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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.
This is one of the two times in which Christopher Plummer purveyed the
role of the world's most famous detective Sherlock Holmes, and he does
his usual excellent job of acting.
Thorley Walters is one of the more prolific Wastons alongside many different Holmes actors, and he too is splendid. This was part of a British television series called "Tales Dark And Dangerous" which I saw on cable as a trio of stories from that same show. I chose to only tape this one, and it is remarkably faithful to its original story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (hence my title.) Later, Mr. Plummer would recreate the role in another splendid tribute to Sherlock Holmes, "Murder By Decree," though that film was not based on a Conan Doyle story from the Canon.
Still, what both stories have in common is that they both have their basis in fact. The story of Jack the Ripper in the film and in this one, it is based on a true crime solved by the very author and creator of our great sleuth - one where an Indian doctor was falsely accused of the destruction of a horse. This gives no real spoiler to this story, but it does give it, from my perspective, an interesting touch and maybe will make others want to see it or do the research - or both.
Plummer is magnificent as Holmes in this television film based on the Doyle story. Look for Plummer as Holmes also in MURDER BY DECREE.
Quite a superb production sadly l have seen this on a poor quality DVD copied from a cable screening,my godfather Thorley Walters played Watson and was true to form his portrayal was excellent. The location filming must have been in the west county as it was made by HTV. Although dated l feel like many other HTV series such as Smuggler and Arthur of the Britons it could justify a release on DVD. Thorley was quite underrated by some as an actor but was great at adding his own quirks and adapt ions to the written script. Christopher Plumber again was the perfect choice as Sherlock Holmes and interestingly the actress Julie Chambers was born in Bristol home of HTV now ITV West. Sadly ITV West does not produce drama productions in fact the studio's no longer survive,one of the last series made at HTV was Brain Izzard'S Talent Trial a forerunner of Pop Idol that l worked on as script adviser.
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