"Why don't we all drink some very sexy wine?"Gene Wilder
's 1975 directorial debut. Many fans will recall that Sherlock Holmes
did in-fact have an older brother, Mycroft, who was by all accounts indeed smarter than Sherlock, yet too lazy
to accomplish what Sherlock had. This film follows his younger
brother Sigerson's Day in the Limelight
Jenny Hill (Madeline Kahn), an opera singer and bride-to-be of the new Minister of Defense, is blackmailed into stealing the "Redcliff Document"
, which details Great Britain's defense plans. The blackmailer (Dom De Luise
) intends to sell the document to Professor Moriarty (Leo McKern), who in-turn plans on selling the document to the highest bidder. Since Holmes & Watson are on holiday, Sgt. Orville Sacker (Marty Feldman) of Scotland Yard seeks out the services of Sherlock's younger brother, Sigerson, also a detective. Sigerson (Wilder) is insanely jealous of his older brother's success, and yearns for the day to prove his own self-proclaimed superior intellect.
The rest of the movie runs mostly on Rule of Funny
This film includes examples of the following tropes:
- All Part of the Show: Sigerson, Sacker and Moriarty's assistant during the opera.
- Ambiguously Gay: Gambetti
- Armor-Piercing Question: Sigerson uses the "repeatedly ask a question" version on Jenny Hill twice.
- Auction of Evil: Moriarty's mini-auction between Russia and France for the Redcliff Document.
- Big Damn Heroes: Subverted. Sherlock helps Sigerson save Jenny Hill from an assassin at the last minute, but stays in the shadows in order to let his brother win one all on his own.
- Bluff the Eavesdropper: Sherlock and Watson are in a room when Holmes silently informs Watson that there's someone listening at the keyhole. They then have a conversation intended to fool the eavesdropper that they're leaving the country.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted when Moriarty confronts Sigerson.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall. In The Cameo below, Albert Finney turns and talks to the audience, wondering of the opera was really "rotten, or just wonderfully brave".
- Brick Joke: "The Kangaroo Hop".
- The Cameo: Albert Finney as an opera patron who criticizes Gambetti's performance.
- Mel Brooks dubs the voice of the henchman who's fed to a tiger.
- The Cast Showoff/Irony as She Is Cast: The former is Madeline Kahn, and the latter is Dom DeLuise, both singing opera.
- One can argue Wilder is also a Cast Showoff as he was an accomplished college fencer.
- Chekhov's Skill: Sigerson is practicing fencing when we first meet him.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gambetti.
- Confessional: Parodied by Moriarty's coin operated robot version.
- Counting Bullets: Happens when Moriarty is about to shoot him with a Webley's #2.
- Curtain Camouflage
- Fan Disservice: After escaping Gambetti's Death Trap, both Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman are left bare-assed.
- Flynning: The sword fight between Sigerson Holmes and Professor Moriarty.
- Freudian Excuse: Sorta... Moriarty claims he has a hereditary condition that causes him to do something "absolutely rotten" every 24 minutes.
- Genre Savvy: Gambetti doesn't hand the Redcliff Document over to Moriarty right away, because he knows that once he does, Moriarty will decide that he has outlived his usefulness, and send some goons over to beat him, and take his money back. As he is saying this, Moriarty is preparing to smash a vase over his head.
- Groin Attack: Multiple examples.
- Ho Yay
- Instant Sedation: The pills Sacker puts in the wine during the opera scene.
- Large Ham: Everyone indulges in it, but Moriarty is the largest of them all.
- Mad Mathematician: Moriarty is supposedly a professor of mathematics... yet he doesn't seem to be able to perform long division with decimals.
- 2+2=4 is the only correct math problem on a board behind him in one scene. The rest are either incorrect or have a question mark under the answer.
- Ms. Fanservice: A lot of characters spend a lot of time either groping Madeline Kahn's boobs, or talking about groping her boobs.
- Including Wilder writing and directing himself in the longest one of all.
- The Napoleon: A strange inversion. Moriarty is a good six feet tall, yet still stands on an elevated platform to make himself appear taller than his henchmen (other than just having them crouch down when he talks to them).
- Non Sequitur Thud: After a Groin Attack with a giant shoe — "Oh taxi!" [thud]
- Also counts as a Visual Pun since he's quite literally given the boot.
- Noodle Incident: The Case of the Three Testicles.
- Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: Sigerson Holmes and Jenny Hill go for an outing in a rowboat. Since this is a comedy, Sergeant Sacker comes along as the rower and his accidental mistakes with the oars repeatedly cause Sigerson to be splashed in the face with water.
- Photographic Memory: Sgt. Sacker has phonographic memory — he can exactly repeat anything he has ever heard. At one point he begins to skip like a record.
- Pretty in Mink: Jenny wears a white fox muff on the rowboat date.
- Pushed in Front of the Audience: The "getting on stage is the only way for them to get close to a MacGuffin" version occurs. Sigerson Holmes and his Sidekick Sergeant Sacker go onstage as actors during an opera to recover the Redcliff Document.
- Right-Hand Cat: Moriarty has a cluster of small snakes.
- Sherlock Scan: Parodied. Sigerson twice makes a deduction about who is about to walk through his door based on the sound of their footsteps on the stairs outside the door. He's completely wrong, and someone else entirely walks in.
- The scene where Moriarty tricked his henchman Bruno to his death was a reference to Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady or the Tiger?"
- Moriarty's being forced to do something evil every 24 minutes was a tribute to Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, which had a man cursed to perform an evil act every day or die.
- The Show Must Go On: Sigerson Holmes and Professor Moriarty (and their minions) engage in a secret contest behind the scenes of an opera performance to get some important papers. Their shenanigans include dropping sleeping pills into the cups the actors are drinking from, firing guns and breaking into song: the actors try desperately to keep the opera going despite the interruptions.
- Shown Their Work: The songs Jenny sings are actual music hall songs.
- The movie itself is absolutely packed with subtle gags only dedicated Sherlockians would get.
- "Sigerson" is an alias Sherlock Holmes uses when he's presumed dead after "The Final Problem" but before his return in "The Empty House".
- Small Name, Big Ego: Sigerson isn't quite the genius he proclaims himself to be.
- Sword Cane: Sigerson uses one while fighting the mooks during the carriage battle.
- Stylistic Suck: Gambetti's English translations of Italian operas.
- Vocal Dissonance: A running gag has what sounds like a woman knocking on the door to Sigerson's office and calling him, and when he tells "her" to come in, it turns out to be his manservant Hunkston.
- Whip It Good: When Moriarty's henchman fight Sigerson atop the carriages.
- You Have Failed Me: Moriarty feeds one of his Mooks to a tiger for failing to tail Holmes & Sacker (and because he needs to do something evil every 24 minutes).