Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sherlock Holmes: John Neville

John Neville starring in another favorite and lesser known Sherlock Holmes film A Study in Terror. Based on an Ellery Queen story of the same name, it's the first first which has Sherlock Holmes facing off against Jack the Ripper. It was produced around the time both the Batman series and James Bond films were really big and you can tell the filmmakers were really trying to capitalize on that with a young John Neville playing Sherlock Holmes as an action star of sorts.

But it works because it's done in a way where they don't make the character completely unrecognizable and still remain fairly true to the original feel of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original tales.

There was another Holmes/Ripper movie made called Murder By Decree which starred Christopher Plummer as Holmes and James Mason as Dr. Watson which was also very good and a bit more historically accurate that A Study in Terror. But I enjoyed the John Neville Holmes film a lot more.

This film is also one of the few times where they cast the right actor to play Sherlock Holmes's brother Mycroft in the guise of Robert Morley.

Most of the productions have this tendency to get a thin actor who resembles Holmes to play Mycroft. Although, Mycroft is Sherlock's intellectual superior (as confessed by Sherlock himself). Mycroft is supposed to be physically the polar opposite of Holmes.

The only other time they've really got the right actor to play Mycroft was Charles Gray who played him twice. Once in the film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and again for the Jeremy Brett series.

But I thought Robert Morley looked the closest to the original Sidney Paget illustrations,


Andy said...

That's interesting, I love the team of Christopher Plummer & James Mason as Holmes & Watson in MURDER BY DECREE-- it's also loaded with atmosphere and pays homage to both the books and the 40s film series.

The Neville version has always left me flat mostly because of Neville-- he just doesn't work for me and the movie is too 60s for my taste, there's also very little atmosphere, whereas the Plummer version is loaded!

But I think this points towards personal taste-- I prefer the Universal Horror Films while you lean towards the Hammer ones.

Bret M. Herholz said...

Very true ;-)

Although both these Holmes films has Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade. Who I think is probably the best actor to play the part in any of the adaptations I've seen of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Canonical or non-canonical.