Watch John Cleese as Sherlock Holmes in The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It

Here’s some­thing to light­en your day a lit­tle: Mon­ty Python’s John Cleese as Sher­lock Holmes in the 1977 British tele­vi­sion film The Strange Case of the End of Civ­i­liza­tion as We Know It.

As the title sug­gests, it’s a very sil­ly film. Cleese plays Arthur Sher­lock Holmes, grand­son of the famous detec­tive. His side­kick, Dr. Wat­son, is sim­i­lar­ly descend­ed from a famil­iar char­ac­ter in the Arthur Conan Doyle sto­ries. Togeth­er they set out to foil a dia­bol­i­cal plot by their neme­sis, a descen­dent of Pro­fes­sor Mori­ar­ty. The mod­ern-day Holmes has some of the same man­ner­isms as his famous grand­fa­ther, but is decid­ed­ly less clever and likes to keep his cal­abash pipe filled with exot­ic vari­eties of cannabis.

Cleese co-wrote the script with Jack Hobbs and the film’s direc­tor, Joseph McGrath, who is best known for direct­ing the Peter Sell­ers movies Casi­no Royale and The Mag­ic Chris­t­ian. It was pro­duced for Lon­don Week­end Tele­vi­sion by Humphrey Bar­clay, who is gen­er­al­ly cred­it­ed with bring­ing togeth­er much of what even­tu­al­ly became the Mon­ty Python cast, includ­ing Amer­i­can ani­ma­tor Ter­ry Gilliam, in the sub­ver­sive late-1960s chil­dren’s show Do Not Adjust Your Set. Cleese’s wife at the time, Con­nie Booth, who was also col­lab­o­rat­ing with him on the TV series Fawl­ty Tow­ers, plays the detec­tive’s land­la­dy Mrs. Hud­son. And Arthur Lowe is very fun­ny as the dim-wit­ted Dr. Wat­son.

The Strange Case of the End of Civ­i­liza­tion as We Know It is a low-bud­get affair — extreme­ly goofy — and not for every­one. But if you’re a fan of clas­sic British TV com­e­dy and you love out­landish gags, you should get a kick out of it. The fun­ni­est parts begin after the 13-minute mark, when Cleese arrives onscreen.

You can find The Strange Case of the End of Civ­i­liza­tion as We Know It in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Mon­ty Python’s Best Phi­los­o­phy Sketch­es

Arthur Conan Doyle Dis­cuss­es Sher­lock Holmes and Psy­chics in a Rare Filmed Inter­view (1927)

John Cleese Plays the Dev­il, Makes a Spe­cial Appeal for Hell, 1966

John Cleese’s Eulo­gy for Gra­ham Chap­man: ‘Good Rid­dance, the Free-Load­ing Bas­tard, I Hope He Fries’

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Comments (3)
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  • DLF says:

    We have 5 days left on our crowd-fund­ing cam­paign for our spoof Sher­lock Holmes project called ‘DERMOT JONES AND TEH DRAGONS BREATH’ and we could real­ly do with your help. If you can, please donate or share the link.nn

  • Jean Krogh says:

    I can­not get The Strange Case of the End of Civ­i­liza­tion As We Know It to play past the open­ing 8 min­utes, as accessed from the open cul­ture page, or from 725 free movies, and anoth­er com­put­er in this house­hold got to the end of part 4 but no fur­ther, as accessed from open cul­ture or from YouTube. Thought you should know. Jk

  • Gabriel Gheorghiu says:

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the movie is not avail­able :(

    “The YouTube account asso­ci­at­ed with this video has been ter­mi­nat­ed due to mul­ti­ple third-par­ty noti­fi­ca­tions of copy­right infringe­ment.”

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