Sherlock Holmes - on the Screen

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Game's Afoot!"

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). He first appeared in the novel A Study in Scarlet first published in 1887. Conan Doyle wrote a total of 56 short stories and 4 novels featuring Holmes. Dr. John H. Watson is his closest friend and assistant.

Holmes resides at 221B Baker Street, London. His brother Mycroft appears in three stories. Holmes has a romantic interest in Irene Adler, she is mentioned in a number of stories and appears in just one, A Scandal in Bohemia. Holmes archenemy is Professor James Moriarty, the “Napoleon of crime” as Holmes describes him.

Bored with writing Sherlock Holmes stories Conan Doyle seemingly killed off his detective hero in the short story The Final Problem (1893) which ends with Holmes fighting Moriarty at the top of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, they both fall into the gorge. Watson, heartbroken, returns to London.

After a public outcry, Conan Doyle brought Holmes back in a new short story, explaining to Watson that he faked his death to outwit his enemies. Holmes plays the violin, he enjoys smoking pipes, cigarettes and cigars and is a morphine and cocaine addict. We find out from John Watson's account in The Last Bow that Holmes finally retired to a small farm in Sussex Downs in 1903.

75 actors have played the great detective in over 200 film and TV shows.

Eille Norwood with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Eille Norwood with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Eille Norwood (1861-1948) was a popular silent movie actor and has appeared in more Sherlock Holmes films than any other actor, 47 films. Conan Doyle said of Norwood "His wonderful impersonation of Holmes has amazed me.”

Sherlock Holmes (1922)
Sherlock Holmes (1922)



'The Great Profile' John Barrymore as Sherlock Holmes (1922) directed by Albert Parker and also starring Roland Young as Watson. Carol Dempster, William Powell, Hedda Hopper and Reginald Denny.

The movie was restored a few years ago by Kevin Brownlow, but some scenes are still missing and the general consensus is that the movie isn't worth the trouble.

IMDB rating 5.9

The Return of Sherlock Holmes 1929
The Return of Sherlock Holmes 1929



The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) directed by Basil Dean and starring Clive Brook as Holmes, H. Reeves-Smith as Dr. Watson, Betty Lawford, Donald Crisp and Harry T. Morey as Professor Moriarty. 71mins.

The first Sherlock Holmes film released with sound.

IMDB rating 5.7

Sherlock Holmes 1932
Sherlock Holmes 1932



Sherlock Holmes (1932) directed by William K. Howard, starring Clive Brook as Holmes, Reginald Owen as Dr. Watson, Miriam Jordan, Herbert Mundin and Ernest Torrence as Moriarty. 68mins.

Moriarty is about to be executed for his crimes. Holmes prepares to retire to the country, but than hears that the prosecutor has been found hanged and Moriarty has escaped.

IMDB rating 5.9

The Sign of Four (1932)
The Sign of Four (1932)



The Sign of Four (1932) directed by Graham Cutts, starring Arthur Wontner as Holmes, Ian Hunter as Dr. Watson, Isla Bevan, Miles Malleson and Herbert Lomas. 75mins.

Arthur Wontner (1875-1960) was popular as Holmes appearing in five films as the detective.

Dr. Watson: Amazing Holmes!
Sherlock Holmes: Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.

IMDB Rating 5.8

A Study in Scarlet 1933
A Study in Scarlet 1933

A Study in Scarlet (1933) directed by Edwin Marin, starring Reginald Owen as Holmes, Warburton Gamble as Watson, Anna May Wong, June Clyde and Alan Mowbray. 72mins.

Owen had previously played Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes (1932).

IMDB rating 5.8

The Hound of the Baskervilles 1939
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1939


The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) directed by Sidney Lanfield, starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes, Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, Richard Greene, Wendy Barrie, Morton Lowry, Lionel Atwill and John Carradine. 80mins.

One of the most famous of all Sherlock Holmes films and the first appearance of Basil Rathbone (1892-1967) and Nigel Bruce (1895-1953) in the roles they became identified with by generations of filmgoers.

The film was a big hit and a second Sherlock Holmes film was released by Fox studios later the same year. Rathbone and Bruce would star in 14 Holmes movies from 1939 to 1946.

Holmes: Oh Watson - the needle! (last line in the film)

IMDB rating 7.7

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939



The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) directed by Alfred L. Werker, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino, Alan Marshal, E.E. Clive and George Zucco as Moriarty. 85mins.

