Sherlock Holmes

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Simon36
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Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

Having a little dip back into the wonderful Brett episodes again and wondered what people's views on Holmes are here? I adore the Brett series, especially the first thirteen with David Burke. I never thought Edward Hardwicke could come close to him and as Brett's health began to fail the series to me began to slip a little but watching The Solitary Cyclist, Speckled Band etc again they are just marvellous.

Has there ever been anything to rival it? Ive never seen the Cushing series, only the films he played Holmes in. Outside of Brett and Burke for me it's only Plummer and Mason in Murder by Decree that came close.

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Doom Patrol
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Doom Patrol »

Like yourself Simon I thought the first thirteen episodes were excellent. But, I really think they should have stopped after that. Particularly when they bungled some of my favourite stories later. The best Holmes we never saw was probably Clive Merrison in actual fact and the adaptations they did for radio.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by didi-5 »

In the Brett series the Adventures and the Return are both superb series - later series have a gem here and there but Brett's failing health is obvious and the sparkle has largely gone.

In terms of other TV Holmes, I enjoyed both the Wilmer and Cushing versions, and of course the modern reboot as Sherlock. I also liked Guy Henry as Young Sherlock, Jonathan Pryce in the Baker Street Irregulars, and - although he was Holmes through an Oscar Wilde veil - Rupert Everett in the Case of the Silk Stocking.

However my favourite Holmes on film - Arthur Wontner - is largely forgotten, which is a great shame.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Mickey »

Pryce and Everett were both very promising. I'd have liked to have seen more of them in the role.

Beyond that, I like the Rathbone version. I know it often annoys purists, but there's something so enjoyable about his knockabout adventure movies, which in some ways is actually not that far from the original books. Screen Holmeses always seem too sedate, not helped by the fascination for having an older Watson (which the Rathbone version was guilty of as well of course). Plus I love Holmes fighting the Nazis. Sorry.

Mind you, I'm a fan of the Robert Downey Jr films, so possibly there is no hope for me.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by mikew »

There's so much to love in the Brett series although I have to admit a slight preference for Edward Hardwicke as Watson. I still think their version of The Sign of Four is the single best Sherlock Holmes production ever made. (The less said about their Hound of the Baskervilles, the better.)

I thought after that it would be virtually impossible for anyone else to convince me as Holmes but the Clive Merrison radio series managed it. Works beautifully as a take on the entire canon. They even manage to make one of their best episodes out of The Lion's Mane.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

Interesting: I find Hardwicke very dull. Burke to me was so lively and funny and an equal presence on the screen. But agreed about the brilliance of Sign of Four. The sudden change that swept over the series with Baskervilles was quite alarming.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Paul Hayes »

Great fan of the Brett series, which I originally discovered on its BBC Two run in the early 2000s. I agree the quality dips the further into the run you go, but on the whole there are more good episodes than bad.

Pryce and Paterson were wasted in the BBC Sunday afternoon thing, I'd have much preferred them as the leads and dump the boring kids! Everett I thought was appalling, never saw Roxburgh. Cushing I've enjoyed both in the Hound film and his surviving BBC episodes, and I enjoy the BBC Cumberbatch / Freeman series.

I liked the first Guy Richie film, but thought the second was a boring generic action movie in Victorian clothing.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

My fave Bretts: A Scandal in Bohemia (Gayle Hunnicutt is just right as Irene Adler), The Blue Carbuncle (deserves to be a Christmas perennial especially due to the ending when Holmes reluctantly puts the dish cover down on the Christmas dinner to go off to get the innocent man freed. All Is Well With The World Once More), The Greek Interpreter, The Man with the Twisted Lip (I like this Alan Plater adaptation much more now than I did at the time, wonderful scene with the little girl whose dad's gone missing looking in on Holmes and the looks they exchange with no dialogue), and The Final Problem, The Second Stain.

Speckled Band and Hound both needed a bit of top spin. There was something a bit turgid about them.

I even liked some of the later ones when things were clearly getting a bit difficult, Brett's health etc.

