Sherlock Holmes (2009)

I had been looking forward to this movie for a long time. I heard a lot of negative reviews. People were saying that it really wasn’t a Sherlock Holmes movie. I have to say that I just thought the movie was fair. Robert Downey Jr. really didn’t play Sherlock Holmes. He did have a friend named Dr. Watson, but Dr. Watson was engaged. He also lived at 221B Baker Street. He plucked the violin a little bit. He was good at making deductions, although this part was underplayed. And he had an adversary/lover named Irene Adler.
This Sherlock was mostly a physical hero. He knew some form of karate and was fighting people for large portions of the movie. There was also something goofy about the character as portrayed by Downey, and Sherlock was definitely not goofy. The story was kind of convoluted and again looking to tap into the Da Vinci Code conspiracy themes.
I thought the look of the movie was really good. The street scenes, the room interiors and the House of Commons were really well done.
Overall I thought the movie was just OK. It could have been much better. I hope the sequel in 2012, where Sherlock meets Moriarty, is more faithful to the Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes..

Murder by Decree (1979)

Murder

Holmes : Christopher Plummer
Watson : James Mason

“When people are frightened, they turn to God, and when they have no help from him, they look to the Devil.” – Holmes

There is no doubt that this movie had the best production values of all the Sherlock Holmes movies made up to this point. Dark, cloudy London streets open up the movie with eerie music playing in the background. Holmes and Watson are in a box waiting for a play to begin. They are waiting for the Prince of Wales to arrive. Watson manages to get off a joke about Lestrade in the movie’s first minute. When the Prince arrives he is booed as much as he is cheered; he is not a very discreet man.

But there is a monster out on the street, strangling women with his bare hands. This is the third women killed in Whitechapel. Holmes wonders why he hasn’t been asked in on the case. A citizens committee comes to 221B and asks Holmes to get involved. Meanwhile another murder occurs with the women being carried from the carriage in plain site of the driver. Something is not right. Holmes is chased away from the murder scene by Sir Charles from Scotland Yard.

An anonymous informer tells Holmes where he can get information on the Ripper murders from Robert Lees (Donald Sutherland), a medium. We then see the Ripper dispose of the informer. A pretty creepy Robert Lees claims to have seen Jack the Ripper in his visions.

Mary Kelly tells Holmes of a child in her cars and of the child’s mother, Annie Crook. Annie Crook (Genevive Bujold), has been committed to an insane asylum. She hasn’t spoken a word in six months and Sir Charles was instrumental in her committal. We find out that her and “Eddy’s” baby has been entrusted to Mary Kelly, who everyone seems to be looking for.

Holmes searches for Mary and finds he, a bloody corpse, with two men cutting her up. Holmes, recognizing the men, is startled and is struck down with a red hot poker. Watson comes to the rescue but he is wounded too. Holmes chases after the men. One is in a trance like state – totally out of it. Holmes leaves him and chases the other – the man with the sword and after a fierce battle causes his death.

The rest of the movie kind of wraps up what actually happened. The Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and Holmes go over the story of what happened. The heir to the throne had a child with a lower class women and a Catholic at that. The child became the target of those thinking they were helping and supporting the Crown. The helpers searched through Whitehall for the child, bringing along with them the myth of Jack the Ripper, by those hoping to disguise their work as that of a madman.

Plummer and Mason did a great job as Holmes and Watson, I loved Mason’s intelligent Watson in particular, although I will always love Nigel Bruce. The movie was a little talky and the Robert Lees character probably hurt the movie more than it helped it but overall, a really good Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

Young

Holmes : Nicholas Rowe
Dr. Watson : Alan Cox


  In the first scene a dart from a blow gun hits a man in the neck on the snowy London streets, He soon suffers from delusion that his dinner, a pheasant is attacking him. The delusions continue at home and he jumps out the window, killing himself.


  The scene shifts to the young Sherlock playing the violin in his dorm room who is just meeting his new room mate John Watson. Holmes is sort of a local legend at school. Precocious, egotistical and talented. Meanwhile another dart murder takes place.


  Sherlock finds about the deaths and thinks they are connected bit Mr. Lestrade doesn’t. A jealous fellow student, Dudley, sets up Sherlock as a cheater and he is kicked out of school. He is going to regret leaving his friend Elizabeth behind. Watson is outraged.


