Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution: 100% Fun

This post is dedicated to Eric Little: Blogger, teacher, inspiration. Rest well, Eric.

This week, the beloved and I finally got to watch the film version of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), adapted from the book of the same name, reviewed here in Thinkulous.

I enjoyed the book very much, and the film did not disappoint. There were a few moments in which I inwardly winced because the script (written by Nicholas Meyer, who also wrote the novel) deviated quite a bit from the book. But these were minor plot points. Generally, he managed to be both faithful and successful, keeping the pace swift and entertaining.

Fine acting from Alan Arkin, as the 30-something Sigmund Freud in the period just before his breakthrough work in psychology and the unconscious. Arkin was just as natural and appealing as could be. Nicol Williamson was electrifying as a strung-out Holmes, throwing himself into the role. Perhaps just a titch over the top here and there, but generally, it only added to the general zest of the movie.

When I first read of the movie, I was stunned at the choice of Robert Duvall for Watson. He's a very fine actor, but, like most big-name American actors of his generation, most adept at playing himself, regardless of the role. I expected him to be the weak point in this film, and he was -- but not by far. He did a very serviceable job, and did not get in the way of people obviously more suited to their characters. He nicely embodied Watson's Victorian, bougoie restraint and propriety, as well as his unbridled affection for his notorious friend. His English accent was noticeably labored, but more than acceptable. In the end, I enjoyed his performance, though I can imagine two or three Brits who would have served the role quite a bit more admirably.

Kudos also to Lynn Redgrave, who plays the French victim of the fiendish plot Holmes and Freud manage to foil (I trust I'm not spoiling anything by sharing that little piece of info). Finally, Joel Grey made a wonderfully craven lackey for the Baron von Leimsdorf -- a respectable turn by Jeremy Kemp.

Good luck finding it -- the beloved is a librarian and was able to requisition a distant VHS copy. From what I hear, there has been no DVD release (this is criminal). But it is worth the search.

Thanks to Eric for his encouragement to seek out this film. He was a Williamson fan.

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