Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)

Sherlock : Roger Moore
Watson ; Patrick Macnee
Moriarty : John Huston

The opens with Sherlock (Roger Moore) confronting Professor Moriarty (John Huston) and telling him that he has just broken up his organization. Moriarty tells Sherlock that he will get even with him.

Sherlock and Mr. Watson later get torn up theater tickets in the mail and Irene Adler in starring in the New York play. She always sends Sherlock opening night tickets. What did Moriarty have to do with this? Sherlock knows he is going for his one weakness.

Sherlock and Watson meet Irene (Charlotte Rampling). Her son has been kidnapped. Sherlock is told to not help the police when they approach him on a new case or the boy will die. The police then approach Sherlock a room full of gold that has been stolen but Sherlock has to refuse to help them.

Sherlock rescues Irene's son and then helps the police with their case.

At the end, after Sherlock's triumph, Irene hints at Sherlock being the father of her child and then gives him a picture of him.

Not bad, but the production values for this TV movie was only fair, and with Roger moore, John Huston and Charlotte Rampling it should have been much better.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sherlock Holmes (1916)

Holmes : William Gillette

The discovery of a lost film is probably just as exciting as the movie itself. In 1899, William Gillette, who had adapted pieces of "A scandal in Bohemia", "The Final Problem" and "A Study in Scarlet" in to a successful stage play, which he starred in called "Sherlock Holmes." Gillette had asked Arthur Conan Doyle if he could add a love interest for Holmes, and Doyle who was sick of Holmes at this point told him "You may marry him, or murder him or do what you like with him."  In the play Gillette popularized the deerstalker cap and curved pipe which become associated with Sherlock Holmes.

In 1916, Gillette filmed Sherlock Holmes which was really just a film of his stage play. It was to be Gillette's first and only screen appearance. 

The film had been thought to be lost until it was discovered in 2014 in France. The movie was restored and the French language intertitles were translated in to English.

The plot is about a nobleman who had been a lover of Alice Faulkner's sister and had written some indiscreet letters to her. The prince wanted the letters back, but Alice wouldn't cooperate because she blames the nobleman for her sister's death. A criminal couple, the Larrabees, want to use Alice to blackmail the prince and get Moriarty to help them.

Representatives of the nobleman retain Sherlock, and he gets involved to help Alice, the nobleman and to foil Moriarty.

The movie is beautifully restored with brown tinted frames. It is a little slow, but it is amazing for a movie made in 1916. William Gillette makes a wonderful Holmes. It was really interesting ti see what the stage play, Gillette was so well known for, really looked like.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mr. Holmes (2015)

Holmes : Ian McKellen

"I've decided to write the story down; as it was, not as John made it. Get it right, before I die."

The movie, set in 1947 has a 93 year old Sherlock returning from a trip to Japan where he has been searching for something that will work better to help his fading memory than the royal jelly he has been experimenting with.

Sherlock has one last mystery he has to grapple with, he can't remember his last case. Dr. Watson had chronicled it, but Sherlock knows that wasn't what really happened.

Sherlock spends his time keeping bees, and he is looking to put the memories of his life in order. Why had he retired to this farm in the country. Why did he stop working? Sherlock tries to sort out the details of his last case.

 Sherlock goes to the movies to see one of the Basil Rathbone films to see if that would jar his memory. Nicholas Rowe, who portrayed Holmes in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes plays the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes in the clip shown on the screen. Sherlock tells his housekeeper's son Roger that the movie was rubbish. It didn't help his memory at all.

Sherlock begins to get flashbacks of the case thirty years earlier involving Ann Kelmot. He feels really guilty. He knows something very bad must have happened to force him in to retirement for thirty five years.

Sherlock finally solves the mystery of what really happened in his last case and ties the strands of his life together. John Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft: they are all gone now, but Sherlock is able to put his life in perspective. Sherlock also solves a mystery that has been bothering him about his bees.

Sherlock finally develops empathy and marks the end of hi life with two noble gestures.

Ian McKellan was great as the elderly Sherlock and the movie was very reverential in tone and very well done. I think it was great that the movie made Sherlock appear as a real character who watched in amusement at his fictional portrayal in film.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Holmes : Robert Downey Jr.
Watson : Jude Law
Professor Moriarty : Jared Harris

Dr. John Watson: [voice-over] The year was 1891. Storm clouds were brewing over Europe. France and Germany were at each other's throats, the result of a series of bombings. Some said it was the Nationalists. Others, the anarchists. But as usual, my friend Sherlock Holmes, had a different theory entirely.

