Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christopher Lee may look like Holmes,
but the rest of the movie is a misfire

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962)

Starring: Christopher Lee, Thorley Walters and Hans Söhnker
Director: Terence Fisher
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

Sherlock Holmes (Lee) and his arch-nemisis Professor Moriarity (Söhnker) matching wits over an Egyptian necklace owned by Cleopatra, as it is stolen, recovered, and restolen.

This 1962 German film, with its two British stars and a British director, has surprisingly little to recommend it. The script is like a reject from the Universal Pictures series starring Basil Rathbone (with everything I don't like about the weaker efforts among those amplified ten-fold here, most notably Watson being portrayed as a bumbling, retarded simpleton), with an unbearably bad score.

It's amazing that a film with so much potential--Christopher Lee as Holmes and Terence Fisher directing... should be a sure winner!--could go so wrong. While Christopher Lee is absolutely right in his opinion that he and Thorley Walters more closely resemble the literary Holmes and Watson than any other on-screen pair, and there's no question that Lee gives a good performance as Holmes, there is very little else that works in this movie.

There are a couple of interesting moments between Holmes and Moriarity (who is played by the appropriately sinister German actor Hans Söhnker), but the downside is that they feel like they belong more in a hard-boiled, pulp fiction detective novel than a Holmes adventure.

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