Following the success of Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) a second Holmes movie was put into production and released just 6 months after the previous one.

Lionel Atwill was originally meant to play Moriarty but was replaced before shooting with George Zucco. Atwill would get to play Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943).

Rathbone gets to say the famous line "Elementary, my dear Watson" which was never said in any of the Conan Doyle stories, though Holmes did use the words "elementary" and "my dear Watson" on separate occasions.

IMDB Rating 7.6

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror 1942
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror 1942

Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) directed by John Rawlings, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, Reginald Denny, Thomas Gomez, Henry Daniell and Montagu Love. 65mins.

Universal Studios took over the Rathbone-Holmes movie series in 1942 and updated them from Victorian times to WWII London. Many Holmes fans were unhappy seeing their hero battling Nazi spies and saboteurs but Europe was at war and Nazi Germany was a very real threat close to home.

"People of Britain, greetings from the Third Reich. This is the voice you have learned to fear. This is the Voice of Terror. Again, we bring you disaster, crushing, humiliating disaster."

IMDB rating 6.6

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon 1943
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon 1943



Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Karen Verne, Dennis Hoey and Lionel Atwill as Professor Moriarty. 80mins.

Holmes is up against Moriarty who is now working for the Nazi's.

The debut of Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade. Lionel Atwill had previously played Dr. Mortimer in Hound of the Baskervilles (1939).

IMDB rating 6.7

Sherlock Holmes in Washington 1943
Sherlock Holmes in Washington 1943



Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Marjorie Lord, Henry Daniell, George Zucco and John Archer. 71mins.

Shock! Horror! Sherlock Holmes Goes to Washington! Holmes and Watson travel to America to recover valuable documents after a British agent is kidnapped.

IMDB rating 6.8

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death 1943
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death 1943



Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Arthur Margetson and Hillary Brooke. 68mins.

No Nazi's and a more gothic tone makes this one of the better Holmes stories.

IMDB rating 7.1

Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Gale Sondergaard, Basil Rathbone in The Spider Woman
Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Gale Sondergaard, Basil Rathbone in The Spider Woman
The Spider Woman 1944
The Spider Woman 1944


The Spider Woman (1944) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gale Sondergaard, Dennis Hoey and Vernon Downing. 63mins.

One of the most popular of the Rathbone series of Holmes movies. There are references to five of the Conan Doyle stories.

Gale Sondergaard as the Spider Woman was a memorable adversary for Holmes, she would later star in the movie The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) as a different character and unrelated to this movie.

IMDB rating 7.3

The Scarlet Claw 1944
The Scarlet Claw 1944



The Scarlet Claw (1944) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gerald Hamer, Kay Harding, Paul Cavanagh, Miles Mander and Ian Wolfe. 74mins.

Holmes and Watson are in Canada and a ghostly killer is on the loose in a village near Quebec City, it's up to Holmes to unmask the villain.

A creepy and eerie movie, it's probably the best of the Universal Sherlock series.

IMDB rating 7.6


The Pearl of Death 1944
The Pearl of Death 1944

The Pearl of Death (1944) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Evelyn Ankers, Miles Mander, Ian Wolfe and Rondo Hatton as The Creeper. 69mins.

Based on Conan Doyle's short story The Adventure of The Six Napoleons (1904).

Rondo Hatton as the killer is not wearing a mask, he really did look like that. He suffered from acromegaly after being exposed to poison gas, it disfigured him. He would be exploited as The Creeper in B-movies until suffering a fatal heart attack in 1946.

IMDB rating 7.3

The House of Fear 1945
The House of Fear 1945



The House of Fear (1945) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Aubrey Mather, Dennis Hoey, Paul Cavanagh and Holmes Herbert. 69mins.

Loosely based on the short story The Five Orange Pips (1891).

The wolfshead cane from The Wolfman (1941) can be spotted leaning against a wall in one scene.

IMDB rating 7.4.

The Woman in Green 1945
The Woman in Green 1945

The Woman in Green (1945) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Hilary Brooke, Paul Cavanagh, Matthew Boulton and Henry Daniell as Professor Moriarty. 68mins.

Henry Daniell's turn to play Moriarty after playing different roles in The Voice of Terror and Sherlock Holmes in Washington.