Set in 1891 and Europe was in turmoil. Sherlock, in disguise, follows Irene Adler and foils her latest plot, but they still have a date for dinner. Irene goes to talk to Professor Moriarty and he is not happy with her relationship with Holmes. He tells her he will no longer require her services.

Om his wedding eve Watson comes over to see Holmes and Holmes tells Watson about the nefarious things that Moriarty is up to. It is a shadowey game that he and Moriarty are involved in. On the way over to a stag party Sherlock forgot to organize, they meet Mycroft and Sherlock tries talk Watson out of the marriage. Sherlock stops an assassin and Watson gets drunk and gets in a fight. Holmes and Watson show up at the wedding beat up and in tatters, but they show up, and Watson gets married.

Holmes is asked to visit Moriarty at the college, and he does. Then on his honeymoon an assassin comes after Watson. Holmes shows up and to get Watson's wife to a safe place he shoves her off the train. Now it is Holmes and Watson again.

More shannanagans follow as Holmes, Watson and a gypsy girl try to foil Moriarty's plan to start a European war so that he can make money selling them weapons. Lots of shooting, fighting and action.

In his review Roger Ebert says: "It's Downey's movie. With his cool, flippant manner, his Holmes stands apart from the danger, thinking it through visually before performing it, remaining insouciant in the face of calamity. He appears in many disguises, one with a markedly bad wig, another as a remarkably convincing chair. The thing to do, I suppose, is to set aside your memories of the Conan Doyle stories, save them to savor on a night this winter and enjoy this movie as a high-caliber entertainment."

I think Roger Ebert is right. This really isn't a Sherlock Holmes movie. Holmes, as in the preceding Ritchie movie, has almost super human powers as he can sense and foresee what his opponent will do. His mind works as a computer as it charts out his moves for him. Holmes instead of deducing things, pulls things out of his bag of tricks, Very different than the traditional Sherlock Holmes.

Pretty good movie, but once again that was not really Sherlock Holmes. You can see in the IMDB description - Action - Adventure - Crime. What you don't see is the word Mystery. Well written, with witty dialogue and quips. But the attempt to "modernize" the Shelock Holmes character almost loses him completely.

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004)

Holmes : Rupert Everett
Watson : Ian Hart

Sherlock is bored again and has fallen in to another drug-induced period of inactivity. Watson brings him a case of a young girl who has been murdered with a silk stocking wrapped around her throat. Sherlock doesn't want to get involved but the photo Watson leaves intrigues him, and he is on the case.

Holmes finds a stocking in the victim's throat. Then a Duke's daughter is killed in the same manner and a stocking appears again. Watson is back helping Holmes and his fiancee, who is a psychiatrist, has some interests in common with Holmes. While at the new victim's funeral another young girl, who is only thirteen, is snatched.

Holmes says they can do nothing but wait and takes another shot of cocaine. Another girl is almost taken but the police scare the assailant off. The girl saw the assailant and she is interviewed by Watson's fiancee. The young girl was undressed by the assailant who took off her shoes and kissed and hugged them. He put her stockings in her mouth. He then let her go. Holmes suspects he let her go because her feet were deformed.

Holmes interviews a suspect and then has the police fingerprint him. When Holmes walks the suspect, Charles Allen (Michael Fassbender) out, the young girl sees him and starts screaming. But his fingerprints don't match and he has alibis for each of the times of the abductions.

Holmes sets a trap using one of the victim's sisters. Charles Allen falls for the trap and drugs the girl. A disguised Holmes rescues the young girl. It seems as if the case is over. Holmes feels there must be an identical twin. The fingerprints will clear it up.

When the fingerprints don't match Holmes is puzzled but he knows the young girl he used as a decoy is in trouble. Charles Allen drugs the girl and takes her out of her room before they can get there.

They figure out now they are twins, but they are both in on it. Watson comes up with the answer and finds out the place where he might be. Holmes and Watson find the girl and Charles Allen, but he has a knife to the girl's throat. Holmes talks Allen out of the killing but then his brother shows up to help him.

