"The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" The Golden Pince-Nez (TV Episode 1994) Poster

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A Goodly Spectacle
Hitchcoc18 February 2014
This is quite a good classic mystery story and one of the better offerings in the Holmes saga. It involves a mysterious murder of a young secretary. He has been stabbed in the neck with a letter opener and has bled to death, his dying statement: "Professor...it was she." The secretary has also grabbed a golden pince nez (those old fashioned spectacles that sat on a person's nose). The professor in question is a bed ridden, chain-smoking historian. He is a harsh man with little patience. Holmes has been called in, assisted by brother Mycroft (apparently Edward Hardwicke, the Watson of the series, was unavailable for this episode). Holmes has been approached by a young police detective, who has produced a layout of the house and offered a few opinions. Of course, the two brothers are incensed by his basic incompetence. This leads to an investigation that banks on how someone could commit a murder in this house and not be seen by the housekeeper or the maid (who discovered the body). There is also a subplot about a women's temperance group, whose leader has become a possible suspect. There are also forces going back to events long ago involving an attempted revolution. This is also the time when Mycroft quotes their father concerning eliminating the impossible, hence, leaving behind the truth. The ultimate maxim of Holmes. Excellent performances all around, especially the Professor, played by great British stage actor Frank Finlay.
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TheLittleSongbird3 June 2011
As far as the adaptations go in the series The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes go, The Golden Pince-Nez is not as good as the brilliant Cardboard Box. But it is much better than the interesting-try-but-failed Mazarin Stone, which was not only the weakest of this series but also one of the weaker overall Granada Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

Apart from some dull spots in the middle and a rather obvious goof in regards to Anna's glasses, The Golden Pince-Nez is a very interesting episode. The writing is good on the whole, the conversations between Holmes and Mycroft are particularly intriguing and the story is compelling with a good atmosphere and a solution that did grab and surprise me.

The production values are superb, I always love how evocative it all is, and the music is often hauntingly beautiful. The acting is fine, the supporting cast do everything they can without standing out too much, but the real joys are Jeremy Brett and Charles Gray who are both brilliant and their chemistry is delightful.

Overall, an interesting episode if not quite one of the best. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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Nicely Done
ericksonsam607 March 2013
This is the last episode in the Granada series in which we get to see Holmes and his brother Mycroft work together and one in which Watson is no where to found (Edward Hardwicke at the time was busy working on a feature film). It involves the murder of an old amanuensis who died with a small pair of reading glasses clutched in his hand. It nicely ties in historical elements of Woman's Sufferage and Russian Revolution, as well as adds twists and humor into the story. The visuals are artsy and the chemistry between Jeremy Brett and Charles Gray is always a treat. This turns out to be one of the more enjoyable of the later episodes in the series.
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Strong Episode Despite No Watson
Troll_Dahl23 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Due to other obligations, Edward Hardwicke is absent from this episode but it manages to work very well. One reason might be that the story at the heart of the mystery is a rather interesting one. More so than for the previous Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, I feel the producers generally did a good job in Memoirs as far as choosing interesting stories from what was left of the Holmes canon to adapt. For instance, The Three Gables, The Dying Detective, The Cardboard Box, and this one. (The one exception might be The Mazarin Stone, but that's a different beast for another review.)

It could be that I find this one interesting because my maternal grandmother was full-blooded Russian and my great grandparents (although I never knew them) probably left their home country around the time of the Communist Revolution or not long before. As one of Doyle's historically-based plots, this story, which was one of the later ones to be written, touches on that general period of history.

Acting is very strong all around, as usual. Jeremy Brett is never a let down and although, as previously stated, there is no Watson in sight, Charles Grey as Sherlock's brother Mycroft is always delightful. (Although Mycroft did not feature in Doyle's original--which had Dr. Watson in his rightful place--the elder Holmes was featured in a couple of other short stories that were adapted, so Grey had a recurring part.) The episode is helped tremendously by strong performances from Frank Finlay as The Professor and Anna Cartaret, in a brief but essential role. Also, an actress by the name of Patricia Kerrigan is pretty effective as a suffragist in a new subplot added for the adaptation. Some "purists" get feathers ruffled over any change to one of Doyle's stories but this should be one of the less harrowing ones: the presence of the women's suffrage movement is in keeping with the setting of the story and fleshing out background characters is a sensible enough way to make a short story more substantial without altering the core plot. As for the cast, it is every bit as strong as usual with no duds. The inspector and the professor's housemaid are also played well.

