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|Index||19 reviews in total|
This feature length episode is - apart from the equally dreadful "The Last Vampyre" - the worst adaption of a story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. One really wonders what was going on in the producer's mind wasting Jeremy Brett's rapidly diminishing energy and life-span for this crude story, especially after having been so faithful to the spirit of Doyle's works before. The theme of Holmes' dreams depicting exactly the events to come stands in stark contrast to his previously stated belief in rationality, facts and logical deduction. One can't help feeling the scriptwriters took to Holmes' former vice of drug abuse. Sad and unworthy of Jeremy Brett's talents.
Re-watching this feature-length episode from the Granada Holmes series after
a long gap I was struck by its extreme strangeness when compared to even the
most off-the-wall episodes of the 50 min serial episodes. Simon Williams
plays a much-married cad with a murky past and a gothic house which doubles
as a dangerous private zoo ... he's about to marry an American heiress who
disappears as soon as they are married.
Sherlock Holmes is bored, mentally unstable, and has a recurring nightmare in which images of insanity, spider's webs, and empty rooms merge to form a traumatic whole. All this of course is given extra resonance in terms of Jeremy Brett's portrayal given his own obvious decline around the time this was filmed, and he puts across this facet of the great detective brilliantly. Dr Watson comes to the rescue and helps to solve the mystery of Hattie's disappearance. Another solid performance from Edward Hardwicke.
Another point of interest within this confused jumble of a plot is a rare TV appearance of Mary Ellis, the actress/singer who collaborated on a number of Ivor Novello musicals in the 1930s and 40s. Spot her in a couple of key scenes.
Although 'The Eligible Batchelor' is titled as such, it is the tale of a number of women linked by circumstance. It - despite it's faults - is one of the best episodes of the whole series, and worth persevering with through all its weird and wonderful conceits.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the things that supposedly led Jeremy Brett to take on the mantle of Holmes was the fact that Granada wanted to do something that no other film or television producer had done before, namely, do the Doyle stories as they were written. And for the most part, they did. It seems that towards the end of Brett's life, when he was at his weakest, they gave him the weirdest, melodramatic and nonsensical adaptations to showcase his talents. Even if I didn't know the story The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, "The Eligible Bachelor" would've had me confused, since it is just all over the place. We start out with the upcoming nuptials of Hattie Doran and Lord Robert St. Simon (along the lines of the original story). Then we veer into a very strange subplot with Sherlock Holmes being unable to sleep because he's having a recurring nightmare (which he sketches). Throw in an old estate with jungle animals, a maimed veiled lady (possibly borrowed from The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger)a murderous husband, a wife driven mad and all other sorts of wackiness that not only was never in the original story, but which just makes the whole piece unwieldy and a mess. I've appreciated other episodes where the writers were able to dramatize some elements of "backstory" but in this case, they just added in all sorts of things that made for an over-the-top piece of melodrama that probably has Conan Doyle spinning.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode of the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes" series was the worst
in terms of being a bloated two hour reconstructed story. Despite good
work by Brett, Edward Hardwicke, and Simon Callow, it again
demonstrates how the writers of a screenplay can wreck the work of a
THE ADVENTURE OF THE NOBLE BACHELOR appears in the first collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. The story details how Holmes and Watson get involved with tracing the whereabouts of a young American woman, the daughter of mining millionaire, who was about to marry one Lord Robert St. Simon, a man of impeccable breeding and background - one of the most available high profile aristocrats in the marriage market. The young woman (Alice Doran) disappeared at the chapel where the marriage was about to commence. The police (Lestrade in charge again) are suspicious of the antics of a former girlfriend of Lord Robert, who may have threatened the missing bride. And then there is also a mysterious man who was seen near her hotel on several occasions. Holmes, in the end, is able to figure out what exactly happened, although it does not please his client.
Now Lord St. Simon appears to be a well-mannered, self-important jerk in the story, but he gives no indications of being the conniving monster that was created by the scriptwriters. They turn him into a violent version of Edward Rochester, with a still living wife hidden in the ancestral house, in squalor (similar to Bertha Mason Rochester in the attic in JANE EYRE). He is a fortune hunter who marries and gets rid of wives (so why not the first one?). The conclusion of this film is about as far off base as one could get from the short story, which ends on a friendly note.