   Holmes friend and mentor, Professor Waxflatter  who also is Elizabeth’s uncle gets hit with a dart next. His delusions attack him too and he stabs himself to death fighting them off. Holmes is really involved in the case now. Watson finds the fall gun that someone has dropped at the scene.


 As Sherlock and Watson investigate the blow gun they find it is hooked to some followers of an Egyptian god. The followers use a blow gum gun that uses thorns that are dipped into a hallucinogenic. In a scene very reminiscent of the one in Gunga Din, Holme Watson and Elizabeth look out onto a cult  ceremony inside of a temple. People are being wrapped as mummies while evryone chants. Just like Cary Grant in Gunga, Sherlock sneaks down for a closer look. He screams to save the newly wrapped person who is still alive and is quickly pursued by everyone. Dodging darts they make their way out but all of them have been hit. All three start having hallucinations in a grave yard but make their way out.


  Holmes tries to get Lestrade to help but he won’t. Holmes finds a picture in Waxflatter’s room that has a picture of all the murdered men, except one. Professor Rathe, another of Sherlock’s mentors, intervenes and tells Holmes and Watson that they must leave the college.


  Holmes continues the investigation. He identifies the surviving man, Mr. Cragwitch. he finds him and asks him why the cult has killed five men. Cragwitch tells the story. All five were partners in a venture to build a luxury hotel in Egypt. While digging they found the underground tombs of five princesses which they looted. The local villagers protested but the village was burnt to the ground by British troops. While telling his story Cragwitch gets hit with a thorn. 


  While investigating at her uncle’s Elizabeth discovers that Professor Rathe is up to no good. Rathe takes were to be the fifth princess in the reburying ceremony the cult is planning. In the meantime Holmes figures out that Rathe is the culprit. He is off to save Elizabeth. Holmes saves the day but as he is leaving Rathe takes a shot at him that kills Eizabeth.


  Geared for kids the movie is just OK. It is too talky for kids and too juvenile for adults. It had great production values (it was produced by Stephen Spielberg), but the writing and acting was only fair.

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)

Sherbro
Sherlock Holmes : Douglas Wilmer
Dr. Watson : Thorley Walters
Sigerson Holmes : Gene Wilder
Moriarty : Leo McKern

Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman take on the Sherlock Holmes story. Sherlock wasn’t in this movie too often but his younger brother, Sigerson (Gene Wilder) was. The movie opens with Sherlock and Watson discussing a problem given to them by the Queen to solve. National security is at stake. While Sherlock is gone he is gone he passes on some less important cases to his younger brother, Sigerson.
Sherlock just pretends to leave but sends Sgt. Orville Stanley Sacker (Marty Felder) to talk to his brother. Sigerson calls his brother “Sheer Luck” Holmes. When Sigerson starts doing the Kangaroo Hop with Jenny Hill and Orville they begins to lose their audience (me).
Sigerson tries to help Jenny with the problems she is having. When Sigerson saves the day, Sherlock gets the credit. Sigerson is not so pleased. As the movie goes on it gets worse and worse. poorly written, poorly directed and poorly acted. When someone watching the play breaks the third wall and turns and asks the audience “Is this rotten or wonderfully brave?” you want to scream your answer at him. Rotten!
Gene Wilder is a very funny actor when he is working for another director and writer. When he has written for and directed himself the results have not been pretty. In Mel Brooks hands he was a comic genius (Young Frankenstein, The Producers), in his own hands he is not so good.

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)

Voice

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

“Germany broadcasting. Germany broadcasting. People of Britain. Greetings from the Third Reich. This is the voice you have learned to fear. This is the Voice of Terror. Again we bring you disaster, crushing humiliating disaster. It is folly to stand against the mighty wrath of the Fuhrer. Do you need more testimony of his invincible might to bring you to your knees?”

He foretells of acts of doom and gloom. Acts of sabotage are predicted and called for by the Voice. The Ministry calls Sherlock Holmes for help with the Voice of Terror. Sherlock gets the members of the criminal class, stirred by patriotism, to help out (somewhat reminiscent of M). They actually save him from some German agents, along with Dr. Watson. There is a good scene of Sherlock playing the violin, and playing it quite well. Sherlock knows there is a leak in the Council, but who is it? The Voice gets on the radio again and says that Germany will strike England on their weakest coast, tomorrow morning. The council wants to move supplies to shore up where they think the attack will be. Holmes knows that it is a diversion.

