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Best Of Sherlock

author
James Smith
• Sunday, 06 December, 2020
• 7 min read

This website is devoted to covering noteworthy items related to Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Christies sold the manuscript of Conan Doyle's third Professor Challenger novel The Land of Mist in July 2020.

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Contents

An unpublished chapter from the Professor Challenger story The Land of Mist and a Conan Doyle poem about Shakespeare both sold at auction for more than their high estimate. Sidney Page is justly famous for his Sherlock Holmes illustrations in The Strand Magazine.

Sir Arthur's manuscript for one of the funniest cricket stories ever written sold at auction at Sotheby's. The Basil Rathbone movies helped change the broadcast industry, and even have a connection to the Holmes TV show starring Ronald Howard.

See this list of the Best Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies and recommended DVD versions. Shylockian scholars have selected the best stories in the largest and most comprehensive appraisal ever made of the Sherlock Holmes tales.

Nearly 100 years after 1922’s Sherlock Holmes, the watershed movie that proved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character a Hollywood leading man, the detective remains on the case! That includes films from Basil Rathbone’s defining decades-long run accessorized with the deerstalker hat, Robert Downey Jr.’s blockbuster take, and Sherlock‘s modern spin with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Critics Consensus: Guy Ritchie's directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary detective, but Sherlock Holmes benefits from the elementary appeal of a strong performance by Robert Downey, Jr. Critics Consensus: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a good yarn thanks to its well-matched leading men but overall stumbles duplicating the well-oiled thrills of the original.

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Critics Consensus: Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama. Synopsis: Legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Doctor Watson return for a comedic take on their classic literary partnership, as...

Critics Consensus: Nola Holmes brings a breath of fresh air to Baker Street -- and leaves plenty of room for Millie Bobby Brown to put her effervescent stamp on a franchise in waiting. From his first appearance in print in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has spent more than a century facing all sorts of villains, solving a myriad of mysteries, and sharing quips and retorts with his trusted companion, Dr. John Watson.

Alongside the legends of other British heroes like Robin Hood and King Arthur, the tales of Sherlock, Watson, the dreaded Moriarty, and their fellow London denizens continue to pop up in endless forms of cinematic and televised storytelling. This canon has been added to as recently as 2020, with the Netflix FIM Nola Holmes, starring Millie Bobby Brown as the sister of the intrepid detective, here brought to life by Henry Cavils.

While Downey's take on Holmes in the Guy Ritchie -helmed Sherlock Holmes films does have some issues, there's no denying that his usual charm and idiosyncratic style of performance creates a fun, offbeat take on the British detective, especially when paired with an equally game Jude Law as his Watson. In Ritchie's world, Holmes is just another Quincy action hero, turning the detective into a hulking, tough guy boxer type, replacing wit with buffoonery and style with muscles.

Though his Watson here is brought to winning life by Jude Law, Downey's Holmes leans too much into the style of generic blockbuster heroes, rather than the Baker Street detective we've become so accustomed to. All is revealed in this story, where the young Holmes is brought to life by Scottish actor Nicholas Rowe, who was not even 20 when he filmed this role.

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Rowe is a fun, youthful Holmes, adrift in an eerily strange adventure involving stained-glass ghosts and Egyptian curses. That changed when celebrated director Billy Wilder (of Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, and Sunset Boulevard fame) came onto the scene with his late-career take on the British sleuth: 1970s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

Much-beloved London stage performer Robert Stephens takes up the mantle this go-round, creating a Holmes unlike any other. Wilder's take leans heavily on the comedic aspects of the Holmes legacy, creating something closer to a studio comedy than a dramatic mystery.

But Stephens is more than able to handle the trademark Wilder wit that's at play, tackling every barbed witticism with the necessary seriousness and comedic timing it needs. We all know that Sherlock Holmes spends his days busy with work as London's top consulting detective.

Unsurprisingly, McAllen shines in the tragic role of a Holmes desperately grabbing at the last vestiges of his remaining sanity, even if the film he's in less resembles The Hound of the Baskerville than it does Still Alice. Transplanting Sherlock Holmes from the streets of 19th century London to 21st century New York, Elementary follows modern-day detective Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) as he brings his deductive expertise to the assistance of the NYPD, primarily in collaboration with Dr. Joan Watson (the incomparable Lucy Liu).

Miller's Holmes is a recovering drug addict, which lends some additional intensity and dimension to the character. But Elementary definitely has some fun contemporizing the Holmes stories (including Natalie Dormer providing a fresh take on the villain Moriarty), and Miller is a wonderfully oddball performer that brings humor, humanity, and a ton of heart to this modern detective show.

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His performance creates a detective whose dedication to the mystery at hand, while removing some comedy of the role, results in a uniquely compelling sleuth. Chances are, when you hear the name Sherlock Holmes,” your mind jumps to either the lovable scamp that is Benedict Cumberbatch (we'll get to him soon, promise) or the recent Robert Downey Jr. punch-fests.

