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HOME MOVIES

By KAREN MARTIN SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published January 18, 2013 at 1:46 a.m.

herbert-ross-the-seven-per-cent-solution

Herbert Ross The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

— Herbert Ross The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) (PG, 113 minutes)

Melodramatic, hilarious, stagy and beautifully photographed, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution introduces renowned British sleuth Sherlock Holmes to another celebrity of his Victorian era: the father of psychoanalysis.

The entertaining story, based on a novel by Nicholas Meyer and set in 1891, brings renowned British sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) to Vienna for an encounter with Dr. Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin, with a handsome head of dark hair and a full beard), who is contacted by faithful Holmes sidekick Watson (Robert Duvall) in an effort to help cure Holmes of a nasty cocaine addiction and a weird obsession with his former mathematics teacher Professor Moriarty (Laurence Olivier).

Although the 1976 film is mainly concerned with Freud’s innovative efforts to wean Holmes off cocaine use (to which the film title refers), it wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes movie without a mystery to solve (and a deerstalker cap).

So, in between some fairly unsettling scenes of Holmes suffering from withdrawal pangs (including very 1970s-style hallucinations), that mystery arrives in the form of Lola Devereaux (gorgeous Vanessa Redgrave), a fellow cocaine addict who keeps getting abducted by shady characters.

Along the way you’ll meet a scheming baron, a ridiculously wealthy pasha, a stealthy henchman, a herd of murderous Lipizzaner stallions, kindly Frau Freud and a bloodhound named Toby. And you’ll hear some uproariously overwrought accents, especially from Duvall, sounding quite different from his Texas ranger Gus McCrae in the 1989 mini-series Lonesome Dove.

The Blu-ray release, from a print that was in excellent condition accompanied by a sparkling Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix, includes “When Sherlock Met Sigmund,” a new interview with writer Meyer (who would go on to direct a couple of Star Trek films, including The Wrath of Khan).

OTHER RECENT RELEASES:

To Rome With Love (R, 112 minutes) Woody Allen directs Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and himself in a magical-realism romantic comedy about Americans and Italians getting into complicated relationships and predicaments. There are four vignettes: a clerk who wakes up to find himself a celebrity, an architect who takes a trip back to the street he lived on as a student, a young couple on their honeymoon and a funeral director who has a talent for singing in the shower. “Page gives a restrained but brilliantly satirical performance as an intellectual and emotional faker,” says film critic David Denby in The New Yorker. “She’s one of the greatest of Allen’s female creations.”

Won’t Back Down (PG, 121 minutes) This drama, which didn’t impress reviewers, stars the usually mesmerizing Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis as a pair of determined mothers who are dedicated to an effort to improve their children’s failing inner-city school. “Won’t Back Down avoids the most controversial aspect of the current situation - whether teachers should be held directly accountable if student standardized test scores are weak - but it has no hesitation about creating a villain for all seasons: teachers unions,” says critic Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. “Though the film’s pernicious propagandistic bias is irritating and misleading, it can’t be overemphasized that what is really wrong with this film is how feeble it is dramatically.”

Wild River (not rated, 110 minutes) This excellent 1960 drama, directed by Elia Kazan (East of Eden, On the Waterfront) starring Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick and Jo Van Fleet, concerns a young field administrator for the Tennessee Valley Authority who is overseeing the building of a dam on the Tennessee River, a project that is opposed by the rural locals. “Sympathetic to both sides, the movie pits tradition against progress, rugged individualism against the greater good,” says critic J. Hoberman in the Village Voice.

Karen Martin is a Little Rock based writer and critic. E-mail her at karenmartin18@gmail.com

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 01/18/2013

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