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Sherlock Holmes takes a vacation and visits his old friend Sir Henry Baskerville. His vacation ends when he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a double-murder mystery. Now he's got to find Professor Moriarty and the horse Silver Blaze before the great cup final horse race. Written by
Ivar Agøy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dedicated Sherlockians on both sides of the Atlantic used to regard Arthur Wontner as the definitive Holmes. Partly this was reaction against the Basil Rathbone films, with their serial-style WWII plots and the portrait of Watson as a lovably bumbling idiot; Rathbone was admired but the films were blasphemy. By comparison, Wontner's Holmes was visually the absolute picture of the Sidney Paget illustrations that accompanied the original stories in The Strand, and at least some of the six films (not all of which survive) were faithful adaptations of notable Holmes stories not otherwise filmed.
Then... along came Jeremy Brett (also the picture of the Paget illustrations), and it had to be admitted that the Wontner films were so cheaply made that they really had nothing going for them besides Wontner, and lacked the polish and entertainment value of even the Universal Bs in the Rathbone series. Next to Brett, also, Wontner's Holmes is if anything too genial; he lacks the suffer-no-fools snappishness that is an essential part of Holmes' character. (That's especially odd considering that that's exactly the sort of character Wontner plays in his best-known role outside this series, as an acerbic ambassador in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.) Silver Blaze (a short story padded out much like the Brett series episodes would be) is probably the best of the bunch, and remains watchable but, now, a minor chapter in the saga of Holmes on film next to better movies starring Holmeses such as Basil Rathbone, Robert Stephens, Christopher Plummer, Ian Richardson and, best of all, Jeremy Brett.
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