Holmes captures the German agent, Meade. There was going to be an invasion of Nazi agents. Holmes has thwarted it. Holmes knows the Voice of Terror was one of the Council. Holmes identifies Sir Evan Barham as the Voice of Terror. Holmes has figured out that the real Sir Even had been replaced years ago by a German agent. Holmes has outwitted the Germans and destroyed the invasion force. Holmes has saved England. Holmes closes out the movie with one of his patriotic speeches :

Holmes : There’s an east wind coming, Watson.
Dr. Watson : No, I don’t think so. Looks like another warm day.
Holmes : Good ol’ Watson. The one fixed point in the changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same. Sush a wind has never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson. And a good many of us may whither before its blast. But its God’s own wind nonetheless and a greener, better, stronger, land that will lie in the sunshine when the storm is cleared.

The House of Fear (1945)

House

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

“Murder is an insidious thing. Once a man has dipped his fingers in blood, sooner or later he’ll feel the urge to kill again.”

Sherlock and Dr. Watson head to Scotland to investigate the murders of the members of a club, where the surviving members inherit the insurance policy of the deceased.

When a member is delivered a message containing orange pips, he does not have much time left on earth. As Sherlock investigates the murders continue. Poison needles, poisoned drinks, envelopes with pips delivered to members, a body with no arms, legs or heads. The envelope is delivered under the door while all the members are at the table.

Everyone comes to dread the housekeeper walking in to the dining room to deliver a note. Finally there are only two members left of the Good Comrades Club. Dr. Watson investigates some crashing noises. He shoots out windows, a man in in armor and almost shoots a cat, all the while talking to himself. Later, while digging a grave of one of the murdered members Watson has a conversation with an owl who keeps saying Who? Watson keeps answering him, thinking he is talking to Holmes. Meanwhile the coffin is empty.

After one more murder, there is only one club member left. Alastair must be the murderer and Lestrade arrests him. However as they investigate they discover that all the club members are alive. Alastair was to be the dupe.

The six members were convicted and Lestrade was given credit. The insurance company was happy with the work Holmes had done for them.

Overall this entry in the series, was just OK.

The Pearl of Death (1944)

PearlHolmes : Basil Rathbone
Dr. Watson : Nigel Bruce

“This man pervades Europe like a plague, yet no one has heard of him. That’s what puts him on the pinnacle in the records of crime. … In his whole diabolical career, the police have never been able to pin anything on him. And yet, if there be a crime without a motive, I’ll show you Giles Conover! … If I could free society of this sinister creature, I should feel my own career had reached it’s summit.”

This was the ninth film in the Rathbone/Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes films, was inspired by the Conan Doyle story “The Adventures of the Six Napoleons.” In the first scene of the movie we see the giant pearl. It is quickly stolen from the courier of the Royal Museum, Naomi Drake has stolen it. She meets Giles Conover when she gets off the boat. He tells her that The Creeper is back at the flat

When she goes to show him the Pearl she sees a note from Sherlock Holmes, saying that he is returning the Borgia Pearl for her.

Sherlock, back at Baker Street, tells Watson that the Pearl is as “Real as death old fellow. With the blood of twenty men upon it down through the centuries.” He then tells Watson about Naomi Drake and Giles Conover.

Sherlock doesn’t feel good about the security at the museum. As he is shows the museum staff how easy it is to disconnect the wired alarms to the Pearl, the Pearl is stolen. The museum blames Holmes for this tragedy. Lestrade enjoys the turn of events and kid an unamused Holmes and Watson about it. The police capture Conover but he doesn’t have the Pearl on him. Lestade detains Conover and Holmes suggests that Conover be allowed to receive food from the outside, by which he will try to send a message back out to his confederates as to where the Pearl is.

