Netflix’s “Freud As a Sleuth” Is Not A New Concept


Netflix’s new German language series posits a young, King of Shrinks, who is soon to be a sleuth tracking a serial killer, but this is far from the first time he’s been portrayed this way on film.


Freud featured as character (played by Alan Arkin) in the 1976 movie The Seven Percent Solution, helping a cocaine-addicted Nicol Williamson quit his habit. In that picture, Robert Duvall played a deeply annoyingly-accented Watson.


The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1/1) 1976


Monty Clift played the psychiatrist in John Huston’s fictional bio-pic Freud: The Secret Passion (1962), and David Suchet took on the role in the BBC mini-series Freud (1984). 


Freud: The Secret Passion - classic movie trailer


And of course Rod Loomis in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989).




More recently in 2011 Viggo Mortensen essayed the role in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method.


A Dangerous Method Official Trailer (2011) HD


Many other actual historical figures of relatively recent memory who have found themselves in completely fictionalized story lines. In 2016 US cable/satellite channel Freeform announced that producer McG was prepping a Young Adult-skewed show  based on Princess Anastasia surviving the murder of the rest of her family and becoming an espionage agent in 1920s Paris.


In reality, this looks to be a generic fantasy series, merely using the Romanov name as a hook, mirroring contemporary TV series and movies that have used real life historical figures as action heroes.



Others include Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle as wisecracking amateur sleuths (in the lousy Houdini & Doyle) Leonardo Da Vinci as a steampunk adventurer (Da Vinci’s Demons), inventor Nickola Tesla as the archetypal mad scientist (Sanctuary/The Prestige/Murdoch Mysteries), Abraham Lincoln moonlighting as a hunter of the undead (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer) and HG Wells travelling to the future in an actual time machine (Time after Time).


Houdini & Doyle FOX Trailer



Grigori Rasputin has popped up as a fictional version in many movies and TV series including as a a vampire in Forever Knight and a malign quasi-immortal spirit in Hellboy


See also Edgar Allen Poe (The Raven), President  Ulysses S Grant (Wild Wild West) and of course Hitler (JoJo Rabbit – and recently in Preacher, played by Noah Taylor, who also took the role in the underrated Max – 2002).



And multiple real life figures have been fictionalised in Peter (Comic Strip) Richardson’s comedies Churchill: The Hollywood YearsStella Street, Strike, GLC, Red Top and The Hunt for Tony Blair… 


Churchill: The Hollywood Years - Trailer

Whew. Did I miss anyone?

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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'