I like Sherlock (TV) - but why does everyone including Moriarty always have to be so young? - but have avoided the Guy Richie films simply because they're Guy Richie films. Are they anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, really?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Mothy »

ctraynor wrote:I like Sherlock (TV) - but why does everyone including Moriarty always have to be so young?
Holmes and Watson are only supposed to be in their 30s and 40s during the 1880s and 1890s though. Benedict Cumberbatch is 36 and Martin Freeman is 41, so they're well within the range really. If anything, Freeman is a bit older than Watson is during several of the stories. Of the others, Rupert Graves is 49, Andrew Scott is 36 and Mark Gatiss is 46. Sherlock is usually supposed to have been born in 1854, with Watson being a similar age, which means that several of the previous actors were probably somewhat older than the characters were meant to be, at least for some of the time.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

mikew wrote:There's so much to love in the Brett series although I have to admit a slight preference for Edward Hardwicke as Watson. I still think their version of The Sign of Four is the single best Sherlock Holmes production ever made. (The less said about their Hound of the Baskervilles, the better.)
There's a certain irony that Baskervilles is the most well-known story, even though it's not particularly the best. The Sign of Four has to be the contender for the second-most dramastised one, yet the title probably wouldn't be recognised by most people who had even heard of Holmes.
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Mothy wrote:
ctraynor wrote:I like Sherlock (TV) - but why does everyone including Moriarty always have to be so young?
Holmes and Watson are only supposed to be in their 30s and 40s during the 1880s and 1890s though. Benedict Cumberbatch is 36 and Martin Freeman is 41, so they're well within the range really. If anything, Freeman is a bit older than Watson is during several of the stories. Of the others, Rupert Graves is 49, Andrew Scott is 36 and Mark Gatiss is 46. Sherlock is usually supposed to have been born in 1854, with Watson being a similar age, which means that several of the previous actors were probably somewhat older than the characters were meant to be, at least for some of the time.
A Study in Scarlet is set in 1881, when Holmes would have been 27, and Watson's only a couple of years older at the most.
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

Moriary was supposed to be a bit older though, wasn't he?

Speaking of which, Eric Porter looked the part but I think someone less famous and less cartoony would have been better. I'd have plumped for someone like Edwin Richfield.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by DavidT »

didi-5 wrote:In the Brett series the Adventures and the Return are both superb series - later series have a gem here and there but Brett's failing health is obvious and the sparkle has largely gone.

In terms of other TV Holmes, I enjoyed both the Wilmer and Cushing versions, and of course the modern reboot as Sherlock. I also liked Guy Henry as Young Sherlock, Jonathan Pryce in the Baker Street Irregulars, and - although he was Holmes through an Oscar Wilde veil - Rupert Everett in the Case of the Silk Stocking.

However my favourite Holmes on film - Arthur Wontner - is largely forgotten, which is a great shame.
Have to say Wontner is an excellent Holmes. One film is lost isn't it? A shame no decent prints of the others are around. I think two different actors played Watson in his films? I have to admit to being a big Rathbone fan as well. I hugely enjoy his films and especially the first two and The Scarlet Claw. Its a box set I re-visit regularly and I often listen to their radio shows too.

I'm probably in a very small minority but I didn't think Ronald Howard was bad either. Some of the stories were a bit silly but there were a few decent ones in there too. Wilmer I enjoyed and its always difficult to fault Cushing.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Lee Rose »

I adore the Cushing series. Being a traditional multi-camera drama with location inserts it's very different to the filmed Brett series in it's style and execution. I couldn't pick one over the other if I had to chose, and it's a crying shame many of the Cushing series episodes are lost.

I've still got the bulk of the Wilmer episodes on the R1 release to watch when I find the time, though I was impressed by the two episodes released on VHS in the 90s.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by marsey »

I must admit I like most things Holmes. The Murder Rooms is probably my favourite non-Brett, but I do also like Smarter Brother and have grown to like the new BBC series. Before I saw Brett's ITV series, I thought that Rathbone was wonderful, afterwards notso. However now I appreciate the series for what it was; a jingo-istic stiff-upper-lip set of films bringing Holmes into the modern era. This it did brilliantly, and I think that Rathbone could have been the equal of Brett given the opportunity.