The only film in the series where Holmes mentions his brother, Mycroft.

IMDB rating 6.7

Pursuit to Algiers 1945
Pursuit to Algiers 1945



Pursuit to Algiers (1945) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Marjorie Riordan, Rosalind Ivan, Morton Lowry and Leslie Vincent. 65mins.

Sheila Woodbury: You are a darling.
[kisses Holmes on the cheek and walks away]
Dr. Watson: Huh! Extraordinary sight.
Sherlock Holmes: Elementary my dear Watson; and very pleasant.

IMDB rating 7.0

Terror by Night (1946)
Terror by Night (1946)
Terror by Night 1946
Terror by Night 1946



Terror by Night (1946) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Wraithbone, Bruce Nigel, Alan Mowbray, Dennis Hooey, Renee Godfrey, Fredrick Worlock and Mary Forbes. 60mins

The Star of Rhodesia diamond is stolen on board a train travelling from London to Edinburgh and the owner's son is murdered. Holmes and Watson are on the case..

Dr. Watson: I say Holmes try some of this curry. It's excellent.
Holmes: Curry? Horrible stuff! Steak and kidney pudding, please.

IMDB rating 6.9

Dressed to Kill 1946
Dressed to Kill 1946

Dressed to Kill (1946) directed by Roy William Neill, starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison, Edmund Breon, Frederick Worlock, Carl Harbord and Ian Wolfe. 72mins

The 14th and last of the Rathbone / Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes movies.

Holmes lady friend Irene Adler gets a mention in this film.

Watson: Irene Adler! What a striking-looking woman from the brief glance I had of her! What charm! What poise! And what a mind! Sharp enough and brilliant enough to outwit the great Sherlock Holmes himself!
Holmes: I take it that the new issue of the Strand Magazine is out containing another of your slightly lurid tales.
Watson: It is indeed!
Holmes: And what do you call this one?
Watson: I call it "A Scandal in Bohemia." Not a bad title, huh?
Holmes: Hmmmm. If you must record my exploits, I do hope you've given "The Woman" a soul. She had one, you know!
Watson: By "The Woman" I suppose you mean Irene Adler?
Holmes: Yes, I shall always remember her as THE Woman.

IMDB rating 6.9

Hound of the Baskervilles 1959
Hound of the Baskervilles 1959
Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes
Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) directed by Terence Fisher, starring Peter Cushing as Holmes, Andre Morell as Watson, Christopher Lee, Marla Landi, David Oxley, Francis de Wolff, Miles Malleson, Ewen Solon and John Le Mesurier. 87mins.

Made by Hammer Studios and the first Sherlock Holmes film in colour, and the only Holmes movie made in the 50's!

One of the best Sherlock Holmes movies, Peter Cushing is excellent. He would play the role again in 16 episodes of a BBC TV Sherlock series in 1968.

IMDB rating 7.0

A Study in Terror 1965
A Study in Terror 1965

A Study in Terror (1965) directed by James Hill, starring John Neville as Holmes, Donald Houston as Watson, John Fraser, Anthony Quayle, Barbara Windsor, AdrIenne Corri, Frank Finlay, Judi Dench, Cecil Parker and Robert Morley. 95mins.

Sherlock Holmes is on the trail of Jack the Ripper! The problem for the writers is we know the Ripper was never found, so the challenge is how to get Holmes to reveal the killer's secret identity and keep it hidden from the world.

Robert Stephens was considered for the role of Sherlock Holmes. Frank Finlay would play Inspector Lestrade again in Murder by Decree (1979)

IMDB rating 6.7

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes 1970
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes 1970

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) directed by Billy Wilder, starring Robert Stephens as Holmes, Colin Blakely as Watson, Genevieve Page, Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes, Clive Revill, Irene Handl and Stanley Holloway. 125mins.

The first Sherlock Holmes film in widescreen and at $10m the most expensive to that date. The rough cut of the film was over 3 hours long and drastic cuts were made. Billy Wilder was not happy with the final edit. Fans of the film are hoping a longer version may one day be released closer to the directors vision.

Peter O'Toole and Peter Sellers were considered for Holmes and Watson.

IMDB rating 7.3

Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother
Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother

The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother (1975) directed by Gene Wilder, starring Gene Wilder as Sigerson Holmes, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, Leo McKern, Roy Kinnear, John Le Mesurier, Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes and Thorley Walters as Dr. Watson. 91mins.

