Peter’s Retro Reviews: The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)

May 5, 2014

Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother posterby Peter Nielsen

Orville S. Sacker: Are you Mister S., for Sigerson, Holmes?

Sigerson Holmes: Perhaps!

Orville: Do you have a brother whose first name is Sherlock?

Sigerson: I do not!

Orville: You do have a brother?

Sigerson: I do.

Orville: Might I inquire as to his first name?

Sigerson: “Sheer Luck”!”

The document!

The document!

Sigerson Holmes is the bumbling, younger and unknown brother of Sherlock, the famous fictional detective, and he does not like his older brother much. This movie is kind of a fictional story inside a fictional story, because Sigerson doesn’t appear in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books about Sherlock Holmes. He is instead the brainchild of writer and director Gene Wilder (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak) who also plays the part of Sigerson in the movie. He is very jealous of his brother, as is evident from the above quote.

The lovely Madeline Kahn as Jenny Hill

The lovely Madeline Kahn as Jenny Hill

The movie starts with Queen Victoria handing the Foreign Secretary, Lord Redcliff, a document of utmost importance for England’s future. Unfortunately the document is stolen from his safe later that evening. Sherlock Holmes is unable to take the case because he’s very much in the public’s eye and his every move is watched by the criminals. So as to be able to investigate unhindered and in secrecy, he makes sure the case falls into the hands of his younger brother so he’ll be in the spotlight instead of Sherlock. Unbeknownst to Sigerson, of course!

The one bringing the case to his doorstep is a records clerk from Scotland Yard, Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker, played by the brilliant Marty Feldman. I don’t think he needs much of an introduction, but here are a handful of movies he’s appeared in, just in case you don’t know… Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie and Yellowbeard. Sigerson refuses to take the case at first, but a little bribe goes a long way. Well, that and also stroking his ego the right way.

Orville and Sigerson in a revealing situation!

Orville and Sigerson in a revealing situation!

We learn from the start that the document was stolen by a singer/actress by the name of Jenny Hill. She is being blackmailed by a man named Gambetti, who threatened to show certain compromising love letters to her boyfriend if she didn’t do as he wished. The letters were written to another man and are apparently very graphic, and because Jenny had no idea that the document was so important she stole it and gave it to the blackmailer. She quickly realizes her mistake and now wants Sigerson’s help to retrieve it. Unfortunately she has problems trusting people unless she either falls in love or is sexually aroused, which is a bit of a problem, I suppose. It is, however, cause for some very funny scenes in the movie.

Jenny is played by a wonderful actress named Madeline Kahn, whom you might recognize from movies like Clue, High Anxiety and Blazing Saddles. She’s beautiful and funny and I’ve loved her in every movie I’ve ever seen her in. She has a charm that is almost impossible to resist… so I’ve stopped! Resisting, that is!

In the role of the blackmailer, Eduardo Gambetti, we see the always funny Dom DeLuise from The Cannonball Run, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Smokey and the Bandit II and The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas to name a handful from his long list of credits.

Dom DeLuise and Leo McKern in a hilarious scene.

Dom DeLuise and Leo McKern in a hilarious scene.

Sherlock Holmes’ arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, also appear in this movie! He wants to sell the stolen document to foreign agents and meets with Gambetti to obtain it from him. Moriarty is played by Leo McKern from the TV series Rumpole of the Bailey, but also movies like Ladyhawke and Ryan’s Daughter. He’s absolutely fantastic in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother and that first scene between him and Dom DeLuise is hilarious!

Another ridiculously funny scene takes place on top of a moving horse-drawn carriage and is a fight scene between Sigerson and Moriarty’s assistant, played by Roy Kinnear (Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, The Hill).

The whole movie is actually funny as hell and is filled with slap-stick humor, funny dialogue and has some great musical numbers too. It has an almost “Mel Brooks-ian” feel to it, you know, which kind of makes sense, because a bunch of people from the cast has worked together with Mr. Brooks on numerous movies. But this particular movie was Gene Wilder’s directorial debut.

It helps to have some knowledge about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories to really enjoy the small nods to them, but not necessary. Knowing about Professor Moriarty and the fact that he’s a ruthless criminal mastermind makes Leo McKern’s portrayal of him even more hilarious, though. He plays him completely against how he is written in the original stories, but still with a ruthless streak to him.

I don’t know why The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother has kind of fallen of the board, because it’s a great comedy with an awesome cast. I’ve seen it many times and actually watched it twice this past week, and even though it had been several years since I last watched it, I still remembered most of it, and it STILL made me laugh out loud on both viewings.

Let me conclude with saying that, if you for some reason haven’t seen this gem before, it’s definitely time that you do! If you HAVE seen it… don’t you think it’s time for a re-watch? Yes, OF COURSE it is!

So, my friends… that’s it for me this week! As always, if you have any thoughts on this week’s movie-choice, please let me know in the comment section below!

Until next time…

Retro Movie Geek © 2015