This Canadian TV production of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze" seems to have been an entry into an anthology series of "Classics Dark and Dangerous." Considering, it doesn't dwell too much on the dark and dangerous as aspects of the story for most of its length, with the notable exception of some very atmospheric crime sequences at the beginning and end. It's a very good half-hour film that's commendable on all fronts.
Because of its short length, though, the story has to be told very quickly. Scenes last only a few lines of dialogue, evidence is presented head-on so that we know it when we see it, characters are introduced abruptly, and we are all expected to be quite familiar with Holmes and Watson already. It's almost told in a kind of narrative shorthand. The direction, however, and the good-looking location film work make this feel like an atmospheric and lavish fast-paced mystery, so the hurriedness of the cramming the original material into the adaptation doesn't matter as much as it could.
The well-known Christopher Plummer plays the lead role, before he would take it in the better-known feature-length "Murder by Decree." He's a very good, somewhat dreamy and distracted Holmes who frequently seems to be amused by some private joke that the rest of the world has been too slow to catch onto. He really makes the role his own, and it quite right and not surprising that he should have been given a second chance to play it. Thorley Walters, a third-time Watson, is believable in the role and traditional in his interpretation. The rest of the cast does an excellent job as well, actually, with Barry Lineham standing out as a very cool and calmly threatening Silas Brown.
As it stands this is a very good screen version of "Silver Blaze" and with the breathing room of a fuller script and more running time it would have had the potential to be an excellent feature film of it.
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