Sherlock Holmes younger brother tries to solve a case involving valuable documents stolen from Queen Victoria.

Wilder, Kahn and Feldman had all appeared in Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein a year before. Wilder wanted Brooks to direct this film but he declined and suggested that Wilder should direct it himself.

IMDB rating 5.9

Patrick Macnee and Roger Moore in Sherlock Holmes in New York 1976
Patrick Macnee and Roger Moore in Sherlock Holmes in New York 1976

Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976) directed by Boris Sagal, starring Roger Moore as Holmes, Patrick Macnee as Watson, Charlotte Rampling as Irene Adler, David Huddleston, Gig Young, Leon Ames and John Huston as Professor Moriarty. 100mins.

Moriarty is somewhere in New York and Holmes is hot on his trail.

Moore and Macnee would appear together again in the Bond movie A View to a Kill (1985). IMDB rating 5.7

Hound of the Baskervilles 1978
Hound of the Baskervilles 1978

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978) directed by Paul Morrissey, starring Peter Cook as Holmes, Dudley Moore as Watson, Denholm Elliott, Joan Greenwood, Hugh Griffith,Terry-Thomas, Kenneth Williams, Roy Kinnear and Spike Milligan. 85mins.

Mrs. Ada Holmes: Now then, Shirl.
Sherlock Holmes: Mother, please don't call me Shirl.
Mrs. Ada Holmes: I've always called you Shirl and I always will. Oh, you should have seen him when he was a little girl, Iris.
Sherlock Holmes: I never was a little girl, mother.

IMDB rating 4.6

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution 1976
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution 1976
Alan Arkin, Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
Alan Arkin, Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) directed by Herbert Ross, starring Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud, Robert Duvall as Watson, Nicol Williamson as Holmes, Laurence Olivier as Moriarty, Vanessa Redgrave, Joel Grey, Jeremy Kemp and Charles Gray as Mycroft Holmes. 113mins.

Based on the novel by Nicholas Meyer who would go on to write and direct Time After Time (1979) and Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982).

The title refers to Sherlock Holmes drug addiction - injecting himself with 7% cocaine and 93% saline solution.

The first Sherlock Holmes movie to get Oscar recognition, two nominations - Writing and Costume Design. Charles Gray would play Mycroft again in Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes series.

IMDB rating 6.7

James Mason, Frank Finlay and Christopher Plummer in Murder by Decree
James Mason, Frank Finlay and Christopher Plummer in Murder by Decree
Anthony Quayle, James Mason and Christopher Plummer in Murder by Decree (1979)
Anthony Quayle, James Mason and Christopher Plummer in Murder by Decree (1979)
Murder by Decree 1979
Murder by Decree 1979


Murder by Decree (1979) directed by Bob Clark, starring Christopher Plummer as Holmes, James Mason as Watson, David Hemmings, Susan Clark, Anthony Quayle, John Gielgud, Donald Sutherland, Genevieve Bujold and Frank Finlay as Lestrade. 124mins

Holmes is on the trail of Jack the Ripper, again and Frank Finlay was Lestrade in the previous Holmes vs Ripper movie A Study in Terror (1965).

Holmes: Watson, what are you doing?
Watson: I'm trying to corner the last pea on my plate.
[Holmes squashes the pea with a fork]
Watson: You squashed my pea.
Holmes: Well, now you've got it cornered.
Watson: Yes but squashing a fellow's pea.
Holmes: Just trying to help.
Watson: I didn't want it squashed, I like it whole so that you can feel it pop when you bite down on it.
Holmes: Sorry, I wasn't thinking.

IMDB rating 7.1

David Burke and Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
David Burke and Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984) TV series starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes, David Burke as Dr. Watson, Rosalie Williams as Mrs. Hudson, Colin Jeavons as Lestrade and Eric Porter as Moriarty.

Jeremy Brett (1933-1995) played Holmes from 1984 to 1994. 42 of Conan Doyle's 60 Holmes stories were adapted for 36 one hour episodes and 5 feature length.

Edward Hardwicke (1932-2011) replaced David Burke (1934-) as Watson in 1986.

Brett's rendition of Holmes was highly popular and critically acclaimed. The stories were faithful to their source and Dr. Watson wasn't the befuddled buffoon portrayed by other actors but a thoughtful and intelligent man of action.