Pearl2

As Holmes plays the violin back at Baker Street the message does get out. Watson is mad that once again, Holmes fiddles, while his reputation crumbles. Watson has punched a newspaper man who cast wrote badly about Holmes. When Lestade stops by to tell them Conover has been released he tells them about a murder of a man who has had his back broke. Holmes immediately knows what it means. The Oxton Horrow has returned. “A monster Watson with a chest of a buffalo and the arms of a gorilla. His particular method of murder is back braking and it’s always the same, the third lumbar vertebrae.” When the Creeper, played by Rondo Hatton (who would reprise this role three more times in non-Holmes movies before his death two years later) comes on the screen late in the movie, it is something of a shock.

There is a great scene where Watson tries to impress a disguised Giles Conover with his deductive abilities. Conover leaves a booby trapped book for Holmes. When Holmes returns he smells a cigar and then analyzes the ashes of the Cuban cigar. He knows that the visitor was Conover and he sets off the booby trap.

Another murder, another victim with a back broken, and smashed china all around the body, again. Why the smashed china? Another murder, another broken back, more smashed china. Holmes analyzes the china and recognizes statues of Napolean in all three murders. Holmes investigates and finds that there were six busts of Napolean in a shop near Conover’s escape and he must have hidden the Pearl in one of them. Holmes can account for five of the busts but discovers the location of the sixth. Holmes soons discover that the address is a forgery – someone has changed it. Naomi Drake calls Conover but Holmes listens in and gets the real information. We also get our first glimpse of the Creeper, in the shadows with Conover.

Holmes has Naomi Drake taken into custody. With ten minutes to go in the movie we finally see the Creeper. He accompanies Conover to the house where the sixth bust is.Holmes is already there and in disguise. Holmes tells the Creeper that it is Conover’s fault that Naomi, who the Creeper loves, has been caught. With five minutes to go in the movie we finally see the Creeper in the light. The Creeper turns on Conover and breaks his back. Holmes shoots and kills the mute Creeper as he advances on him.

Holmes ending dialogue references the greed in the world (not mentioning Napolean or Hitler but clearly pointing at them).

Holmes : The Borgia Pearl with the blood of five more victims on it.

Watson : Well anyhow Conover is one of them.

Holmes : What’s Conover. No more than the symbol of the greed and cruelty and lust for power that have set men at each other’s throats down through the centuries and the struglle will go on Watson for a pearl, a kingdom, perhaps even world dominion till the greed and cruelty have burned out every last one of us and when that time comes perhaps even the pearl will be washed clean again.

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)

Death

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Dr. Watson : Nigel Bruce

Dr. Watson : “Simple reasoning, a child could do it.”
Holmes : “Not your child, Watson.”
Dr. Watson ” What? I never had a child.”


Dr. Watson is serving as resident doctor at Musgrave Hall in Northumberland, a stately home which is also used as a hospital for a number of officers suffering from shell shock.


   Watson enlists the help of Holmes after his assistant is attacked. Inspector Lestrade also arrives after the first in a series of murders which seem to be tied up with an ancient and apparently meaningless family ritual. Sally must recite the centuries-old ritual over her murdered brother’s body. Holmes realizes that the words (queen, bishop, king, knight) in the ritual describe movements of chess pieces, which are in fact clues to the location of something. Since the black and white floor of the main hall resembles a chess board, Holmes has the rest of the household move as human chess pieces.


   He then goes in to the cellar beneath where the last move landed him and finds the crypt of a knight, Ralph Musgrave, in which is hidden an ancient land grant signed by King Henry I. Also in the tomb is the body of the butler. Holmes devises a plan to lure the killer back to the tomb later that evening. He lets the murderer get the upper hand on him so that he will confess to the murders. He faces death to get the confession.


Dr. John H. Watson: We thought you were taking an awful risk.
Sherlock Holmes: Well, we had to have a confession. And these egomaniacs are always so much more chatty when they feel they have the upper hand.


    Holmes then fakes his own death and allows the killer to leave — but he walks right into the hands of Lestrade and his policemen.


   By the time the mystery is solved, Sally Musgrave, who could be one of richest people in England, has decided to give her property back to the people who are living on it. This sets up another of Holmes’ great patriotic curtain speeches.