The other character of note is the Professor's house itself. Thanks to Peter Hammond, perhaps the most artsy director in television, the house in which the murder takes place is quite an engrossing and vivid character of its own. It would have been a quirky set anyway but Hammond's classic off the wall style, which an also be seen in other episodes that he directed, takes full advantage of it, with colorful and zany visuals helping to enhance the quirkiness and the filmic value of this episode. Memorable play can be made of something as simple as a large pool of blood on the floor, as happened in a very memorable sequence with the Holmes brothers interviewing the maid.

Fair warning: Hammond's artsy photography and editing choices could be confusing to some, as the opening sequence intercuts two dramatic sequence from totally different times and places in the characters' lives. The opening may throw viewers off at first in this regard but all soon becomes clear.

So I suppose that between loving the house and loving the history, I can't help but rate this episode highly. It's one of my favorites from the underrated and rather unfairly mauled Memoirs series, which I actually rate a bit above most of the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. It's true that Brett's decline in health around the time of production can be a drawback--but not an insurmountable one. And I guess this isn't the strongest *detective* story in the world but I think there is actually a pretty powerful human story at the heart of it. The weakest spot for me is that in the denouement, there is one big element that's rather clichéd. But if The Golden Pince-Nez were the only murder mystery guilty of that, it wouldn't be a cliché. Nonetheless Jeremy Brett and Anna Cartaret carry it off excellently--really affecting performances that handle potentially difficult scenes well.

Plus, Pince-Nez has to be one of the coolest sounding words ever. So bonus points go for that.
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Who Dunnit?
rmax3048239 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Enjoyable late entry in the last Season. In a country home an old bookworm is dictating his magnum opus to a young man. Something to do with mysticism, a popular subject at the time. One night, the man's screams are heard. The maid rushes into the room. The recorder lies on the floor, dying from a neck wound. He whispers to the maid, "The professor . . . she did it." And a golden pince-nez is found next to the body. What does it all mean? We don't know, nor does Sherlock Holmes or Mycroft. (Watson is busy with his surgery.)

The young victim's appointment book leads the team to a meeting of demonstrative Suffragettes who boo the entrance of the local Inspector and Mycroft. The speaker at the podium demands voting rights for women. Mycroft's attitude is one of repugnance. Voting rights for women! "What next, women Constables? Women politicians?" (Margaret Thatcher was PM when this was shot, so it's meant as a joke on Mycroft.) Nobody notes that the speaker stands before a banner on which the name of Boadicea is prominent. "Boadicea" has nothing to do with the constrictor snakes of the New World, as I'd thought. I had to look it up in Wikipedia. It's the name of a woman warrior who led the British tribe of Iceni in a revolt against their Roman rulers around AD 60.

The back story has to do with the Russian revolution and there are one or two visual allusions to some memorable shots in Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin."

The touches of irony and humor are very welcome. The direction seems to be still hung up on glass and reflections of various kinds. But it's a lively story and thoroughly diverting.
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One of the weaker entries, but still enjoyable.
Sleepin_Dragon21 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
An episode I've always enjoyed, if never taken too seriously, it opens up very well, with a bold intriguing introduction, it gets a little slow in the middle, and the conclusion is a little baffling. At times it seems to verge on melodrama, it verges on being a little too theatrical.

I was intrigued to find out Charles Gray stepped in to replace Hardwicke for this episode, Gray's Mycroft was always great value, such a charismatic actor, brilliantly cast as Sherlock's brother, there's a great scene when they discuss their father's magnifying glass. unfortunately he's a bit of a spare part here.

Frank Finlay, a truly fine actor, is the shining light here, as the eccentric Professor Coram. He is very watchable as Coram, he steals the scenes.

I would class this as one of the weaker entries into the strong Memoirs series, but it's very enjoyable nonetheless. 6/10
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