Here, Basil (voiced by Barrie Ingham) provides a wonderfully faithful mouse version of the famed detective, balancing his deduction skills, nimble fighting, and veiled madness into a delightful concoction of a main character. He faces off against one of Disney's all-time greatest villains, Professor Vatican, devilishly voiced by Vincent Price.

Cumberbatch met the challenge of bringing Sherlock to the 21st century with gusto, and his stylish, witty, one-of-a-kind performance emerged as nothing short of iconic. It's a wonderfully faithful adaptation, and what it may lack in any sort of reinvention or overt stylistic interpretations, it more than makes up in Brett's fantastically authentic performance, bringing to life what could be called the “definitive” take on Doyle's character.

HI's droll, dry, witty-beyond-comprehension read on Holmes feels as fresh as ever these days, and made even more impressive that he was able to carry this performance over the course of a decade. The adventures of Doyle’s iconic detective proved a craze from the start, and since then, no character has been as reproduced and adapted in film, television, stage, and the printed word.

I’d long been intrigued by the idea of Sherlock, but wasn’t really spurred into reading the stories until we had Michael Sims on the podcast to talk about Arthur Conan Doyle and the creation of his archetypal sleuth. Some entries in the series are definitely better than others; for one thing, the final two published collections, His Last Bow and The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, are universally regarded as lesser material.

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Almost every story (outside those in The Case Book) is in the public domain; click the title of each to read them for free online! The first case that Watson records involves a murder in an abandoned house with “RACE” written on the wall.

From the numerous twists and turns, to a fun trip to America’s Western frontier, to the delightful construction of the characters’ charms and personalities, and finally to the unforgettable conclusion, I can’t think of a better introduction to a detective series than A Study in Scarlet. While A Study in Scarlet serves as a great introduction to Holmes and Watson, no story itself is as well done as The Hound of Baskerville.

Using the length of a novel rather than just a short story, and without the need for much expository ramp-up, Conan Doyle is able to fully explore the depths of the most head-scratching case in the series. There aren’t many clues to work from, except for an old legend about a monstrous hound that has attacked Baskerville heirs for generations.

Placed by “THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE,” it announced that “All red-headed men who are sound in body and mind and above the age of twenty-one years” were eligible for a well-paying but nondescript job. Wilson showed up for the interview, was declared to have just the right hue of red in his locks, and was set to work copying the encyclopedia.

Though he takes a central role in only this one story (he’s reminisced about in others), no Shylockian villain is as nefarious as Professor James Moriarty; “He is the Napoleon of crime,” Sherlock tells Watson. On the eve of an important horse race, a prized thoroughbred, Silver Blaze, has gone missing, his trainer has been murdered, and some sheep in a nearby pasture have been found lame.

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The famous exchange about “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” in fact inspired an excellent novel which used that line as the title. Some better-written Holmes stories are somewhat predictable, and some better plot lines aren’t as well written or structured; “The Silver Blaze” is one of those that combines all the best elements of Doyle’s work.

The beauty of the Sherlock Holmes stories is that you’re sure to find one with a tone that appeals to you; there’s quite a range on a scale that runs from fun and playful to dark and twisted. The charming Miss Violet Hunter visits Holmes and asks his opinion on taking a job as a nanny which, though it pays well, also comes with a number of peculiar conditions, including cutting her hair short and wearing particular clothes.

This is another of Doyle’s more playful stories and involves the most memorable female character of the entire series; in Sherlock’s eyes, “she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.” Holmes takes the case, thinking it’ll be a piece of cake to trick the woman and retrieve the photograph.

This story has as memorable a start as you’ll find in the canon: a young lawyer, John McFarlane, comes into Holmes’ office knowing full well he’s going to be arrested and charged with murder. We also see a fuller picture of Lestrade in this story; rather than just begrudging competition, the relationship between him and Holmes seems to flourish into real comradeship.

While Holmes always has justice in the eyes of the law as his primary pursuit, every once in a while a case comes up that challenges his ideas about right and wrong. Holmes is enlisted in the fight against Silverton by Lady Eva Blackwell, who’s keen on retrieving some compromising documents.

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Silverton is as dastardly a fellow as London has ever seen, and though Holmes is aware of him, he hasn’t had the chance to nail down evidence of his breaking the law; this is his opportunity, and he leaps at it. The reader gets the gift of clever disguises, a false engagement, breaking and entering, safe-cracking, and as surprising an ending as you’ll come across in these stories.

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Sources
1 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicola_Walker
2 www.imdb.com - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0908070/
3 www.hellomagazine.com - https://www.hellomagazine.com/film/2020030185521/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-split-star-nicola-walker/
4 www.telegraph.co.uk - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/10735392/Nicola-Walker-Ive-got-a-feisty-face.html
5 - /rebates/welcome