A good Sherlock Holmes movie,, much more faithful to the originals, then the recent big budget ones that have been released.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002)

Holmes : Richard Roxburgh
Watson : Ian Hart

This English TV version begins with a retelling of the Baskerville legend describing the curse on the Basskervilles that seems to have just brought on the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Sir Henry Naskerville is coming in from Canada to claim his inheritance. "As you value your life or your reason keep away from the moor" is the message he gets upon arrival. Sir Henry has inherited over 1 million pounds.
Besides the Hound, there is also a dangerous escaped criminal loose on the moors. There was a seance scene where Sir Charles talked through a lady, pretty scary. Then the creature came to the window. Next the escaped convict comes in to the house. Watson then discovers that Holmes has been on the scene, spying undercover. Watson is not happy to have been tricked.

When Sir Henry turns up dead, Holmes blames himself but then they discover it isn't Sir Henry, but the convict in Sir Henry's clothes. Holmes then surmises that Jack Stapleton (Richard E. Grant of Withnail fame) is really a Baskerville from his resemblance to a picture of an ancestor on the wall. The Hound then attacks Sir Henry, and Holmes and Watson kill it after it has badly mauled Sir Henry.

Lestrade arrives and arrests Jack Stapleton, who is really John Baskerville, who was Sir Charles illegitimate son, and next in line to the Baskervill fortune.

I thought Ian Hart played a good, smart Watson, but Richard Roxburgh was not a good Holmes. Overall, a decent movie, even though it was not too fateful to the Doyle story. Richard E. Grant made a good villain and seeing Watson as a stronger character than Holmes was also interesting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

Holmes : Nichol Williamson
Watson : Robert Duvall
Moriarty : Lawrence Olivier
Sigmund Freud: Who am I, that your friends should wish us to meet?
Sherlock Holmes: Beyond the fact that you are a brilliant Jewish physician who was born in Hungary and studied for a while in Paris, and that certain radical theories of yours have alienated the respectable medical community so that you have severed your connections with various hospitals and branches of the medical fraternity, beyond this I can deduce little. You're married, with a child of... five. You enjoy Shakespeare and possess a sense of honour.
Sigmund Freud: It's wonderful.
Sherlock Holmes: Commonplace.
I will watch, and enjoy, any movie that has Lawrence Olivier and Robert Duvall but this movie also happens to be about one of my favorite characters, Sherlock Holmes. The movie based on the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but based on a book by Nicholas Meyer.
The movie opens in 1891 and is giving the "facts" behind Holmes' disappearance for three years. When Watson (Robert Duvall) shows up at 221B Baker Street, he hasn't seen Holmes in four months. When he gets there Holmes is ranting about Moriarty and seems to have gone over the edge. Holmes was now going to the needle for his seven-per-cent solution more often than ever.
And then Moriarty shows up to talk to Watson. He explains that Holmes is persecuting him. He follows him around and sends him messages. Moriarty explains that he was both the Holmes boys math tutors. He then explains that then the "tragedy" happened, but refuses to explain it.
Knowing that he has to free Holmes from his addiction, Watson solicits Mycroft's aid and he convinces Moriarty to go to Vienna. Once there, Watson arranges a meeting with Sigmund Freud. Freud tells him that he is there so he can try to help him with his addiction, which he has freed himself from. Freud hypnotizes Holmes to try to reduce the need for the cocaine.
During the withdrawal Holmes suffered and had many hallucinations but eventually his fever breaks and he begins to feel better. Holmes admits that :the only time that Professor Moriarty occupied the role of my nemesis was when it took him three weeks to make clear to me the mysteries of elementary calculus."
When Freud brings Watson to his athletic club, he is challenged by a Baron von Leinsdorf as a Jew, signifying that the club must have gone down hill since he was last there. He then makes reference to Freud's theories that young men sleep with their mothers. Watson then challenges the Baron, but Freud steps in to fight his own battle. But rather than duel with swords, he chooses the tennis racket as his weapon of choice and they play a tennis game in a racket ball type court.
The movie does drag a little in the second half as Holmes tries to solve a mystery and Freud tries to solve the mysteries of Holmes life and in particular what event in his unconscious is driving him to use cocaine. The first mystery is a little weak, but the mystery involving Holmes' unconscious is interesting and well done.
A very good movie, although not based on the original Doyle stories, it is an excellent addition to the Sherlock Holmes movie list.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Crucifer of Blood (1991)

Holmes : Charlton Heston
Watson : Richard Johnson

Sherlock Holmes: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Charlton Heston, late in his career, takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes in this made for TV movie based loosely on The Sign of the Four. Set in 1897 in London, the story begins with Watson writing the story, which he says due to its nature he is going to leave unpublished.

