Obviously I love the film, and this recommendation comes from someone who grew up with the 1930s and ’40s Sherlock Holmes pictures, thanks to the regular rotation of old movies on every TV station in the 1950s and ’60s. After our 13-inch black-and-white Philco brought the Basil Rathbone franchise into my world, it was — and still is — hard to think of the character without seeing Rathbone in my mind. (Although it’s also hard not to agree with the critical consensus that Nigel Bruce’s portrayal of Watson as a bumbling comic-relief character was so untrue to the novels as to be occasionally off-putting.)
Over the years I’ve also enjoyed the wide array of Holmes films that followed, especially Peter Cushing in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (1959), Billy Wilder’s “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (1970) and “Murder By Decree” (1979), with Christopher Plummer as Holmes and James Mason as Watson in pursuit of Jack the Ripper.
And I found pleasure in the offbeat comic riffs “They Might Be Giants” (1971), with George C. Scott as a reclusive millionaire who thinks he’s Holmes and Joanne Woodward as his psychiatrist, Dr. Watson, and “Without a Clue” (1988), with Ben Kingsley’s Watson hiring an out-of-work actor, played by Michael Caine, to impersonate his literary creation, Holmes.
There are many more, of course. In fact, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Holmes has been the subject of 255 movie and television interpretations, holding the record as the literary human character most often portrayed onscreen. (Although a non-human character eclipses him for the overall record: Dracula, with 272 depictions.)
That’s a lot of Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows, ranging from a 1900 silent short to the most recent movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and two first-rate but very different TV updates, BBC’s “Sherlock” and the CBS series “Elementary.”
And it is no doubt, thanks to the popularity of these recent shows, that “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” has finally made its way to Blu-ray and DVD, and hopefully to a new audience that will discover it as a delightful addition to their Holmes experience.
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