When he wrote THE NOBLE BACHELOR, Conan Doyle was making subtle comments about a trend of his time.
SPOILER COMING UP:
Alice turns out to have been reunited with one Francis (Frank) Hay Moulton, a young American who prospected near her father in California, but had no luck. Mr. Doran (when he struck it rich) would have nothing of Moulton, pulled Alice away to Europe, and decided to buy a title for his daughter. It was very common in the "Gilded Age" for multi-millionaires in America to marry into French or British aristocracy. The best recalled marriages were of Consuelo Vanderbilt to the Duke of Marleborough, and of Jennie Jerome to Lord Randolph Churchill (the latter producing Winston Churchill). Anne Gould married Count Boni de Castlelaine. The trend continues to this day (Jackie Kennedy Onassis' sister Lee Bouvier becoming Princess Radziwell of Hungary). But it was at it's height in the 1890s - 1920s.
Conan Doyle was poking fun at this ridiculous right of passage of a new snobbish American aristocracy, and showed that Lord St. Simon really was not worth the trouble (when he learns the truth St. Simon will not congratulate the Moulton's on their marriage). Conan Doyle ends the story with Holmes demonstrating a better approach to good international relationships, in a memorable comment suggesting that one day the memories of the idiots who caused the American Revolution will fade and Britain and the U.S. may yet be reunited again.
As I have said before, Conan Doyle could write the heads off of some screenplay writers.
This dramatization of a short story is stretched past breaking point. Far, far, far too much padding takes place before the story gets started. Even when it does, every scene is dragged out to painful length with no explanatory dialogue so as to make it impossible to comprehend nor actually care for any of the characters. Only Jeremy Brett's usual excellence as Holmes makes this awful mess even slightly worth watching.
Of the three feature length adaptations Granda made of Conan-Doyle's novels
(rather than the usual 50 min ones) this was the one that veered the most
from the original tale. The original idea of mistaken identity is turned
into a surreal gothic horror, with the hero of the original story now a
serial murderer and bigamist. Holmes is also turned into a detective with a
more tortured soul and what appears to be second sight.
The story, however, benefits from this as the original short story was a little bland and boring. Brett rises to the challenge and gives one of his best ever performances, and Simon Callow is suitably suarve and evil as the main protagonist.
Generally, a sumptious adaptation, given a 90's polish and reworking!
Along with The Last Vampyre, The Eligible Bachelor is one of the weaker
Sherlock Holmes adaptations. If I have to marginally edge out which was
worse, this probably because it is so weird and hard to get into. Well
there are redeeming qualities. The production values are meticulous as
usual with wondrous costumes, settings and scenery, while the music is
haunting and just wonderful. And the acting is not bad at all, Jeremy
Brett looks worse for wears but still has that commanding,
sophisticated and gritty baritone and presence that makes him so
wonderful to watch. Edward Hardwicke is rock solid as Watson, while
Geoffrey Beavers and Anna Calder Marshall are good in their respective
However I didn't care for Simon Williams as Lord Robert St. Simon, then again I didn't like his character, so conniving and such an unlikeable monster here he is horrible to watch. Then there is stodgy direction, pedestrian pacing and a plot that meanders all over the place. And the dialogue wasn't particularly noteworthy either, it wasn't sophisticated and intelligent enough and I missed the subtle humour that is evident at times.
Overall, not awful but not great. For a great Jeremy Brett-Holmes adaptation see Hound of the Baskervilles and Sign of Four. Both can be slow at times but they do have absorbing stories, stick to the spirit of their respective stories(not really a general problem as such) and have intelligent dialogue. 5/10 Bethany Cox
Asks Watson. Unfortunately not at all. This feature length production
concocts a Holmes who is not at all himself. Holmes, the archetypal
steely-nerved arch-rationalist here, in the hands of this writer and
director, instead becomes prey to nightmares and tortured by flashbacks
and phantasms. Will he be forced to seek counselling we wonder? The
writer stopped just short of this but he the director otherwise knew no
bounds. Pointless over-elaboration - and a lack of point. If it's
allusive they use it. Such things often are the hallmark of a lesser
talent given too many resources. Surprising to find this in the work of
a writer and a director with long track records. But what a shame that
this fine cast (inc guests Simon Williams and Anna Calder-Marshal),
these sumptuous interiors and costumes,these atmospheric exteriors were
not put to better use.
