The Crucifer of Blood (1991 TV Movie)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
Depending on your taste you might like this (not the first and not the last adaptation of this particular Holmes story). And even though there is even a moment, where it seems to break the fourth wall (talking about a comic relief of all things), it still kinda works. Nice entertainment then, but not the best out there ...
I often like Charlton Heston's performances, but he is totally miscast here. Add to that the rather lame, and at times implausible, story; the often plodding pace; and the distractingly intrusive sets. However, it held my interest enough to hang on to the end -- just barely.
Do yourself a favor: if you're in the mood for a good Holmes film, watch Billy Wilder's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," or one of the early episodes of Jeremy Brett's Granada series.
This high production values British picture, a loose adaptation of Conan Doyle's Sign Of The Four, is rather tongue-in-cheek in tone anyway. It's as florid and melodramatic as a silent movie with all the de rigueur Holmes artifacts ostentatiously displayed -- the deerstalker cap, the Victorian bulldog revolvers, the magnifying glass, the hansom cabs, and the great, billowing clouds of artificial fog. It's all jolly good fun if you're in the right mood and are not a picky Holmes purist. After a while, you don't mind that even the heavy ulster coat can't disguise Heston's curvature of the spine. Or that Johnson shows such frightful wrinkles in his closeup love scenes, it makes the object of his affections, 26-year old Susannah Harker, look like jail bait.
Yours truly is admittedly not much a fan of the Sherlock Holmes movies or literature, but my picky, old wife is. And she liked this one about as well as any. Crucifer Of Blood is expertly directed by Charleton's son, Fraser C. Heston, who also wrote and produced. A fast-paced, atmospherically filmed, spirited, witty, inventive, and enjoyable picture from beginning to end.
Heston takes his place right along side Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone as a fine delineater of the analytical character of Sherlock Holmes. In the Rathbone series, Holmes purists are usually quite upset about Nigel Bruce's Dr. Watson being made more and more a bumbling idiot as the series progressed. Watson as conceived by Conan Doyle was not as bright as Holmes, but who is. His medical training in fact helps Holmes on more than a few cases.
But in this film Watson is a fool though, a fool for love as he falls for Sussanah Harker, a woman who has sought out the help of Sherlock Holmes. Three men who thirty years earlier stole a maharajah's treasure while serving in India during the Sepoy mutiny are being targeted for terror and probably worse, one of them being Harker's father. Several dead bodies later Holmes does come up with the answer as we know he always does.
Edward Fox and John Castle are two of the men who do the stealing and Castle as the opium addicted father of Harker is the best in the film. One man who is played as a bumbling idiot is Holmes's rival at Scotland Yard, Inspector Lestrade as played by Simon Callew. Dennis Hoey was never as dumb as this guy.
I'm glad Charlton Heston's interpretation of Holmes for which he got good critical notices for the stage play is preserved here and his fans will like it. Holmes fans will like it as well.
Richard Johnson plays a believable John Watson. The Watson role is difficult to play in the sense that he is an educated man, so shouldn't appear stupid, just less capable of crime deduction. But we shouldn't forget that doctors are experts in deducing illnesses from the symptoms of their patients. Connie Booth is a lovely lady - a pleasure to see everything she's in!