Sherlock Holmes: There’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of grab and greed are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we *owe* the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time is coming, Watson, when we shan’t be able to fill our bellies in comfort while the other fellow goes hungry, or sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold. And we shan’t be able to kneel and thank God for blessings before our shining altars while men anywhere are kneeling in either physical or spiritual subjection.
Dr. John H. Watson: You may be right, Holmes… I hope you are.
Sherlock Holmes: And, God willing, we’ll live to see that day, Watson.


   Overall a good movie with an interesting chess theme and a good scene of Holmes being shot to death (with an empty gun).




Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)


Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

A secret document that is being transported from England to the US by an English agent is intercepted and Holmes and Watson join in the chase to find the document before it falls into the wrong hands.

Watson reads a book on American mannerisms on the flight over and is soon using slang, chewing gum and drinking milk shakes.

Following a matchbook that has Holmes has figured out has the microfilm in it, Holmes travels around antique shops in Washington, DC, looking for clues. When he finally finds the bad guys he is saved by Watson who comes crashing through the doors with the police. Watson actually shoots and kills one of them.

Not a great plot but enjoyable to watch. Particularly interesting to see DC in 1943. After this movie, the Rathbone series never made it back to America,

Sherlock Holmes: This is a great country, Watson.
Dr. John H. Watson: It certainly is, my dear fellow.
Sherlock Holmes: Look. Up there ahead. The Capitol – the very heart of this democracy.
Dr. John H. Watson: Democracy – the only hope for the future, eh, Holmes?
Sherlock Holmes: It is not given for us to peer into the mysteries of the future. But in the days to come, the British and American people for their own safety and the good of all will walk together in majesty and in justice and in peace.
Dr. John H. Watson: That’s magnificent. I quite agree with you.
Sherlock Holmes: Not with me. With Mr. Winston Churchill. I was quoting from the speech he made not long ago in that very building.

The Spider Woman (1944)

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

The movie opens up with the newspapers on the London streets reporting the current rash of “Pyjama Suicides.” Where is Sherlock Holmes people are asking. He is in Scotland fly fishing with Watson.

Watson: I’d say hadn’t we better get back to London at once with all this murder afoot?
Holmes : I’m sorry, Watson, the pleasure of the chase are no longer for me. I’m through with crime now and forever.
Watson : You, you don’t mean that.
Holmes : Yes, unfortunately.
Watson : But why?
Holmes : Watson I have a confession to make to you. I’m no longer equal to it. Lately I’ve been subject to the most alarming dizzy spells.

When Holmes faints and falls in the river, the death of Sherlock Holmes in broadcast in all the papers. Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson sadly reminiscence about Sherlock. Sherlock walks in disguised as a messenger. He says some negative things about Sherlock and Watson punches him in the face.

Sherlock explains why he faked his death :

Sherlock Holmes: Directing them is one of the most fiendishly clever minds in all Europe today. I suspect a woman.
Dr. John H. Watson: You amaze me, Holmes. Why a woman?
Sherlock Holmes: Because the method, whatever it is, is particularly subtle and cruel. Feline, not canine.
Inspector Lestrade: Popycock. When a bloke does himself in, that’s suicide.
Sherlock Holmes: Unless a bloke is driven to suicide; in that case it’s murder.
Dr. John H. Watson: Driven? That *sounds* like a woman, doesn’t it?
Sherlock Holmes: Definitely – a female Moriarty. Clever. Ruthless. And above all, cautious.

“If we are to set a trap for this femme fatale I see no reason why we shouldn’t bait it with the kind of food she likes.” Holmes says. He sees a pattern that all those committing suicide are gamblers. So he puts a blurb in the paper about a new arrival from India. Sherlock shows up at the gaming tables with a turban and a beard. He is met by the Spider Woman, Adrea Spedding. When he loses at the table she offers him a loan if he will “temporarily” name her as beneficiary of his life insurance policy.

It doesn’t take The Spider Woman, played by Gale Sondergaard , too long to figure out who he really is and she is soon plotting his real death. A huge spider makes its way in through the window and towards Holmes’ bed. Holmes smashes it before it reaches the dummy he had in the bed. This is how the suicides have been committed.

When a spider expert shows up in a beard and glasses Watson thinks it is Holmes in disguise and tries to pull off his beard.

Adrea Spedding comes to visit Holmes. She says she wants Holmes help to find Rajni Singh, who was the character Holmes played. It is a game of cat and mouse and they both know it. “Till we meet again.” “Soon I hope.” While she was there she poisoned both of them and then started a fire in their place. But Holmes drags Watson out and saves them both.

