In this mystery, Holmes pursues his arch-enemy Moriarty to New York, which the villainous scoundrel has carried out the ultimate bank robbery. Meanwhile, Holmes enjoys a blossoming romance ... See full summary »
King Edward ask Sherlock Holmes to perform one more task before his retirement: to safeguard the Star of Africa on a trip to Cape Town. Soon the fabled jewel is stolen and several people end up being murdered.
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After watching this film, which is adapted from a stage play, I can only assume it was originally an amateur dramatics production. And, based on the performances on display here, that the original cast was carried over too.
It is a truly lacklustre piece of film-making involving Patrick MacNee (miscast as Holmes and playing it somewhere between a misguided comedy turn and a brain-addled old fart who seems to think he has wandered into the wrong film but isn't quite sure) investigating a baffling (and I use the word ironically) murder which has taken place in a theatre, and which also involves Holmes' old paramour, Irene Adler (a woman Holmes looks at in an effort to project longing and deep love but which instead comes across as seeming as though he can't quite put a name to her face).
He is assisted in his investigations by a Watson who looks a lot like the character Ted from, "The Fast Show," and who seems to have an unhealthy interest in Miss Adler herself, and an Inspector Lestrade who is so dim he makes an extinguished candle look bright and is there in a woeful attempt at comedy relief.
The makers have made no effort to expand the piece from the original stage play (and, judging by the look of the film, this was down to a lack of budget as much as anything else) and this is made even more evident by the fact that 90% of the action takes place in a theatre, on the stage itself. Such circumstances are not helped by the fact that when anyone does leave (there's a lot of, "You stay here and you come with me!" business) we always remain with the characters on stage, never following those who depart (which, naturally, leads to a lot of, "Well, while I was away I...," exposition that slows the whole thing down even more).
Matters are further hindered by the performances. Obviously, they haven't been given the greatest script or direction to work from, but as a whole the performances are pretty dire and they really do come across as a bad amateur dramatic society (though they are obviously trying their best). All of which only serves to underline how poor MacNee's performance is. As I said before, he is badly miscast as Holmes (he barely makes a decent Watson on the occasions he has played him) and really does seem to just be vacantly wandering in and out of the action mentally, sometimes in the middle of a scene.
He, and the rest of the cast, are not helped by a script that is throwing out intricate references to the actual stories one minute and a terrible bit of slapstick the next. Or a creaking, "twist," that, rather than shows Holmes' skills as a detective, instead shows him up as a bit of an idiot (the, "reveal," of a certain character springs to mind, wherein he basically removes his glasses, to which Holmes dramatically declares the man's name before the character explains how he has had, "facial reconstruction," begging the questions A) Why the disguise then? and B) How did Holmes recognise him?) The tone is all over the place and the best thing you can say about it is that it's all over relatively quickly as the whole thing barely stretches out past the hour mark.
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