IMDB rating 9.0

Young Sherlock Holmes 1985
Young Sherlock Holmes 1985
Young Sherlock Holmes 1985
Young Sherlock Holmes 1985

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) directed by Barry Levinson, starring Nicolas Rowe as Holmes, Alan Cox as Watson, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones, Nigel Stock and Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Lestrade. 109mins.

Teenagers Holmes and Watson meet for the first time and solve a mystery involving a murderous Egyptian Cult.

Retitled Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear in the UK. The visual effects were Oscar nominated.

Alan Cox is the son of Brian (X-Men 2) Cox. Nigel Stock has played Dr. Watson on TV in the 60's.

IMDB rating 6.6


Without a Clue 1988
Without a Clue 1988

Without a Clue (1988) directed by Thom Eberhardt, starring Michael Caine as Holmes, Ben Kingsley as Watson, Jeffrey Jones as Lestrade, Lysette Anthony, Nigel Davenport, Peter Cook and Paul Freeman as Moriarty. 107mins.

A comedy with a twist, Watson is really the great detective, Holmes is a clueless actor used by Watson to get all the attention while he solves the crimes incognito.

Watson: Holmes believes your father has been abducted.
Leslie: Abducted? By who?
Holmes: Abductors.

IMDB rating 6.8

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr, Rachel McAdams in Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Jude Law, Robert Downey Jr, Rachel McAdams in Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes (2009) directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson, Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan as Lestrade, Geraldine James and James Fox. 128mins

Nominated for two Oscars - Art Direction and Music Score (Hans Zimmer).

Robert Downey Jr won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.

The first Sherlock Holmes movie in more than 20 years, there were no Holmes movies during the 90's.

The film cost $90m and has grossed $524m worldwide.

IMDB rating 7.5

Watson: You've been in this room for two weeks, I insist you have to get out.
Holmes: There is absolutely nothing of interest to me, out there, on Earth, at all.
Watson: So you're free this evening?
Holmes: Absolutely.
Watson: Dinner?
Holmes: Wonderful.
Watson: The Royale?
Holmes: My favorite.
Watson: Mary's coming.
Holmes: Not available.
Watson: You're meeting her, Holmes!

Sherlock 2010
Sherlock 2010
Sherlock 2011 poster
Sherlock 2011 poster

Sherlock (2010) BBC TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, Martin Freeman as Watson, Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson, Rupert Graves as Lestrade, Mark Gatiss as Mycroft and Andrew Scott as Moriarty.

By early 2014 there have been three seasons of Sherlock and nine episodes, 90mins each.

A hugely popular updating of Sherlock Holmes set in the 21st century, present day. Holmes uses modern technology such as computers, the internet, texting and GPS to solve crimes.

Won Best Drama Series at the British Academy Awards.

IMDB rating 9.1

Holmes: What's wrong?
Watson: I just met a friend of yours.
Holmes: A friend?
Watson: An enemy.
Holmes: Oh. Which one?
Watson: Your arch enemy. According to him.
Holmes: Oh. Did he offer you money to spy on me?
Watson: Yes...
Holmes: Did you take it?
Watson: No...
Holmes: Pity, we could've split the fee. Think it over next time.

Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows 2011
Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows 2011
Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows 2011
Sherlock Holmes - Game of Shadows 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr as Holmes, Jude Law as Watson, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Jared Harris as Moriarty, Stephen Fry as Mycroft, Geraldine James and Eddie Marsan as Lestrade. 129mins.

Sherlock Holmes is up against his old enemy James Moriarty in this sequel to 2009's Sherlock Holmes.

Loosely based on the Conan Doyle story The Final Problem (1893).

Gary Oldman and Brad Pitt were considered for Moriarty.

The film cost $125m and has grossed $529m worldwide.

IMDB rating 7.7

Highest Rated Sherlock Holmes Movies

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27 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Hello! My favourite Sherlock Holmes actor is Jeremy Brett, bar none. He is the best, bar none, even better than Barrymore-and Barrymore was excellent before his drinking problem robbed him of his talent. The portrayals were accurate representations and acknowledged the fact that Dr. Watson was a skilled medical doctor.

