The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (film)

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

Directed by Herbert Ross
Produced by Stanley O'Toole
Herbert Ross
Arlene Sellers
Alex Winitsky
Written by Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
Nicholas Meyer (novel)
Starring Nicol Williamson
Robert Duvall
Alan Arkin
Georgia Brown
Samantha Eggar
Charles Gray
Jeremy Kemp
Joel Grey
Laurence Olivier
Vanessa Redgrave
Music by John Addison
Cinematography Oswald Morris
Edited by Chris Barnes
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release dates
  • 24 October 1976 (1976-10-24)
Running time
113 min.
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution is a 1976 Universal Studios Sherlock Holmes film, directed by Herbert Ross and written by Nicholas Meyer. It is based on Meyer's 1974 novel of the same name and stars Nicol Williamson, Robert Duvall, Alan Arkin and Laurence Olivier.


Dr. John H. Watson (Robert Duvall) becomes convinced that his friend Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) is delusional—particularly in his belief that Professor James Moriarty (Laurence Olivier) is a criminal mastermind—as a result of his addiction to cocaine. Moriarty visits Watson to complain about being harassed by Holmes. Watson enlists the aid of Sherlock's brother, Mycroft (Charles Gray), to trick Holmes into traveling to Vienna, where he will be treated by Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). During the course of his treatment, Holmes investigates a kidnapping case with international implications and Freud uncovers a dark personal secret suppressed in Holmes's subconscious.



The film was made at Pinewood Studios with location shooting in the UK and Austria (including the Austrian National Library); the tennis match/duel between Freud and von Leinsdorf was filmed on one of the historic real tennis courts at the Queen's Club in West Kensington, London.[1] The production designer was Ken Adam.

Stephen Sondheim wrote a song for the movie ("The Madame's Song") that was later recorded as "I Never Do Anything Twice" on the Side By Side By Sondheim cast recording.[1]


The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was well received by critics and currently holds an 82% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune ranked it ninth place on his list of the top ten films of 1976.[3]


The film received two Oscar nominations for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Nicholas Meyer) and Best Costume Design (Alan Barrettt) at the 49th Academy Awards.

Home media

Shout! Factory released the film on Blu-ray on January 22, 2013 along with a DVD in the package.[4]

Meyer appeared in a 18-minute interview for the Blu-ray release by Shout Factory. Meyer discussed the genesis of the idea (his father was a psychiatrist and Meyer was a fan of Holmes' creator Arthur Conan Doyle) and how he took the opportunity to write the novel when the Writers Guild of America went on strike.

Meyer revealed that he had often fought with Ross because Ross was too faithful to Meyer's novel. He believed that the script would not be cinematic enough if it was too faithful with the source.

He discussed the casting including his push for Alan Arkin as Freud. He shared a story about how he and Ross decided to cast Duvall "in revolt" against Nigel Bruce's portrayal of Watson as a "Colonel Blimp" type character. Meyer and Ross wanted to try and capture Watson's intelligence that had so far not been portrayed on screen in Holmes movie adaptations.[5]


External links

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