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This TV production from the Soviet Lenfilm studio is a superb screen translation of the Sherlock Holmes story to the screen. The producers found ways to remain very faithful to the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while modifying things slightly to make them work well as films. Here they embellish the first parts of "A Study in Scarlet" before moving into a pared-down "Speckled Band," and it works very well as a film on its own.
It's an unanswerable question to me who the best screen Holmes (or the best Watson for that matter) was. Some have certainly been better than others but each has brought unique and interesting qualities to the role. It is enough for me that here Vasili Livanov and Vitali Solomin are extraordinarily good. Their performances are magnetic viewing and full of subtlety. Every scene between the is memorable.
In the first half of "Acquaintance," the real mystery doesn't revolve around a crime but around Sherlock Holmes' character -- and Watson, whose character -- a romantic, artistic, intelligent doctor who would like to think he minds his own business but really does not -- is wonderfully fleshed out -- is the detective. This makes perfect sense as a way of introducing the two characters, but still seems like an innovation here.
It also looks wonderfully lavish and the filming is contrastingly expansive and suspensefully claustrophobic. It's clear a lot of care was well spent on these adaptation, and it is only right that they should have received notoriety decades after they were filmed and far from the former USSR.
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