The final 6 episodes Brett made he was quite ill and I have been unable to watch them since he died. I able to watch his earlier ones though. The last remaining cast member of his series is his first Dr. Watson-David Burke-among the regular cast members. Most recently, his second Dr. Watson died last year. Edward Hardwicke took over the role in 1986 after Burke left to join the RSC. Hardwicke was the son of character actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

And as for guest stars-that's another matter.

I will be soon watching a movie, so I will not have the time to go through all of these properly with my typing, but I will say this:

I prefer Basil Rathbone as a swashbuckler and absolute rotter in films like in The adventures of Robin Hood(he was a great bad guy!-in fact, Holmes in the only role I can think of off the top of my head that he is a good guy); I think the *best big screen* actor is Barrymore; my favourite big screen Watson so far Is Mason; I have seen N. Bruce in other films even though I don't like his Watson-I also think it wasn't his decision but the director's); and I've seen a lot more actors portray these characters than I thought I had.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Flora. thanks for the comment, info and preferences, much appreciated.

I have to confess to only watching a few Jeremy Brett episodes of Sherlock Holmes back then, I wasn't much of a TV watcher at that time, not much attracted me unless it was a sci-fi series.

I think with your knowledge of the series you should write a hub on Brett's Holmes, make it a tribute.

Basil Rathbone was and still is my favourite Sherlock Holmes. I love the atmosphere of those old movies.

My favourite Holmes movie though isn't one you'd expect, it's the 1959 Hammer version of Hound of the Baskervilles. A huge fan of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and I've watched that and other Hammer films a zillion times over the years.

Loved James Mason as Watson in Murder by Decree, he wrote the dialogue in the pea scene, love it.

John Barrymore may have been a great Sherlock but his movie didn't get a lot of love from the reviews I saw.

Thanks for posting.


Ana Teixeira profile image

Ana Teixeira 4 years ago from Oporto, Porto, Portugal

i just have to vote this hub UP UP UP. i love sherlock holmes. i've read all the stories and i have to admit my favourite show about it is the BBC sherlock. i love the way they turned the stories and twisted them into making new ones. always with the amazing quality of the BBC.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you Ana, Sherlock Holmes has been more popular on TV than it has in the movies, and the quality has been high. There have been only a handful of great movies based on Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Very nicely done Mr. Lensman. Wow 75 actors have played Sherlock Holmes! I have to admit that I have not seen many Sherlock Holmes movie before 1970. I do believe I have seen all the ones after 1970. But looking at the pre-1970 ones it looks like the ones to watch are the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce ones. I have seen all the Holmes movies made after 1970 with the exception of the newest one....Game of Shadows.

I was very disappointed with Without A Clue...I had such high expectations for that movie....although it was better the second time around. I love Seven Per Cent Solution and Murder by Decree. I thought the Robert Downey Jr. reboot was pretty interesting. I would say my favorite Holmes was Nicol Williamson and my favorite Watson is Jude Law in the new ones....sorry Flora....I really like Law's Watson....at least in the first one. Lots of great photos and details in this very interesting hub with awesome movie posters and pictures...voted up and awesome and interesting.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Bruce, appreciate the comment, preferences and kind words amigo.

Its been ages since I last saw Without a Clue, maybe I should have a comedy double bill, that and the Gene Wilder Holmes movie. :)

I enjoyed Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes but I haven't seen the new one yet. I'll just blind buy it on blu-ray.

Nicol Williamson was great, and he was so good as Merlin in Excalibur.

My favourite Watson is probably James Mason, maybe because I'm a big fan of the actor. :)

Thanks for posting.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Thanks for the suggestion, Steve. I'll see if I am able to do a tribute to Brett. Similar to being unable to watch some of his episodes when he was ill, I'm not sure if I have it in me yet. some day I should.

Cogerson-Law is a good actor. I'd rather he hadn't remade Alfie, though.

75 actors total-I am unsure how many actors I've seen portray Holmes. I should work it out some day.

Without a Clue may have a disappointment, but I loved the concept of it. Imagine hiring an actor to play your fictional character and you are the real brain. Too bad.

I absolutely adore Murder By Decree. It is my favourite Holmes Movie made since I was born. It is full of great actors, great writing, great everything. I can't find any fault with it. Plummer is my favourite Canadian-born actor to portray Holmes.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) is another movie that I have seen multiple times. I have never tired of it.