Having re-watched the entire Brett series not long ago, I was suprised how poor some of the episodes were cmpared to how I remembered them. Some of the films, especially The Master Blackmailer. are painfully drawn out when 50 minutes would have been quite sufficient. I agree with the majority here that the first series was top rate, so was most of the second. The Dancing Men and The Red-headed League being my favourites.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Mickey »

Yes, "The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" is a jolly good film. There's something about the way that Gene Wilder can transition from the barking mad to the genuinely serious, often in the same scene. Nice cameo from Douglas Wilmer as Holmes, too.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by didi-5 »

Re Arthur Wontner - yes, The Missing Rembrandt is presumed lost, but four films remain. Ian Fleming (not that one) was Watson in most of the films, with the exception of The Sign of Four, which has the younger Ian Hunter, making the duo a bit like a father-son team rather than contemporary colleagues!

Re Brett - I actually like The Master Blackmailer, it is the only one of the feature lengths (IMO) which does work, and Robert Hardy is impressive as Milverton.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by andrew baker »

Mickey wrote:Yes, "The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" is a jolly good film. There's something about the way that Gene Wilder can transition from the barking mad to the genuinely serious, often in the same scene. Nice cameo from Douglas Wilmer as Holmes, too.
And an almost miraculous cameo from Wilmer in the last series of Sherlock. I could hardly believe my eyes!

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by penfold »

One day, one day, you'll all be able to see what survives of the Eille Norwood shorts-and-feature series of films made between '21 and '23..... while some are better than others, their inventive use of locations, the acting and the cinematography are excellent. They are set in the 20's, not in the Victorian era, though obviously not much had changed; so motorcars and powerboats co-exist with pony-and-traps and ladies on bicycles....the Reichenbach Falls are exchanged for Cheddar Gorge, just as picturesque and handier for the A3; the Maurice Elvey-directed Sign of Four concludes with a parallel chase by road and river to Wapping Wharf and takes in every tourist landmark in London; and in terms of adaptation and execution it's way ahead of the Brett TV version, much as I enjoy most of the series. And made in a shooting schedule that would have modern TV actors fainting at the prospect. 45 shorts and two features in about 2 1/2 years.....and the only series that can claim to have had the seal of approval from Conan Doyle himself. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0636385/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by brigham »

It seems most of them survive; a DVD release if ever there was. (Or Blu-Ray by now, one hopes). Andrew Lloyd Webber owned them at one time. I wonder if he plans on writing scores for just such a release?

I'll take a set.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
Mothy wrote:
ctraynor wrote:I like Sherlock (TV) - but why does everyone including Moriarty always have to be so young?
Holmes and Watson are only supposed to be in their 30s and 40s during the 1880s and 1890s though. Benedict Cumberbatch is 36 and Martin Freeman is 41, so they're well within the range really. If anything, Freeman is a bit older than Watson is during several of the stories. Of the others, Rupert Graves is 49, Andrew Scott is 36 and Mark Gatiss is 46. Sherlock is usually supposed to have been born in 1854, with Watson being a similar age, which means that several of the previous actors were probably somewhat older than the characters were meant to be, at least for some of the time.
A Study in Scarlet is set in 1881, when Holmes would have been 27, and Watson's only a couple of years older at the most.
Agreed, though 27 was older then than it is now, if that makes any sense!

