ preferred cocaine cocktail) is a movie made up of two unusually distinct parts. The first, where Holmes’ addition is put front and center and his involvement with Freud comes into play, is clever, creative and interesting. Once the chase is on, however, the movie falls into some fairly predictable trappings. Not that it’s bad, because it’s actually quite good, but it does tend to play towards cliché once we pass the middle part of the movie. Credit where credit is due, however – the big action set piece, the duel atop a moving train, is pretty exciting and a lot of fun to watch.

    If this isn’t Holmes at his most ‘pure’ the cast all do a fine job here. Williamson is solid in the lead while Duvall makes for a great Watson. Charles Gray, hot on the heels of his work in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is enjoyable as Mycroft while Olivier steals the show as Moriarty. Throw in the lovely Ms. Redgrave and you’ve got a seriously star studded cast who all bring their best to the picture. Nobody sleepwalks through and on the flip side, nobody feels the need to chew the scenery either: the acting here is well balanced and suitable for the characters in question.

    Though there are a few pacing issues here and there in the middle stretch and a couple of attempts at humor that fall a little flat, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is otherwise a pretty entertaining mix of adventure and mystery done in a very playful manner. In short, it’s a whole lot of fun at the movies and, as such, worth checking out even if it isn’t the world’s most serious take on the Holmes mythos.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Seven-Per-Cent Solution looks very nice on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. This is a pretty nice transfer with a good amount of natural looking film grain present, despite a few scenes that look to have been digitally touched up. Detail isn’t reference quality but it does seem like a pretty accurate representation of the source material while color reproduction feels very natural here. There are no issues with heavy noise reduction or edge enhancement and compression artifacts only pop up in a couple of spots and when they do they’re thankfully easy to miss. Though there are some scenes that lean towards softness, that can be added up to the way that the movie was shot. Some shimmering and haloing can be spotted here and there but overall, picture quality is pretty good here.

    The only audio option offered is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track, with optional subtitles provided for the feature in English only. As to how it stands up, dialogue is clean and clear and levels are consistently well balanced. There are no problems with hiss or distortion worth noting and the score sounds good. There are a few more action intensive scenes in the movie that let the lossless track shine a bit, but overall this is a fairly dialogue heavy movie – with that said, there’s nothing to complain about here, the audio does a fine job of replicating the movie’s original sound design.

    There’s really only one extra to discuss here, and that’s a nineteen minute long interview with scriptwriter Nicholas Meyer entitled When Sherlock Met Sigmund. Thankfully it’s a fairly in depth talk, as Meyer discusses bringing this story to the screen, crafting the characters in the way we finally see them take form in the movie, a few key set pieces and a bit more. He comes across as interesting and amiable – if you dug the feature, check this out. Aside from that, we get static menus and chapter selection, though as this is a combo pack release, a standard DVD version of the movie containing identical extras is also include inside the Blu-ray case.

    The Final Word:

    While hardly the ‘be all, end all’ of Sherlock Holmes movies, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a decent movie despite some pacing issues. The cast are game, the movie has some nice style and a good bit of humor though not all of the comedic elements always work perfectly. Overall though, there’s a fair bit of entertainment value to be had with the film and if Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack release is light on extras, it does look and sound quite good.

    click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!