Films I haven't yet seen that are at the top of my to-see list, for various reasons:

Sherlock Holmes in New York-I'm intrigued to see Moore play Holmes because one of the actors who was considered for the role of James Bond to take over after Connery was, in fact, Jeremy Brett. Seriously. The irony is too strong to ignore so I must find this film somehow. I love Patrick as Steed, so I know I like him. The fact that it got a low rating just means I won't buy it.

The Hound of the Baskervilles-1978: Too funny I think. I'll love it I am sure.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Flora, thanks for the preferences and comment. I don't think I've seen that Roger Moore Holmes TV movie, maybe when I was young but I can't remember it. I wonder if youtube has it?

Researching this hub has got me interested in watching a few of these films, but I haven't finished my Stephen King season yet. :)

Thanks for posting.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Christopher Lee also introduced a VHS box set of Sherlock Holmes with Ronald Howard as Holmes and H.Marion Crawford as Watson. I think the show was in the 1950s? They are half-hour episodes (when commercials are included), some based on stories that existed, others made up new. I have a few of the tapes. I quite like the pair of Howard and Crawford.

I wonder how many actors have played Holmes on stage? Hundreds, likely.

By the way, the Rathbone/Bruce films that are brand new made up, I am more likely to watch than those with the same title as Holmes stories as I cannot say "Ah! That is nothing like..."

I have seen The Woman in Green more than once.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Peter Cushing appeared as Holmes in a BBC series in the 60's I have one of the episodes on tape.

Flora, you're putting up to many restrictions when watching movies, if I turned my nose up at every classic film that deviated from it's source I'd have only a handful here on my shelves. Movies and books are different mediums, even Shakespeare gets chopped up for films. Instead of looking for reasons not to watch a particular film try the opposite. :)

Thanks for posting.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Well your hub got me motivated to watch the Dudley Moore The Hounds of Baskerville. So I can blame you for wasting 85 minutes of my life on such a horrible movie.....lol. A great cast was really wasted. Bedazzled was so much better than this Cook and Mooore movie.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Haha sorry about that, well you've saved me 85 mins watching it, thanks. So the low rating was justifed than? I'll watch the Gene Wilder comedy instead. :)

I did sneak in a viewing of A Study in Terror last night, not bad but the other Ripper movie Murder by Decree was better.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I'm talking *buying* films here, not watching on TV. I'm just saying what films I'll pick first on my limited budget of only being able to watch what is on TV or that I already own. For now, at least while I'm unemployed. I've no money to buy anything entertainment-wise. My entertainment funds are have been taken over by Amy funds. When I can afford to buy movies, I will be broader in my range.

Thanks Bruce for your review. I do like the Gene Wilder film. It's very funny. I forgo to mention that before.

True about Shakespeare. To do justice to Hamlet it needs to be four hours long-like the 1996 version. And Wuthering Heights I've seen even though it only looks at the beginning the book.

I focus a lot on Hound of the Baskervilles here because I'm arachnophobic and was not expecting to see a huge spider in the films.

Great to hear Peter Cushing also starred in a BBC series.

Speaking of fictional detectives-and I'll ties this in by pointing out that one of the last roles Edward Hardwicke took was a role in an Agatha Christie film opposite David Suchet.

well, I was watching Thirteen at Dinner last night. The Ustinov version. Very bad script. The actors did what the could. Suchet was Inspector Japp. I saw an interview where he said he played the role very badly. It isn't as good as Phillip Jackson's for sure.

Oh well.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Hmmm. This next post will be about actors playing the main roles and how I know their careers thus far.

I know Rathbone and Bruce well. Othterwise, in order mentioned:

So far I haven't been able to find Ellie Norwood. I have heard of him in books about Holmes portrayals. I'll look for him for sure since he has been in the most.

William Powell is a favourite of mine. I've seen many of his films.

Hedda Hopper is Dennis Hopper's grandmother.

Reginald Denny and Donald Crisp I know well too. Others from the 1930s mention I know well are Reginald Owen and Ian Hunter.

I have been trying to find the John Neville film for quite some time. He died last year.

