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Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Lee) and Dr Watson (Thorley Walters)
investigate the theft of Cleopatra's necklace that was uncovered by
archaeologists in Egypt.
The ingredients for a good movie were all here. Christopher Lee as Holmes, Thorley Walters as Dr Watson and director Terence Fisher who did a superb version of "The Hound Of The Baskervilles" in 1959 was brought in to direct. Some consider the latter to be the best ever Sherlock Holmes film. It was certainly a strong contender for this and it was one of Hammer's finest hours, but alas, this low budget German production was a disaster from the word go. The storyline wasn't worthy of Conan Doyle and the music score which varies between jazz and pop robbed the film of any atmosphere. And to make matters worse the voices of Christopher Lee and Thorley Walters were dubbed by second rate English actors because the producer didn't want to fly in Lee and Walters from Germany for just one day in order to do the dubbing. The film has some historical interest for the amount of talent involved and the art director did a first class Baker Street set, but apart from that this is a very unwatchable dud and in Lee's own words in an interview "...deadly is the word."
I had my doubts about this film when I bought it, at the time I had
become fan of Sherlock Holmes because of TV- series starring Jeremy
Brett. Before that I had seen only few Basil Rathbone movies, which
were enjoy ables but not as great as Brett's work. But I had to see
Christopher Lee as Sherlock Holmes.
Well, first I was disappointed, because film is placed at 1910's instead of late 1800's. But jazz background music, great atmosphere that these black and white pictures have, and of course Christopher Lee as world's greatest detective saves a lot. Also Thorley Walters gives a good performance as Dr. Watson. The scenes where Holmes and prof. Moriarty are having an intellectual war between each other's and Homes showing how much the police has not seen on this case are must seen scenes for every Sherlock Holmes- fans.
Film is directed by Terence Fisher and I think it is even better then he's Hammer- film "the Hound of the Baskervilles" also starring Lee as a romantic hero. I only wish they would have cast also some British Hammer- actor as Moriarty.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On paper, Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace looks like a sure
fired winner. Christopher Lee as Holmes, Thorley Walters (who I swear
seemed to be channeling Nigel Bruce at times) as Watson, the capable
Terence Fisher directing, and Curt Siodmak writing the screenplay, -
what could go wrong? It might have been great had the people behind
this German/Italian/French co-production not messed with the script and
hired a German co-director. The end result is middling at best. Even
though the movie may be enjoyable at times, it bears little resemblance
to the real Sherlock Holmes. Lee has described it as a "mess". As he
put it in an interview, "It was a hodge-podge of stories put together
by the German producers which ruined it".
In the movie, Holmes is once again hot on the trail of Moriarty. Holmes feels Moriarty is responsible for two recent murders related to a necklace believed to have once been the property of Cleopatra. Through disguise and trickery, Holmes will attempt to reclaim the necklace and put a stop to Moriarty's nefarious scheme.
The best part of Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace is easily the cast. Lee and Walters are both as good as you might expect. However, I'm not sure what brainiac decided not to hire either man to dub their own voice, but it was a huge, distracting mistake. The supporting cast is populated by a few familiar faces including the lovely (but terribly underused) Senta Berger and Leon Askin (known to most people as General Burkhalter on "Hogan's Heroes"). But Hans Sohnker, unknown to me before watching Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, as Moriarty is the real standout. He goes toe to toe with Lee and comes out looking quite good.
If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, there may be some curiosity value to this movie. Or, if you're a Chirstopher Lee completist, it's worth checking out. Otherwise, skip it.
There are several criminal aspects to this sub-krimi German
co-production, first among them being the fact that the filmmakers
neglected to get Christopher Lee and Thorley Walters in to loop their
own dialogue. It's somewhat jarring to watch an actor with so readily
identifiable a voice as Mr Lee speaking, yet the words come out of his
mouth spoken by what sounds like a Transatlantic drawl. Or an American
dubbing artiste doing a poor Lee imitation.
If one can get past this surreal experience however there is fun to be had. Lee and Walters are ideally cast as Holmes and Watson, at times certain shots looked like Sidney Paget illustrations come to life. Hans Sohnker does a creditable job projecting a sinister air as Moriarty, despite the handicap of dubbing even more atrocious than that of the English-speaking cast. He's no Eric Porter or even George Zucco, but better than some lesser efforts. The direction, however, co-credited to the masterly Terence Fisher of many a Hammer classic fame, is somewhat workmanlike. Perhaps Fisher's heart wasn'tin it, or he was held back by his Teutonic cohort, but it's not in the same league as his and Lee's earlier essaying of "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
The supporting cast are more than adequate, with the lovely Senta Berger in an early role adding some class and beauty to a female cast of East End slatterns played by burly hausfraus. It really is a shame though that Lee's icily incisive portrayal of the great detective, perfect for the role in every way, was only seen in this film and a couple of early '90s productions. Still, there's always the consolation of being the only actor (so far as i know) to have played bot Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, as well as Sir Henry Baskerville. That's got to count for something.
