Gene Wilder writes and directs The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, a spoof comedy from 1975 starring Wilder himself as Sigerson Holmes, the iconic sleuth's lesser known younger brother, who is assigned to a case linked to Sherlock's arch-enemy Moriarty.
Very much in the vein of Young Frankenstein, the film follows the goofier relative of a well known literary figure and a good old-fashioned farce ensues. Wilder reunites with slapstick legend Marty Feldman, a detective with a photographic memory who assists him, and their main lead is beautiful actress and compulsive liar Jenny Hill (a hilarious Madeline Kahn). The reliably great Dom DeLuise also appears near the end of the film as a shady opera singer with a cartoonish accent. The plot of the film pokes fun at the convoluted nature of Arthur Conan Doyle's novels and the clichés found in most Sherlock Holmes films but it's more of a loving homage than anything else.
All the characters here are pretty eccentric: Jenny Hill only gives information when she's properly "stimulated", Feldman's character has to knock the side of his head to deliver messages, Moriarty (an excellent Leo McKern) has a relentless tick that makes him quack and Holmes' brother practices fencing using a goofy contraption, the list goes on.
Unlike Haunted Honeymoon, this comedy is easy to follow and keeps the laughs coming plus there's always something entertainingly wacky going on so you're never bored. Whether it's everyone spontaneously bursting into a rendition of the "Kangaroo Hop", some clumsy swashbuckling or a wonderfully chaotic opera performance, it's hard to resist the film's off-beat charm. Everyone involved looks like they're having a great time, hence the endearing performances and the writing is effortlessly funny. While it was Gene Wilder's directorial debut, this feels like a confident, accomplished film and it's a worthy companion piece to the Mel Brooks films made around that time. You can tell a lot of effort went into making this movie and it certainly pays off.
The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother is a very funny comedy fans of Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks and/or Sherlock Holmes should really enjoy. It's a lot of fun throughout and the cast is so good it makes it worth it alone.
Recommended, my dear Watson.