El­e­men­tary, my dear McKellen

How oth­ers played Sher­lock Holmes

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY -

Jeremy Brett

It could rea­son­ably bear gued that the late Brett (a friend and con­tem­po­rary of McKellen’s) got clos­est to the neu­rotic in­ten­sity that Arthur Co­nan Doyle hinted at in his sto­ries. The ITV shows, which ran from 1984, re­main es­sen­tial.

Robert Stephens

Billy Wilder’s The Pri­vate Life of Sher­lock Holmes( 1970) was not well re­ceived on re­lease, but many now see it as a bril­liant de­con­struc­tion of the myths. Stephens brings a great sad­ness to his por­trayal.

Basil Rath bone

We now think of Rath bone’s Holmes as stray­ing a lit­tle too far into broad (largely un­in­tended) camp. The later films, up­dated to the1 940s, were un­speak­ably cheesy. But Rath­bone re­mains a de­light­ful pres­ence.

Ni­col Wil­liamson

Wil­liamson, al­ways barmy, al­ways slightly un­set­tling, was not used well by the movies. But Her­bert Ross’s The Seven-Per-Cent So­lu­tion ex­ploited his tal­ent to good ef­fect in an orig­i­nal tale that presses the de­tec­tive to get her with Sig­mund Freud.

Bene­dict Cum­ber batch

Yes, Robert Downey Jr’s Steam punk Holmes has his virtues, but Cum­ber­batch has surely done most to rein­vent Holmes for a con­tem­po­rary au­di­ence. Ut­terly dif­fer­ent, but much the same.

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