The story really begins thirty years before, in 1867 India, during the Great Mutiny. One of the Indian soldiers asks a British office to help him seize a maharajah's treasure during the confusion of the rebellion and he agrees to join in.

When he is caught in the act, he lets two other officers join in but they have to kill two of the Indians. The men form a pact to never tell what has happened.

When we first meet Holmes he is being castigated by Watson for his drug use, which is brought on his his inactivity. Then Irne St. Claire appears and looks to get Holmes help with her father, Neville St. Claire, who was one of the officers involved in the theft from the maharajah. Her father lives under the fear of a curse, and is now a helpless opium addict. When he needs money he goes to his fellow conspirator, Alistair Ross.

When Sherlock pays a visit on Ross with the parchment Irne had received, with a Crucifer (cross) written in blood with the oath the men took long again. The third man involved in the pacr Jonathan Small is missing, and a mysterious man shows up asking about the jewels and then an ape-like creature shows up, and Ross is killed, poisoned by a thorn.

 The movie drags a little, but has good production values and has a pretty good surprise ending. Overall, well worth seeing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Speckled Band (1931)

Holmes : Raymond Massey
Watson : Athole Stewart

Raymond Massey takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes in this early movie. Sherlock is a little bit different here having an office with three secretaries and a computer like device.

The movie opens up with Violet Stoner deciding to quickly marry her fiance who is being called away with work for a year. She was going to inherit money from her parent's estate, but she dies before the marriage can take place. Her last words were "The Speckled Band."

Violet's sister Helen has now become engaged and she begins to fear her step-father, Dr. Rylott. When he tries to make her sleep in her sister's room, she goes to Sherlock Holmes for help.

When Sherlock comes to the estate he examines the room and finds some strange things going on.

The movie sticks pretty close to the original Arthur Conan Doyle story, and is pretty well done. Gypsies, India, and snakes all make their way in to the movie.

This was Raymond Massey's first credited film and he did very well. It's a shame he didn't get another chance to play him later in his career. The film quality of the movie wasn't too good.

The movie closes with the following dialogue :

Sherlock Holmes: From your clothes I would deduce - you're going to a wedding.
Dr. John Watson: At last I've got you. For once in your life you're wromg.
Sherlock Holmes: Wrong?
Dr. John Watson: I'm not going to a wedding! I'm coming from one!
Dr. John Watson: [Watson again enjoys a hearty laugh]
Sherlock Holmes: Give them my congratulations or perhaps condolences.
Dr. John Watson: Rubbish! We all come to it, my dear fellow.
Dr. John Watson: [he laughs again] We all come to it. Goodbye.
Sherlock Holmes: [alone after Watson has left] Not all, my dear Watson... not all.

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962)

Holmes : Christopher Lee
Watson : Thorley Walters

An import from Germany which has English actor Christopher Lee's voice dubbed back in English. Lee makes a good Holmes as he once again pursues Professor Moriarty.

One of Holmes informants is killed on the way back to deliver him a message but leaves a clue for Holmes and Watson to follow. Holmes discovers that a Cleopatra's necklace, discovered by archaeologists has been stolen by Moriarty. When Holmes meets with Moriarty, the Professor asks Holmes to former a partnership with him. Holmes tells him that he hopes to see him hanged.

The movie probably was better in the original German. The dubbed voice of Holmes was particularly distracting considering how much of the Holmes character is dependent on his verbal ramblings.

Thorley Walters went on to play Dr. Watson again in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother.

This was not a great entry in the series, but Lee did make for an interesting Holmes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

They Might Be Giants (1971)

Holmes : George C. Scott
Watson : Joann Woodward

Dr. Mildred Watson: You're just like Don Quixote. You think that everything is always something else.
Justin Playfair: Well, he had a point. 'Course he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be, well... All the best minds used to think the world was flat. But what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what might be, why we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.