By the way, i saw this under the title "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" (somewhat reminiscent of the Basil Rathbone series, the middling entries of which it is on a par). The alternate title of "The Valley of Fear" is somewhat misleading, as apart from characters such as Holmes, Watson and Professor Moriarty this film has very little in common with the Conan Doyle novel of the same name. However, for a Holmes fan wanting a diverting hour and a half on a rainy afternoon, this more than does the trick.
Terence, Fisher has most certainly produced a fine Sherlock Holmes movie. Christopher Lee, seen by many as THE Sherlock Holmes does a fine bit of acting and Thorley Walters plays a bit bumbling but convincing Watson. (You would not know him, when you have seen him as Watson in THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES' SMARTER BROTHER) The music is brilliant and the atmosphere is very much what a Holmesian fan would be expecting. Unfortunatly the film has a few blunders as well. The most eyecatching would be the Deerstalker and Inverness which Holmes are wearing in the country. They would be most suitable for any comic Holmes where all the other costumes are very adequate, I must say. The idea of the police being of the opinion that Holmes has no right to investigate, as uttered by Inspector Cooper in the beginning is utter nonsense to anyone who has ever read the cannon. And last but not least - the time! The time warp has already been done in the Universal Series with Rathbone/Bruce and I do not like it there either. But here it is most silly. Watson is said to be driving a car in 1918 where Holes is supposed to be close on sixty! Lee does not look that old, does he. Still a very nice and old fashioned Sherlock Holmes movie. 7 out of 10.
Available on a superb DVD (although not in wide-screen format, alas), "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" is actually quite watchable and far from the "badly edited, deplorable hodge-podge of nonsense" decried by Christopher Lee, despite the fact that his own performance was "one of the best things I've ever done!" Actually, Lee is by no means the saving grace of this Sherlockian entry. That honor belongs equally to the lovely Senta Berger (and she looks especially enticing here in her form-hugging Vera Mugge costumes) and that delightful oaf of a villain, Leon Askin. Hans Sohnker's dapper Moriarty also has the edge on Lee, who admittedly is robbed of his voice (as is Thorley Walters as a conventional, bumbling Dr Watson). Although I noticed a tip of the hat in the credits to "The Valley of Fear", the script bears not the slightest relationship to that novel at all, but the play holds the interest and is actually quite ably staged and expensively set.
It was always obvious, even before watching it, that this Sherlock Holmes movie wouldn't be as terrific and compelling as "The Hound of the Baskervillers" (the other Holmes movie directed by Terence Fisher and starring Christopher Lee although not in the titular role), but I honestly didn't expect it to be *this* disappointing. The most major problems are noticeable on the surface already: an international co-production with two directors, a lesser interesting plot outline (at least in comparison with most of Doyle's stories), issues during the post-production phase and English-speaking actors whose voices are dubbed in English! Yup, especially if you're a fan of the aforementioned Hammer film or like myself swear by the brilliant old Sherlock Holmes movie series starring Basil Rathbone, you might consider skipping this one or least lower your expectations drastically. Still, "S.H. and the Deadly Necklace" isn't entirely without merit, neither. Surely a lot of fans desperately crave to see the almighty Christopher Lee depict the greatest and most intelligent fictional detective who ever lived? Even though he doesn't sound like himself, Lee's charisma and impressive posture is exactly right for the character. With his inborn aura of superiority and stern grimaces, Lee is like a natural born Sherlock Holmes and it's regrettable that he was only offered to play the role once and in such lackluster conditions. Lee also receives excellent support from Thorley Walters (well cast as Dr. Watson) as well as a couple of lesser known performers. The film definitely also benefices from the masterful art direction and enchanting black-and-white cinematography, respectively courtesy of Paul Markwitz and Richard Angst. Last but not least there are some memorable moments to enjoy, including Watson's uncomfortable encounter with a prostitute and the multiple disguises of Sherlock Holmes. Sadly these aspects are merely just footnotes in an overall tedious, suspense-free and incoherent mystery/thriller.
very difficult to watch German Holmes film.
Christopher Lee is excellent in a role he wanted to play throughout his life (returning to it late in a couple mini-series) - this despite the fact that his voice was unnecessarily dubbed by someone else. He plays the great detective as an intense young crime-fighter with wit and chutzpa.
