Wilder, Kahn, DeLuise and Feldman in happier times
Loves: Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn
Likes: Marty Feldman, Sherlock Holmes
Hates: That every star in this film is now gone
To be honest, the case, involving some sort of document that Sherlock's foe Moriarty (Leo McKern, The Prisoner) wants, doesn't mean much at all in the big picture, and barely pays off in the end. It's really just an excuse for Wilder to play with his friends in a variety of pairings. With his Young Frankenstein co-stars Marty Feldman and Madeline Kahn, he gets to be something of the straight-man to their silliness, as Feldman plays a human dictaphone and Kahn is a pathological liar, and both are fun to watch in their parts. Feldman plays his usual oddball type, mixing in some physical comedy with the character-based material, while Kahn, playing a role not unlike her Blazing Saddles character, gets some of the best moments in the film, including a hilarious response to Feldman's nuttiness and a single profanity that draws laughter every time, without fail. Besides having impeccable timing, she had a tremendous singing voice (there are several musical numbers) and was a stunning beauty to boot, making her one of the all-time greats, so any chance to watch her at work is welcome.
Though there are some very funny moments in the movie, overall, they are too spaced out to carry the film through the valleys. Big set pieces, like a horse-and-buggy chase and a major sword fight, go on far too long, and some of the musical numbers don't add to either the comedy or the plot (no matter how charming "The Kangaroo Hop" may be when performed by Wilder, Feldman and Kahn.) Other moments feel too below the talent involved to really get laughs, like a gross gag involving candy or a backside-revealing scene that's just dumb, and would be aggravating if not for the goodwill Wilder and Feldman bring to the picture. The best way to tell if this movie is any good is to imagine it without its leads, and the reality is, it would have never been made without them.
This entry in the Kino Lorber Studio Classics line arrives in a standard Blu-ray keepcase on a single Blu-ray disc with a static menu featuring options to watch the film, select scenes and check out the extras. There are no audio options and no subtitles.
The audio seems to be the original mono sound presented in a duped DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track, and there are no concerns in this regard, as everything sounds clear and crisp, with good separation between the dialogue and the strong musical score. Straightforward and center-balanced, there's solid depth to the delivery, making for a good listen.
Also included are trailers for two of Wilder's directorial efforts: Haunted Honeymoon (2:19) and The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (2:53). Both promos are plodding affairs that don't do a particularly good job of making one want to watch the films.
The first film directed by Wilder, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother isn't as enjoyable or funny as his classic films, but there are definitely hilarious moments to be found, and the fantastic cast seems to be going for it in its various pairings. The presentation is solid, but certainly flawed, and the extras are limited, highlighted by a demure commentary by Wilder. Wider fans will definitely want to check this one out, but it's not likely to be a favorite.