Justin Playfair (George C. Scott), a former judge, thinks he is Sherlock Holmes and his psychiatrist Dr. Mildred Watson is fascinated by his case. Joining the story of Don Quixote on to Sherlock Holmes story. Playfair is quite convincing as Holmes, but his brother can't wait to commit him but he needs Dr. Watson's signature.

Playfair helps the underdogs and fights against the corrupt institutions, all with his pipe in his mouth. Playfair can identify with other psychotics and can think like they can. A man who won't talk is analyzed by Holmes/Palyfair as Rudolph Valentino, the silent film star. Once introduced, Valentino begins talking.

Justin Playfair was a 'great reformer, always out to make things better", but when his wife died he became Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is trying to find Moriarty, who he blames for everything evil in the world. When Holmes analyzes Watson, she is stunned by his genius and disturbed by his insights.

When Mildred introduces herself as Dr. Watson, he is the one fascinated. She is now part of the team. Holmes and Watson set off on a series of adventures as Holmes searches for Moriarty. Dr. Watson is trying to save Playfair, from his brother who wants him committed so he can get his money. The movie then takes a turn towards romance between its two leads.

A really good movie with two great actors buying in to their roles. The interaction between the two is just great to watch. The movie does slow down in the last third, but still well worth seeing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sherlock : Case of Evil (2002)

Evil Holmes : James D’Arcy
Watson : Roger Morlidge
Moriarty : Vincent D’Onofrio

This movie tried to solve many of the mysteries behind the Sherlock Holmes persona. Why Sherlock took drugs, why Sherlock would never get involved with women, how he met Dr. Watson and even how he got his hat and pipe. It tried to answer all these questions but it didn’t explore the one thing that made him so interesting – his brilliance.

It showed a fighting Sherlock but he was presented as a second rate wit and that wasn’t too enjoyable to watch. The most exciting characteristic of Sherlock is his brilliance and it wasn’t on display here.

The movie does present a very competent and helpful Dr. Watson. In this regard it was more faithful to the Conan Doyle stories than the Rathbone movies, but it wasn’t as much fun. Sherlockians will admire the portrayal but I’ll take Nigel Bruce. The comic relief he gave those movies was a big part of their charm.

I also wasn’t thrilled with James D’Arcy as Sherlock. Although he played a young Sherlock, he still didn’t seem to capture the essence of the man. On the other hand, I thought Vincent D’Onofrio’s Moriarty was very well done.

    I also didn’t think the movie did a good job of capturing Victorian England. Most of the outdoor shots looked like they were filmed on a stage.

    Overall a decent movie, worth seeing, but nothing special.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)


Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce
Moriarty : George Zucco

This movie was based on the William Gillette play which began touring the US around 1899. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce were great as Sherlock and Dr. Watson, George Zucco was also really good as Moriarty.br>
The story was very entertaining as Sherlock again matches wits with the Professor. The Professor, who lives to outwit his only true rival, again outwits Sherlock by taking advantage of one of his weaknesses. the Professor says, "Holmes, you only now barely missed sending me to the gallows. You're the only man in England clever enough to defeat me. I'm going to break you. I'm going to bring off right under your nose the most incredible crime of the century, and you'll never suspect it until it's too late. It'll be the end of you Sherlock Holmes."br>
Watson is again the perfect observer of Holmes' brilliance and is also a great element of comic relief, as he is in all of the movies in this series. At one point Holmes says of him : "Whatever Watson has found out, you'll know inevitably. I have unbounded confidence in his lack of discretion." The movie also stars Ida Lupino as a woman in need of help.br>
It's the little things that make these movies so charming and clever. Holmes trying to discover a musical note that will drive away flies, Holmes in disguise singing a song, Holmes taking a carriage on a wild ride. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a movie that has held up really well.

Dressed to Kill (1946)


Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

This was the last of the fourteen movies starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion, Dr. Watson. I thought it was very well done. Sherlock really shows off some of his logical skills as he battles a group of counterfeiters. The music boxes mystery was a nice problem for Sherlock to solve.

Dr. Watson is again the perfect partner to Sherlock as he unwittingly supplies Sherlock with clues to solving the problems before them. This device, though not part of Conan Doyle's stories, was an integral part of the movies.