Holmes : Watson, if you ever see me getting too sure again, fancying myself more clever then Adrea Spedding. Just whisper one word to me.
Watson : What word, Holmes?
Holmes : Pigmy

The movies last scene are at a side show as Holmes searches for his pigmy. Holmes finds the Spider Woman. Holmes takes some shots at the shooting gallery at Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini. The Spider Woman and her henchmen capture Holmes. They tie him up and put him behind the Hitler billboard at the shooting gallery. Lestrade and Watson are getting ready to take a turn shooting. A great scene. The irony of it with Watson about to kill Holmes. Holmes escapes and captures

Watson : Holmes where have you been all this time.
Holmes : I’ve been going round and round in a circle.
Watson : A circle?
Holmes : Yes but my heart wasn’t in it.

The movie only runs 63 minutes, but it is really good. Probably the best of the Rathbone series.

The Scarlet Claw (1944)

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

The movie starts very much like The Hound of the Baskervilles. There is something that is out there. The music is eerie. Two sheep have had their throats torn out. Soon the Lady Penrose is found dead. Luckily Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are in Canada at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Occult Society.
One hundred years ago there were murders at La Morte Rouge and now they are starting again. Holmes gets a letter from the dead woman who had a premonition of her death. Holmes comments to Watson, “Consider the tragic irony: we’ve accepted a commission from a victim to find her murderer. For the first time we’ve been retained by a corpse.”
Holmes and Watson begin the investigation without the help of the husband, who quickly becomes a suspect. Watson gets drunk with the locals at the pub. He fills them in on his detective abilities. When he finds Holmes is out on marsh by himself he rushes to join him (where he falls into a bog), Meanwhile Holmes sees glowing creature running across moor and fires at it. He finds a glowing piece of cloth.
We find out that the psychopath killer is a former actor, playing a variety of roles in town. He uses a claw to kill his victims. He had been in love with the Lady Penrose. He corners Holmes at gun point but a bumbling Watson again saves the day,
An excellent movie.

The war time movie ends with the following exchange :
Sherlock Holmes: Relations of friendly intimacy with the United States on the one hand and their unswerving fidelity to the British commonwealth and the motherland on the other. Canada, the link which joins together these great branches of the human family.
Dr. John H. Watson: Churchill say that?
Sherlock Holmes: Yes, Watson, Churchill.

Without a Clue (1988)

withclue

Holmes : Michael Caine
Watson : Ben Kingsley
Moriarty : Paul Freeman

Gentlemen I accept this case. My fee will be five hundred pounds — payable in ten pound notes.”

Dr. Watson is a brilliant criminologist but he was interested in getting into a prestigious medical society so he hires an actor, Reginald Kincaid, to play detective for him. Reginald, who takes on the role of Sherlock Holmes and gets famous as Watson writes the stories for Strand Magazine, is a drunkard, a gambler and a womanizer. The first half of the movie is really good as Holmes plays the role and Watson roles his eyes at him.
Michael Caine does his usual great job at playing the drunk and Ben Kingsley does a good job playing the frustrated Watson, who would like to get rid of his creation but cannot. There are a lot of good lines in the first half of the movie as Sherlock and Watson battle more than they partner.

Holmes: As a matter of fact, Lestrade, You can be some help.
Inspector Lestrade: Of course!
Holmes: Hold my coat, it’s hot in here.

Holmes: Ah, gentlemen. And what can I do for you? A mystery to be solved?
Thug: You might say that. There’s a little matter of a gambling debt, and the mystery is why you ain’t paid it.

Watson: Holmes believes your father has been abducted.
Leslie: Abducted? By who?
Sherlock Holmes: Abductors

Unfortunately, the second half of the movie is nowhere is good as the first. Sherlock steps up to help Watson battle Moriarty but the story and the writing descends into mediocrity.
The first half of the movie which is a comedy works really well, the second half which is more of a mystery isn’t as good. Still, overall a pretty good movie with two great actors. Needs to be seen by Sherlock Holmes fans.

