Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate a scandal in Bohemia involving Irene Adler, chalk drawings of dancing men, the identity of a crooked man, a missing naval treaty, a solitary cyclist's mysterious follower, the dangers of a speckled band, and a blue carbuncle found in the crop of a goose.Written by
When I started reading the Holmes canon in grade school, I was struck by the character of Holmes. He was obnoxious, priggish, intolerant of anyone who was beneath him intellectually (which is almost everyone but Mycroft) and anti-social. Dr. Watson was a more well-rounded character. A doctor trained at Edinburgh (which was stringent in Victorian times), a soldier who undoubtedly performed surgery under fire, wounded (twice) and a fine lad with the ladies. It was clear Holmes needed Watson to operate in society. Without Watson, Holmes would have been a freak. But in movie versions I caught later (such as the otherwise fine Rathbone/Bruce pairings, and perhaps most egregiously in Bernard Fox's Watson opposite Stewart Granger's Holmes) Holmes appeared to be Watson's keeper; or, as with Howard Marion-Crawford, Watson was the officious Britisher to a more cosmopolitan Holmes. Even as late as "Crucifer of Blood", Richard Johnson's Watson is something of a dunderhead. Some of this scurrilous misinterpreting of Watson was chipped away by Colin Blakely in "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes", a misfired comedy; and some in "Murder by Decree" by James Mason's Watson, who, while not as incisive as Christopher Plummer's Holmes, is only dunderheaded on the exterior, and who proves he can take care of himself. But with the advent of the Jeremy Brett "Sherlock Holmes", David Burke's Watson, while still not an intellectual rival to Holmes (who is?) is competent, athletic, courageous, and more of a partner to the great detective. One senses that Holmes needs Watson to operate in society, and Watson needs Holmes as mental stimulation to take him out of his dreary medical practice.
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is the finest adaptation of the Holmes canon yet. Taking a few liberties (such as giving Watson some of Holmes' lines or putting Moriarty in "The Red Headed League") it nevertheless presents a superb Holmes (Brett) and a Watson who, for the first time, is an invaluable colleague.
"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is a must for any Holmes fan and a great introduction to anyone who doesn't want to read the stories but wants to see a Holmes close to the original as possible. (Though I was disappointed Burke didn't return in the "Return of Sherlock Holmes" series, Edward Hardwicke continued the tradition of an accomplished Watson, but also giving him a mellowed flavor like fine old vintage wine).
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