The fabulous Khartoum Diamond becomes the target of Italian gangsters when it’s moved from South Africa to be displayed in a Dutch museum. The exhibit’s director decides to hire a private detective to provide extra protection, but the crooks ensure that the job is offered to the incompetent Sherlock Jones.
Piet Bambergen was a popular comedic actor in the Netherlands in the 1960s and 70s and this role was one of his most popular vehicles. Unfortunately, comedy doesn’t always travel well, either geographically or in time, and this absurdist farce fails to raise many laughs for a modern audience.
Jones is the sort of character whose pratfalls and gaffs are only too familiar, and were less than ground-breaking when the film was originally released. Reliance is then placed on the familiarity of the jokes to muster audience goodwill and, although this approach does seem to have been successful at the time, it all looks hopelessly dated now. There is a touch of the daydreaming Walter Mitty about the lead character, but it’s never developed to any serious extent, the script preferring to saddle Bambergen with painfully predictable gags and obvious situations.
One time Bond girl and Hammer scream queen Julie Ege from ‘Creatures The World Forgot’ (1970) and ‘The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires‘ (1974) makes a surprising appearance here; apparently ‘spotted’ by the producer in the bizarre Marty Feldman flick ‘Every Hone Should Have One’ (1970). The Norwegian actress was dubbed but does a passable job with her one-note role, a description which could be supplied to the endeavours of the entire cast. Bambergen is very professional too, and a scene where he fights with bank robbers is initially quite physically impressive as obviously no stunt double was used. However, a quick check of the actor’s biography reveals that he was actually only in his mid-40s at the time and not far older, as he appears to be.
But the best performance in the film comes from Wizard who plays Bambergen’s ‘straight man’. You see, rather unusually, Watson is not a doctor on this occasion but a basset hound. The dog’s silent commentary on his master’s ridiculous antics bear a passing resemblance to a far more famous man/dog double act, Aardman Animation’s ‘Wallace and Gromit.’ It’s intriguing to speculate whether animator Nick Park saw this film before starting work on ‘A Grand Day Out.’
This isn’t a terrible effort by any means but the trials and tribulations of ‘Sherlock Jones’ don’t make any significant impression and the film is unlikely to be more than a very tiny footnote in the history of film comedy.