With Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows set for release this December you have plenty of time to brush up on the great detective and his trusty partner Dr Watson. Only problem is that in his 124 year history, Holmes is one of, if not the, most portrayed fictional character of all time - so where to start? Luckily you readers I have compiled a list of the 10 must see Sherlock Holmes Interpretations.
10. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)Ill start with this underrated and often overlooked entry from executive producer Steven Spielberg and writer Chris Columbus (who went on to direct Home Alone and the first two Harry Potter pictures). This original adventure which re-imagines Holmes and Watson as teenagers who meet at boarding school and team up to solve a mystery involving a spate of murders around London. Intended to kick off a franchise, this movie, while not based on any of Doyles stories, was ignored upon its initial release which is a shame. Its a great introduction for kids into Sherlocks world and for major fans there are plenty of Easter eggs and homages to other iterations sprinkled throughout the movie. Nicholas Rowe and Alan Cox as Sherlock and Watson respectively, have a good chemistry together and do an adequate job, given their relative inexperience to acting before scoring these roles. The films greatest strength lies in its tragic reasoning behind why Holmes has issues as an adult when it comes to relationships with women and letting people get close to him.
9. The Seven Per-cent Solution (1976)A truly inspired tale, this movie is not based on any from the Holmes canon, but on Nicholas Meyers novel which teams Sherlock Holmes teams up with world renowned psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud at the behest of Dr. Watson in an effort to curb his cocaine addiction. Its a bizarre pairing, a fictional character getting treatment from a real life doctor, yet somehow it all comes together. Nicol Williamson plays Holmes as a slightly disturbed individual, especially when it comes to his rivalry with Moriarty, which is presented in a refreshingly different light here. Alan Arkin is a great Freud and Robert Duvall is hardly recognisable as Watson. The great Lawrence Olivier plays Moriarty, but as Ive already hinted, not everything is as it seems with the character. Im surprised this hasnt been adapted into a stage play as its a very compelling character study. Although difficult to track down it is definitely worth watching if you can get your hands on it.
8. A Study in Terror (1965)A Study in Terror boasts a great plot - Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper. Set in the streets of foggy old London this is a very enjoyable romp, and although it is a mystery thriller it can also be considered a slasher movie. John Neville is not a very convincing Holmes, rather than become the character he just seems to be doing an impression of the detective throughout the movie. However, this is forgivable seeing as how this is just a low budget B-Movie, and at 90 minutes the movie zips by at such a brisk pace for you to have too much of an issue with his performance. The plot was reused in the 1979 movie Murder by Decree, which took itself more seriously and had a much better production value. That being said I would place A Study in Terror above Murder by Decree because Decree is a Ripper film with Holmes in it, while Terror is a Holmes film with Jack the Ripper in it. Its a straightforward popcorn flick, and with such an off the wall, entertaining premise like that - its what youd expect!
7. Ronald Howard Sherlock Holmes TV Series (1954-1955)This 1954 TV series featured a total of 31 half hour episodes and is memorable for its slightly less tortured Holmes and (for the most part) original stories. With Howard Marion-Crawford as his Watson. Ronald Howard stars as a far more upbeat Holmes who loves the excitement and thrill of the hunt. He is very friendly and far more sociable than Holmes was ever portrayed. Its a nice break for the character and fits with the innocence of this show. A handful of episodes are based on Doyles stories, but the majority of the cases are original and bafflingly bizarre. Its hardly a classic, but its a fun and at times, humorous change of pace.
6. Sherlock Holmes (2009)Im quiet torn with my opinion on Guy Ritchies 2009 effort which sees Robert Downey Jr as Holmes and Jude Law as his fateful friend Watson. Downey Jr and Law have a great chemistry, the banter between them is extraordinary and Ritchie really knows how to stage an action sequence. On the other hand, these characters seem only to be related to Doyles creation by name only. Holmes and Watson are more action heroes than detectives. Plus, Downey Jrs Holmes is just as bumbling as Nigel Bruces Watson in the 1940s Universal series. I would have rather it was played a little more straight and that a better balance was found between the action and the mystery. The film has an uneven tone but it does score high as it is a decent introduction to non-fans to the world of Holmes. Many people who are unfamiliar with the character of Holmes seem to fob him off as a past his sell by date, and an out of touch character who, to them, appears to be pretty boring. This film is made for those people, not for Sherlockians. Hopefully it will convert a few people into fans who will then pick up one of the books and see what all the fuss is about.
5. Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)Hound of the Baskervilles has been adapted more times than any other Holmes story. This version stands out from the crowd, being a Hammer production. It is an interesting gothic and macabre take on the classic story by the famous British horror studio. Peter Cushing plays Holmes, who sent to Devon to protect Sir Henry Baskerville played by Christopher Lee. The two legendary horror actors bring a great weight to this tale and director Terrance Lee, who directed many Hammer Dracula movies with Cushing and Lee, was very well capable of putting his own mark on the story. Interestingly, this movie is also famous for being the first Sherlock movie in Technicolor.
4. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)In 1970 legendary Hollywood director Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment, Some Like it Hot) put his own remarkable stamp on the great detective. The premise for the movie is genius, it deals with the true Sherlock Holmes, the tortured, lonely soul who is the basis for Watsons outlandish publications for Strand Magazine. In this movie Holmes makes mistakes, falls in love and deals with his both his cocaine addiction and accusations of being homosexual. Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely are a good double act as our dynamic duo, but this is not a star vehicle, its Wilders movie all the way.
3. Sherlock (2010)
Picture this: Holmes and Watson updated for the 21st century, developed by the man behind the current incarnation of Dr. Who and starring Tim from the Office as Watson. Youd be forgiven for thinking nothing good could come from this, on paper it sounds very dodgy.Thankfully, upon viewing, it is actually the most thrilling, exciting and unpredictable version of Holmes in the characters 124 year history, outside of the original books. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman bring a great chemistry to the screen and naturally bounce off each other so well that youd swear that they were playing these roles for years. The modern day update, whip sharp dialogue, clever plotting and a very vicious take on Moriarty make this must see Holmes. This is quiet a feat seeing as it has only aired 3 episodes so far. A second series is set to arrive on BBC later this year.We shall see how this show progresses, its one to watch and who knows, if the quality remains this high, in a few years it could be on its way to become the greatest adaptation of Holmes.