From the 40s and onward who have not yet been mentioned:

I know Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee very well, also Anthony Quale, Judi Dench (ah! Another link between Holmes an dBond...), Robert Morley,Stanley Holloway, Gene Wilder, Kahn, Feldmen, DeLouise, MacNee, Gig Young, Leon Ames, John Huston, Alan Arkin, Robert Duvall, Olivier, Williamson (he died last year too), REdgrave (all of them) Joel Grey, Jeremy Kemp (he was in The Speckled Band opposite Brett), Charles Gray (Bond villain and good guy-ooh, lots of connections), Plummer, Mason, Hemmings (unfortunately), Gielgud, Sutherland, Caine, Kingsley, Downey, Jr. and, to a small extent, and Law.

Whoo! long list. But I do talk about the actors overall careers and I hadn't done that.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Flora, appreciate the posts, comments, info, trivia, observations and preferences.

I didn't know Hedda Hopper was Dennis granny, until now.

I saw Judi Dench last night in A Study in Terror, almost didn't recognise her so young and pretty too. :)

Well you've obviously seen more Holmes movies than I have Flora, I've seen 24 of the 33 titles on this hub.

Btw nobody spotted the deliberate mistakes I added to the filmographies here, names of the actors. Oh well.

Thanks for posting.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I will check for them. Right now I have to remove every gramaphone picture I ever used. Water-marked.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Hedda was mother to William Hopper who played Paul Drake opposite Raymond Burr as Perry Mason on TV too, but I'm not sure whether you watched Perry Mason.

The actors' names hmmm. In the credits as well as the photos?

I did notice that Nigel Bruce was Bruce Nigel in one of the films but forgot to mention it. . I will need to look over the hub elsewhere to find others

Also:

Herbert Lom, not Herbert Lomas


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

If I watched Perry Mason I must have been very young Flora, I did watch A Man Called Ironside, does that count? :)

Bruce Nigel was one of them, good work. Herbert Lomas was an actual actors name so no mistake there. Herbert Lom would have been too young to appear in that film.

I'm sure I misspelled Basil Rathbone somewhere on there.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Oh! Okay.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Steve; I love Sherlock Holmes. I used to be a member of the fan club, "the Baker Street Irregulars". There was always a lot of debate in the group about Jeremy Brett. People there seemed to either love him or hate him. Personally, I thought his version was the definative Holmes (before he became ill) but there were a lot of people there who hated his version, for some reason.

I grew up with the Basil Rathbone films. My father and I used to enjoy them, even though I never liked Nigel Bruce's bungling, clueless Watson. I know it was good comedy relief for wartime movie viewers but it often took me out of the story wondering what a genius like Holmes was doing with a buffoon like Watson.

Interestingly, Edward Hardwick (who played Watson in the Granada TV version) said he knew Nigel Bruce growing up because Nigel Bruce was a friend of his father Cedric Hardwick.

Fun hub. Love Holmes. Great pictures.

Well done,

Rob


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Rob. appreciate the comment and kind words.

The Baker Street Irregulars would have liked the book I received this morning from Amazon.Uk - Sherlock Holmes On Screen - over 300 pages of interesting facts on all the films and various TV series. Each title in alphabetical order, though I would have preferred chronological order. Only £11.

Should be a fascinating read.


Sean 4 years ago

He was born Herbert Lomas and his first films billed him as such. He became Herbert Lom later.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Okay I know who Herbert Lom is, but Herbert Lomas isn't a typo there really was a British actor named Herbert Lomas, he appeared in the Holmes movie The Sign of Four (1932) and died in 1961.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0518239/


tripleransom 4 years ago

Great job on this page! Jeremy Brett was wonderful as Holmes (although he and Brook/Hardwicke were also too old for the parts!)

I just wanted to say that you have left out my favorite Holmes--Ronald Howard. He and H. Marion Crawford played Holmes and Watson for 39 episodes of the Sheldon Reynolds production "Sherlock Holmes". It was shot in France for American Television in 1954-5. The series is out on DVD from Millcreek Productions and is well worth a watch!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for commenting tripleransom, for some reason your comment was lurking in my spam folder. For anyone reading this it is worth checking your spam folder occasionally.

Sorry I left out your favourite Holmes, I couldn't include all the Sherlock Holmes actors and the page was already very long.


Geekdom profile image

Geekdom 3 years ago

Sherlock is such a great character. I am currently watching the BBC Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, as well as CBS's Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

I've heard of Elementary but haven't watched any episodes yet, I should check it out.

I am a fan of the BBC series starring new Star Trek villain Cumberbatch as Holmes with his Hobbit friend Freeman as Watson. :)

Thanks for commenting Geekdom.

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