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Post by Simon36 »

No one has mentioned Tom Baker and Terence Rigby yet. It has been discussed before I know. For my money, a beautiful adaptation, and some excellent music from Carl Davis. Lovely lovely photography of the moor and the best execution of the "man on the tor" sequence and of the portrait of Sir Hugo breakthrough (it's perfect, the picture is very sinister but not so you would notice the similarities to the villain unless you were Holmes). Some good performances too. Nicholas Woodeson is a good Sir Henry (in fact there was a good Sir Henry in the Brett one too, one of the only things I think that version got right.) The downside for me is the appalling hound and the two leads: Rigby is surreal in his woodenness, and Baker is all wrong. His Holmes is far too contrived.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by andrew baker »

As I've said before I still think Douglas Wilmer is the best Holmes. At school we all became Holmesians from that, aged 11 or so. I love Brett's Holmes but he is a bit too intense. I see Holmes as more livelyforceful and humorous.
The Wilmer shows are very cheap and hurried productions of course but his was by the best "Devils Foot". It terrified me in a good way in 1965 and still looks good - though neither version has the classic dilaogue something like this:

Holmes: I followed you.
Watson: I saw no-one.
Holmes: That is what you should expect to see when I follow you.

And The Bruce Partington Plans had accurate models on steam Underground trains - sadly the surviving chunk isn't on the BBC Region 1 DVD but I have seen a clip on a documentary recently.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

Having always loved Murder by Decree I was disappointed when I finally saw a clip from the HTV Silver Blaze Plummer played Holmes in. Has anyone seen the full thing? Hardly the liveliest Holmes story to dramatise as a one off...

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Simon36 »

Incidentally, seeing Brett on interviews and knowing how intensely he worked on the part and the damage it did to him made me think: would any actor in today's tv age ever go to such depths for a tv series?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

andrew baker wrote:And The Bruce Partington Plans had accurate models on steam Underground trains - sadly the surviving chunk isn't on the BBC Region 1 DVD but I have seen a clip on a documentary recently.
The surviving footage was something I pointed the producers in the direction of for the Arena documentary on the Underground in 2007. There had been a short clip used in a Holmes documentary a few years previously, but the Arena one is longer and the soundtrack isn't interrupted by a voice-over.
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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Simon36 wrote:Having always loved Murder by Decree I was disappointed when I finally saw a clip from the HTV Silver Blaze Plummer played Holmes in. Has anyone seen the full thing? Hardly the liveliest Holmes story to dramatise as a one off...
Only the other week I was pondering the lack of any VHS or DVD release of this. Looking on eBay, the only copy for sale was on 16mm, with teh American seller describing it as a "BBC" production. Arrgh!
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by ctraynor »

Simon36 wrote:Having always loved Murder by Decree I was disappointed when I finally saw a clip from the HTV Silver Blaze Plummer played Holmes in. Has anyone seen the full thing? Hardly the liveliest Holmes story to dramatise as a one off...
Agree about Murder by Decree. There were scenes set even in the daylight that were scary.

I saw Silver Blaze (Plummer version) on a Sunday night in 1977. Enjoyed watching it at the time but looking back it was probably no great shakes.

Still like to see Dr Watson and the Darkwater Hall Mystery, from Christmas 1974. The only bit I ever saw was a trailer at the time. I was too young to stay up to watch it.

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by David Buck »

It would be nice if Network did a Sherlock Holmes anthology release - "Silver Blaze", "Doctor Watson and the Darkwater Hall Mystery", possibly; the frankly dreadful; "the strange case of the end of civilization as we know it" - any other ITV items they could chuck on there ?

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

Post by andrew baker »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
andrew baker wrote:And The Bruce Partington Plans had accurate models on steam Underground trains - sadly the surviving chunk isn't on the BBC Region 1 DVD but I have seen a clip on a documentary recently.
The surviving footage was something I pointed the producers in the direction of for the Arena documentary on the Underground in 2007. There had been a short clip used in a Holmes documentary a few years previously, but the Arena one is longer and the soundtrack isn't interrupted by a voice-over.
I can't believe the BBC made the models specially. As I remember it was a proper Metropolitan loco like the one in the LT museum. I wonder where they came from?

As I've said before I wish they would use models or even CGI to get trains right. They are usually staggeringly wrong - like what to me was a 1940s engine in the Onedin Line. You might as well have had a spitfire flying overhead.

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