Terror by Night (1946)

terror

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

Sherlock and Dr. Watson guard the Star of Rhodesia from being stolen on a train. A disciple of the late Professor Moriarty, Colonel Sebastian Moran is the who is villain after it.
On the train there are a lot of people who look suspicious but the Colonel is the one you would least suspect. There are a lot of dead bodies but Holmes doesn’t really get a chance to do too much.
Not too much action, not much of a mystery. Not one of my favorites in the series.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

sher

Holmes : Peter Cushing
Watson : Andre Morell

A good version of the story with an opening sequence that shows Sir Hugo Baskerville murdering a young girl which brings down the curse on the family. Peter Cushing plays a pretty good Sherlock and Andre Morell plays a serious Dr. Watson.
The production values for the story were good. The costumes and sets were bright and colorful. Christopher Lee does a good job playing Sir Henry Baskerville.
The story does seems to veers more towards horror than it does towards mystery and is different than most Sherlock Holmes movies.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

hound

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce

The first of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, and one of the best. In this movie we are introduced to Holmes with the deerstalker hat, the violin, the disguises and the ability to tell things about a person by just looking at something they owned. We are also introduced to Dr. Watson, who is not bumbling here, but more faithful to the character portrayed in the books.
The movie is fairly faithful to the book and takes place on the moors of Devonshire. The plot is simple but as in most of the movies in this genre the fun is watching Holmes and Watson.
The last line of the movie, “Oh, Watson, the needle! “, was supposedly edited out in many early versions of the movie

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

private
4 Stars

Holmes : Robert Stephens
Watson : Colin Blakely
Mycroft : Christopher Lee

This has to be the best of all the Sherlock Holmes movies. Directed by the great Billy Wilder, this movie brings us the iconic Holmes, playing the violin, smoking his pipe and reaching for his needle in times of pain and boredom. It showed the private life of Holmes, the life that didn’t make it into the pages of Strand magazine.

It showed a Holmes who was human, but it also remained faithful to the Arthur Conan Doyle character. It showed us a Holmes who had been disappointed in love. He says to Watson, “You’ve given the reader the distinct impression that I am a misognist. Actually, I don’t dislike women, I merely distrust them.”

The movie had an interesting, twisting plot with a nice part for Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes. It also had midgets, canaries, monks, the Queen and the Loch Ness monster.

But most interestingly it had an vulnerable Holmes, outsmarted by a woman who he seems to fall in love with.

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)

weapon

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce
Moriarty : Lionel Atwil

Sherlock battles the Nazis in this propaganda war film made in 1942. Sherlock starts out the movie in disguise as an itinerant bookseller.

A Swiss inventor of a bomb sight for airplanes, which may change the course of the war, is rescued from the Nazis and then protected by Holmes and Watson.

Watson, for all his buffoonery, saves Holmes again by observing how heavy a trunk two men were carrying was. He also inadvertently provides the clue that cracks the secret code.

Lionel Atwill makes a great Professor Moriarty.

I love the patriotic endings to these movies. One can only imagine how the English audience felt in 1942.

Dr. Watson: “Things are looking up, Holmes. This little Island’s still on the map.”
Sherlock Holmes: “Yes. “This fortress – built by nature for herself; This blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this England.”

The Women in Green (1945)

green

Holmes : Basil Rathbone
Watson : Nigel Bruce
Moriarty : Henry Daniell

Another very good entry in the Rathbone – Bruce partnership. Henry Daniell made for a very good Moriarty (although the screen credits spelled it Moriarity).

Dr. Watson again plays for the part of comic relief. He wasn’t much help in solving this one.

Inspector Grgeson : What’s the lady look like?
Holmes : About 30, nice figure, blonde hair, lustrious eyes.
Watson : Really, got her phone number?

This movie didn’t have much of a plot but there was hypnotism, drugs, cut off fingers and blackmail. And there was Professor Moriarty. Holmes did some of his iconic things – he played the violin and smoked his pipe.

Holmes doesn’t show much pity for the Professor who seemingly dies again :

Watson : “An evil man Holmes, but what a horrible death.”
Holmes : “Better than he deserved.”


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Dressed to Kill (1946)

dressed

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.


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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

adventure

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.
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.”
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.
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.

Sherlock : Case of Evil (2002)

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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  that wasn’t too much fun to see. 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.