The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother

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The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother
Adventure of sherlock holmes smarter brother xlg movie poster.jpg
Promotional movie poster
Directed by Gene Wilder
Produced by Richard A. Roth
Written by Gene Wilder
Starring Gene Wilder
Madeline Kahn
Marty Feldman
Dom DeLuise
Leo McKern
Roy Kinnear
Douglas Wilmer
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Gerry Fisher
Edited by Jim Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 14, 1975 (1975-12-14)
Running time
91 min.
Country United Kingdom United States
Language English
Budget $2,805,000[1]
Box office $20,000,000[2]

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother is a 1975 American musical comedy film with Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern.[3] The film was Wilder's directorial debut, from his own original script.

Douglas Wilmer and Thorley Walters appear as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively. Wilmer had previously appeared as Sherlock Holmes in the 1960s BBC TV series, and Walters played Watson in three other films: Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), The Best House in London (1969), and Silver Blaze (1977).


The hero is Sigerson Holmes (Wilder), the younger and "smarter" brother of Sherlock "Sheer-Luck" Holmes. Envious of his more famous brother, Sigerson teams up with a Scotland Yard records clerk (Feldman) and a would-be opera singer (Kahn) to solve a case that Sherlock is unable to attend to, putting him up against both Moriarty (McKern) and a blackmailer (DeLuise).



Wilder was having lunch with producer Roth when it was suggested that Wilder spoof Sherlock Holmes.[4]

...I said I had - every other week for a year. But I couldn't see making fun of such a well-loved character in a 140 minute movie.[4]

Roth approached Wilder again a week later and inquired if Wilder had given anymore thought to the idea of a Sherlock Holmes film. Wilder replied "No, but I have given a great deal of thought to Sherlock's insanely jealous brother Sigi."[4]

In his autobiography, Wilder explained that he was further motivated by the experience of working with his Young Frankenstein co-stars Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman and he wanted to write parts for both of them in his next project. Wilder began writing Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother as production was wrapping on Young Frankenstein. On the set of Frankenstein, Mel Brooks warned Wilder that now that he was writing movies, he would eventually move to directing movies to protect his scripts. After Smarter Brother, Wilder would go on to write, direct and star in three more features over the next ten years (The World's Greatest Lover in 1977, The Woman in Red in 1984, and Haunted Honeymoon in 1986.)

Wilder's screenplay reveals a deep knowledge of Conan Doyle's characters as Marty Feldman's character, Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker, shares a similar name with that originally applied to John Watson, Ormond Sacker.[4]


The film's title and premise are a joke referring to the character of Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes' older brother, who was by both of their estimates a good deal smarter than Sherlock. He was, however, too lazy to become a detective, and did indispensable work for the British government. Mycroft was described by Sherlock in conversation with Watson:

One has to be discreet when one talks of high matters of state. You are right in thinking that he is under the British government. You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British government.

[...] Mycroft draws four hundred and fifty pounds a year, remains a subordinate, has no ambitions of any kind, will receive neither honour nor title, but remains the most indispensable man in the country.

Sigerson's name refers to an alias used by Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Empty House". Kahn's character is named after singer Jenny Hill; she initially uses the pseudonym Bessie Bellwood, but Sigerson sees through the ruse and notes that the real Bellwood had died over a decade prior (in reality, Bellwood and Hill died in the same year, 1896).


The film earned $9.4 million in rentals in North America during its theatrical release.[5]

DVD release[edit]

This was released on DVD on April 4, 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p257
  2. ^ "The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ Variety film review; December 3, 1975, page 22.
  4. ^ a b c d Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 9–10. ISBN 1-903111-04-8. 
  5. ^ Solomon p 233

External links[edit]