Monday, April 5, 2010

Holmes Revisited





A little over a year ago I posted 4 blogs (count’em) on Sherlock Holmes in print, on the radio, on the big screen, and on television. 


You can revisit these essays at the links below where you will find a good deal of historical information on more than a century of Sherlockian adventures.



Holmes Sweet Holmes Pt. 1
Sherlock Holmes On The Big Screen
Three Decades of Holmes On The Radio
Sherlock Holmes On The Small Screen


In the intervening 14 months the Internet Archive has increased its selection of Holmes related media, and so it would seem a good time to update this blog.


First, three more Sherlock Holmes movies.  


The first, The Sleeping Cardinal, was believed lost for many years but resurfaced after a 16mm print was found.   This is the first of five appearances by Arthur Wontner as  Sherlock Holmes, and features Ian Flemming (the actor, not the writer) as Dr. John Watson.

To call this movie dated would be a kindness, but it remains a fascinating early sound movie portrayal of the redoubtable Holmes. While stage bound and primitive by today’s (or even mid-1930s) standards, Wontner’s movies are considered among the best imaginings of Holmes and Watson.




Sherlock Holmes: The Sleeping Cardinal - Julius Hagen


You’ll find two other Arthur Wontner efforts in my previous blog Sherlock Holmes On The Big Screen.  


Wontner’s final entry into the series came in 1937, in Murder At The Baskervilles, which is based not on the Hound of the Baskervilles, but on the short story Silver Blaze.   The print is a bit faded on this version, but it is still watchable.



Murder At The Baskervilles - Julius Hagen



Although the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series produced by Universal Studios during the 1940s remains perhaps the best remembered incarnation of Holmes on the screen, there are many who regard these films as less-than-true to Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation.

Universal studios set the first two films (properly) in the Victorian era (The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) but revised the timeline to London of the 1940s for the remainder of the series.


While Sherlockphiles may argue the merits of the various movies and actors,  the Universal entries remain entertaining to watch.



The Woman in Green - Roy William Neill



The 39 episodes of Sherlock Holmes produced in 1954 by Sheldon Reynolds starred Ronald Howard (son of Leslie) and H. Marion-Crawford.    The entire series run is available on DVD, and can often be found in discount bins at Walmart and other stores.


I picked up mine for $6.   


While I’d seen a number of episodes a year ago, I’ve recently watched all 39.    These are genial, if not terribly complex, Holmes mysteries. With a run time of about 25 minutes, there really isn’t an abundance of time for plot development.

Still, I find them satisfying in a `mac & cheese’ comfort food sort of way.   Howard makes a pretty good Holmes, and Marion-Crawford is less irritating (and more capable) than the Nigel Bruce Watson.


Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Haunted Gainsborough

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Neurotic Detective

Sherlock Holmes in The Case of the Laughing Mummy
Sherlock Holmes in The Case of the Split Ticket
Sherlock Holmes - The Case of The Baker Street Bachelors

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Diamond Tooth

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Tyrant's Daughter

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Unlucky Gambler

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of Lady Beryl

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Belligerent Ghost 

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Cunningham Heritage 

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Pennsylvania Gun 

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Shy Ballerina

Sherlock Holmes - The Case of the Texas Cowgirl



To date, 14 of the 39 episodes are archived on the site.  I would expect more will show up over time.   You can check this link from time to time to see if any new shows are added.



And lastly, in 1951, three years before the Sheldon Reynolds series, there was a failed attempt to bring Holmes to the small screen in the UK.    


This pilot stars John Longden and Campbell Singer.  It is actually pretty good, and it is a pity the series wasn’t picked up. 



Sherlock Holmes - The Man Who Disappeared (Failed Pilot) -

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