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’

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • 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.”

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.