The problems are the script and direction. The story is too convoluted, in a manner familiar to anyone who has suffered through other German mysteries of the same period, such as the Dr. Mabuse films. This was a Germany still dealing with the fact that they had a murderously criminal government only two decades previous - consequently there is considerable suspicion of the police in these films, evil seems omnipresent, the moral center is hard to find. A similar atmosphere, for completely different reasons, crept into British popular culture only in the 1970s, appearing in a British Sherlock Holmes film only in "Murder by Decree."
But the German film also suffers from the evident fact that the director can't decide whether he wants to make a Sherlock Holmes film or a Sherlock Holmes parody - there are all sorts of misfired jokes and bits poking fun at a "Sherlock Holmes superhero" image that doesn't really exist - a problem for other directors who have tried spoofing the detective, including the great Billy Wilder. The fact is, Doyle was careful NOT to make his hero an 'Uebermensch,' just a closet Nietzschean - a common romantic British type of the day.
Finally, all existing prints I know of are in shoddy condition.
Worth a view, especially for Holmes fans, but sub-par for this sub-genre of mystery film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Professor Moriarty will do just about anything to acquire the diamond
necklace once wore by Cleopatra including murder(..by using other hoods
to do his dirty work, of course)but he'll have to contend with his arch
nemesis, the Baker Street detective, Sherlock Holmes and his associate
As a horror buff, this was a dream come true to see such great names associated with Sherlock Holmes. Terrence Fisher as co-director, Christopher Lee as Holmes(..his only time as the sleuth which in itself is noteworthy), and scribe Curt Siodmak(The Wolf Man;I Walked With a Zombie)as the scenarist all contribute to SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE. While I recognize that others didn't find this movie very good(..or found it rather lackluster/mediocre), I thought it was fun, particularly enjoying the psychological duel between Holmes and Moriarty(..who, at one point, attempted to kill Holmes with a mechanism in his cane's handle which fires a blade). This may be the only film with Sherlock Holmes which might figure into the Krimi genre as it is mostly produced by a West German company. One major disappointment was not having Lee's authoritative voice dubbed for his Holmes character, which is quite a shame(..and a missed opportunity for us who love the idea of seeing Lee as the character, portrayed with his voice, matching his mannerisms and performance). It would be ill-advised for me to leave out a wonderful performance from Thorley Walters, a Hammer veteran, as the clumsy, often naive Watson, who must be fed knowledge of Holmes' activities because he's unable to often add 2 & 2 together on his own. But, Watson, of course, often lends a hand(..even playing Holmes' chauffeur when the sleuth goes undercover, in disguise, to infiltrate Moriarty's home and gang in order to keep the necklace out of the diabolical and dangerous archeologist's hands)when Holmes so needs him in order to combat Moriarty's plot to steal the necklace by any means necessary. It's a delightful game of cat-n-mouse(..or it was to me) and we are participants. Often, Holmes has to use rather illegal methods in order to retrieve the necklace, stooping to his enemy's level of theft, but it's not officially Mortiarty's property anyway, adding intrigue to their battle over such a desired object of great worth. I think Hans Söhnker is Lee's equal as Moriarty, portraying confidence and arrogance, believing he will accomplish his scheme, using loathsome criminals to carry his orders out, with an ability to manipulate important public figures, even The Queen of England(..it's mentioned at the beginning, when Holmes is scolded by Scotland Yard's lead detective, Inspector Cooper, played by Hans Nielsen, that Moriarty is to be knighted). It was really cool seeing Lee as such a treasured character, conveying a believable wisdom, always expressing, effectively, Holmes' abilities to outsmart his adversaries, remaining one step ahead of not only Moriarty, but Scotland Yard as well.
I especially loved one sequence where Holmes attempts to stop a planned assassination by Moriarty, outside London where a thief is holding onto the necklace, fearful of his safety, and happening upon the crime scene of a failed murder attempt where Inspector Cooper must be assisted by the sleuth in discovering all the facts, coming across concealed truths only through our beloved detective's guidance. It's a masterfully staged scenario I enjoyed immensely.
In this movie, Christopher Lee delights us with a very convincing impersonation of the greatest detective of them all (he would later have another go at playing Sherlock Holmes in two made-for-television movies from the late 1980s.) Thorley Walters is also perfect as his friend and associate Dr Watson. The film has not much in common with director Fisher's previous stab at the myth THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLE (also featuring Christopher Lee, not as Holmes), and is not as successful. The picture is reminiscent of the silent films made in the first decades of cinema, a fitting atmosphere for a Sherlock Holmes adventure. The original version is supposed to be a complete mess as far as the sound is concerned (according to Lee in his autobiography), but the French dubbed version is pretty well done. Accompanied by a surprisingly jazzy score, here's an enjoyable enough movie, in an old-fashioned kind of way.
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