The legendary sleuth continues to claim new fans year after year in both print and film. I for one number myself among those who have generally followed Holmes’ exploits before and after his incident with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.
The films have captured my attention since running through the Rathbone series on late night Public Television years ago. Imagine my delight at discovering Peter Cushing tackling the Hound for Hammer before the days of the internet where in many cases we youngsters of the era made these discoveries for ourselves.
The role has been played by so many actors throughout the years and yes when asked I do refer to Basil Rathbone as the definitive Holmes. Cushing is great and I also like to shine the light on Christopher Plummer’s take on the role as well from 1979’s Murder By Decree.
“You’ve a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I admire it so much I’d like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London Medical Society. ”
“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. ”
“My dear fellow, musical talent is hardly evidence of innocence. Moriarity was a virtuoso on the bassoon. ”
From Peter Cushing this line is so doubly effective. “Do you imagine that I can prevent the Powers of Darkness? ”
Having previously played Sir Henry Baskerville, Christopher Lee tackles the Holmes character himself this time out. Summon the Lee arrogance as you read this line “Don’t you ever read the Times, Watson? I’ve often advised you to do so, if you want to know something. ”
John Neville as Holmes gets the comic book treatment in this poster. “You know my methods, Watson, I am well known to be indestructable. ”
Mr. Plummer in this first rate thriller always had me wishing he had essayed the role more then the one time. “On the contrary. I prefer bad manners in the theater to active violence in the streets. ”
I started off with Rathbone though of course Holmes had already been played by many including John Barrymore during the silent era, Raymond Massy and Arthur Wontner. He’s been an easy mark for lampooning by the likes of Gene Wilder in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. Nicol Williamson had success with the pipe in The Seven Per Cent Solution.
Television has offered us numerous portraits of the character. Actors like Ronald Howard, Peter Cushing once again, Stewart Granger and Roger Moore. Many look to Jeremy Brett as a definitive choice. Even Charlton Heston took the role in The Crucifer of Blood……… cue the Heston cameo please.
One parting Rathbone poster. “I smell the faint sweet odor of blackmail! ”