Saturday, 24 March 2012

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE

CONTAINS SPOILERS AND A SENSE OF A WASTED OPPORTUNITY

There's every indication that the legend that is Sir Christopher Lee could have been a brilliant cinema Sherlock and this movie might have been a half-decent stab at the great detective. But it doesn't turn out that way. It's not just that it's pretty grim to look at (black and white never hurt the Rathbones) and nobody's having any fun, or the pacing is off throughout and they've again turned Dr Watson (Thorley Walters) into an incompetent old buffer in the Nigel Bruce tradition - he's supposed to be a doctor from the British Army, not an buffoonish mad uncle. The principal problem is that it's a German film shot silently and dubbed afterwards, but neither Lee or Walters were available to revoice themselves.

Sherlock Holmes And The Deadly Necklace ends up leagues below all but the shabbiest of the Rathbones. And it boasts a particularly rubbish title, in that the necklace in question isn't deadly. It's actually Cleopatra's necklace and Professor Moriarty (mispronouced throughout as "Moriarrity") will kill to acquire it, starting with the archaeologists who dug it up. Holmes is on the case of exposing Moriarrity as a villain anyway, hanging round the docks dressed as a sailor with an eyepatch. But can Holmes retrieve the necklace and prove his theory once and for all?

There are some neat bits of deduction, but not really enough of them, and you only get hints of the duel of wits between the master detective and the master criminal. The big problem remains the English language dub which loses the gloriously rich dark Lee tones, and the dubbing artiste hasn't even made a stab at emulating them: there's every indication that a terrific Holmes has literally been reduced to a shadow. Lee looks great in the part but as soon as he speaks he's saddled with the standard transatlantic sound of a thousand old spaghetti Westerns and kung fu movies. Worse, whenever Holmes is in disguise the dubious dubber has elected to give him the voice of Louis Spence, a choice so completely at odds with the sight of Christopher Lee that it suggests the dubber never saw the footage he was revoicing. It kills the movie stone dead and destroys whatever virtues it might have had. Co-directed by Terence Fisher in 1962.

**

You can buy the DVD here:

1 comment:

buddy2blogger said...

Nice review of the movie!

Christoper Lee is a legend, having played Sherlock Holmes (twice), Mycroft Holmes, Saruman, Count Dooku and a James Bond villain!

Have you tried the Russian adaptation with Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes.

Cheers!