Its always good to watch the Brett/Hardwicke combo in their struggles against criminality and injustice. Here though they are pitted against criminally bad writing and direction
A ray of hope. Re-editing might yet rescue it.
This final Sherlock Holmes film from Granada Television is disliked by
many fans but I might be among the few who enjoyed it. In fact, in my
mind it is an under-appreciated production. It is absorbing from
beginning to end. It is powerfully directed by Peter Hammond with
superb acting and scripting. The film is one of the few outings from
the Granada series that invites multiple viewings.
During the early nineties Granada started producing Holmes films that were loose, expanded versions of short stories with "The Master Blackmailer" and "The Last Vampyre".This film is also an overextended adaptation. It is based on the story called "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" but even purists would admit that it was one of Arthur Conan Doyle's lesser tales. This film improves what was a mediocre story by turning it into dramatic feature-length film.
This film is rather unconventional for a Sherlock Holmes film or mystery movie. T.R. Bowen's script is solid but it requires patience and careful attention. It gradually reveals interspersed clues where the viewer and Holmes eventually put together. Some might find this storytelling approach irritating but it keeps you thinking all the way until the end. This also adds pretensions that you would not see from Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories as this film suggests something spiritual beyond the rational thinking that Holmes himself is known for. Its script has elements of nightmares, premonitions, freundianism, etc.
The acting is excellent. Jeremy Brett gives one of his best performances as Sherlock Holmes. He was certainly ill at the time the film was made but it only benefits his acting as Holmes in this film is in fact suffering from trauma. Edward Hardwicke continues to make a dignified and intelligent Watson. Simon Williams is strong as Lord Robert Simon and Paris Jefferson is splendid as the beautiful Henrietta Doran. Anna Calder-Marshall is also good in a dual role as Agnes Northcote and young Lady Helena (who incidentally is the wife of David Burke, the actor who played Watson in the Granada series before Hardwicke).
The atmosphere in this film is also top-notch. You could say this is the most cinematic of Granada's Sherlock Holmes films. Peter Hammond's direction is superb if not brilliant in creating the film's Gothic, bizarre nature. He skillfully blends visual and audio during Holmes surreal dreams as well the echoing noises that can be heard as Holmes walks through streets of London during the night. It is also has great close-ups particularly with the moment where Doran looks into the eyes of the Jaguar. Set direction is rich in particular such as with the look of Lord Simon's secret mansion known as Glaven, which turns out to be full of empty rooms, cobwebs, and torn furniture.
The Eligible Bachelor is certainly weird, off-putting, and uneven but it is far from being rubbish. It's oddities are part of what makes it unique and different from so many other Sherlock Holmes films. This film is definitely not for the Holmes purists. However, casual viewers (like myself) who enjoy watching Sherlock Holmes but aren't exactly Sherlockians should enjoy it just fine.
This two-hour version of a Sherlock Holmes story that has been
embellished with a number of new ingredients and sub-plots taken from
other works of literature (most notably, the mad wife from "Jane
Eyre"), is an extravagant waste of time for the viewer.
I came upon this after the first ten minutes and from then on tried to make sense of the proceedings. This was nearly impossible until I watched at least an hour of it to get to the main thread of the story. Even then, the plot is all over the place with rambling, incoherently staged scenes that seem to lack any sense of continuity. It's as if the editor had a jumbled mess on his hands and didn't know how to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Of course, Sherlock has no such problem. With the thinnest of hints, he manages to solve the entire case using implausible practices. The weird underpinnings of the story are too improbable to bear much scrutiny.
Let's just say the settings are fine, the atmosphere proper and the acting is first rate except for Jeremy Brett who seems to be giving his all to an overbaked role that makes Sherlock Holmes look as though he needs a lot of clinical care. Brett looks pale and distraught most of the time, clearly not in the best of health with his asthma hurting his ability to draw his breath at times. Too bad he had to waste so much energy on a badly constructed episode that seemed endless.
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