Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson


Director: Aleksandr Rou
Year: 1979
Rating: 6.5
Country: Russia

It appears that somehow the adventures of Sherlock Holmes managed to break through the Iron Curtain in a series of nine or so TV movies produced in Russia starting in 1979 and ending in 2000. They all star Vasiliy Livanov as Holmes and Vitali Solomin as Watson. This is the first one in the series and the first that I have seen. It is up on Youtube along with a few of the others with English subtitles (apparently they were on Amazon Prime at one time). If this first one at 67 minutes is to go by these will be enjoyable additions to the Holmes canon. The interesting thing to me is that the makers of the films didn't try to transfer Holmes to Russia but keep the setting in London at 221 Baker Street with Mrs. Hudson as the landlady in the time period of the books. The production values are solid and Russia - probably St. Petersburg - is close enough to be made to look like London.

This first one takes parts of the Study in Scarlet and mixes it with The Adventure of the Speckled Band. The part from Scarlet is the introduction of Watson to Holmes who is looking for someone to share the expenses of the apartment. We have seen this same chapter in their friendship play out in the first episode of the Sherlock TV series. Watson is a bit of a stiff prig who is shocked that Holmes has no idea who Copernicus is and his theory of the earth revolving around the sun. How does that help me in my work replies Holmes. Watson suspects his work is crime - doing it. Only when a young lady comes to Holmes with a problem does he fully believe that he is in fact a detective. This leads into the Adventure of the Speckled Band which if you are not familiar with you, should read the story.

This was a two-parter on TV and the second part titled The Bloody Inscription returns to the plot of The Study in Scarlet, which was the first Holmes story written by Doyle. A man is found murdered by Scotland Yard - the damn Lestrade - with the word revenge written in blood. Holmes is called in to solve it. When he gets no credit by the newspapers in the end, Watson exclaims that he will write it down and show the world that Holmes caught the killer. This displays a very nice relationship between the two men - Watson is not portrayed as a dimwit as he was so often - which has always annoyed me since he was the one who wrote these fabulous stories (in theory). Their friendship is developing and there is a jovial comradery feeling between the two. Of course, Holmes still beats him in chess and mystifies and annoys Watson with his observations.

I look forward to seeing more of these being the Holmes groupie that I am.