Sherlock Holmes: ten favourite portrayals

Following yesterday’s look at my choice of Watsons, today I turn to the Great Detective himself, Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a much harder choice to restrict my list of Holmes interpreters to just ten, as probably thirty actors are worth careful consideration.  However, having reflected on my choices, and leaving out a few honorable mentions who might have made a longlist on the topic (Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Stephens, Geoffrey Whitehead, Benedict Cumberbatch, John Barrymore), here’s the final ten.

10. Jonathan Pryce.  Television: Sherlock Holmes & The Baker Street Irregulars (2007).  His Watson was Bill Paterson.  Although only a one-shot appearance, Pryce was a very memorable detective.

pryce holmes

9. Ronald Howard.  Television: Sherlock Holmes (1954-55).  His Watson was Howard Marion-Crawford.  Across the 39 episodes of this low budget series, and helped by an extremely good doctor, Howard was an energetic, keen and young Holmes.

howard holmes

8. Nicol Williamson.  Film: The Seven Per Cent Solution (1976).  His Watson was Robert Duvall.  Nervy, eccentric, and tormented, this one-shot appearance was a keeper, although Duvall’s accent stopped his Watson from being top notch.

nicol

7. John Neville.  Film: A Study in Terror (1965). His Watson was Donald Houston.  Elegant, sardonic, and very tough, Neville’s stage presence comes through in this single appearance of the great Detective.

neville holmes

6. Eille Norwood.  A series of silent films for Stoll (1921-1923).  His Watson was Hubert Willis (and Arthur Cullin in The Sign of Four).  He’s pictured here with Conan Doyle himself.  Norwood was an excellent choice to portray this most complex of characters.

norwood holmes

5. Basil Rathbone.  A Baker’s dozen of films (1939-1946). His Watson was Nigel Bruce.  Although the films might sometimes fail to work, and Bruce’s Watson may be a little on the dozy and comical side, Rathbone was a superb, calm, and sometimes calculating Holmes.

rathbone holmes

4. Peter Cushing.  Film: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959).  Television: Sherlock Holmes (1968).  TV movie: The Masks of Death (1984).  His Watsons were André Morell, Nigel Stock, and John Mills.  Three attempts at the character over a twenty-five year period cannot be ignored.

cushing holmes

3. Arthur Wontner. Five films between 1931 and 1937.  His Watson was Ian Fleming (and Ian Hunter in The Sign of Four).  Although often overlooked, and a little bit old for the part, Wontner was nevertheless excellent, especially in Murder at the Baskervilles aka Silver Blaze.

wontner holmes

2. Douglas Wilmer.  Television: Sherlock Holmes (1965).  His Watson was Nigel Stock.  Only in one series of this BBC classic, Wilmer (who is still living and very astute on the subject of his portrayal of Holmes) was very watchable, if a dour and sarcastic portrayer of the genius sleuth.

wilmer holmes

1. Jeremy Brett.  Four series on television and some TV movies (1984-1994).  His Watsons were David Burke and Edward Hardwick.  It is no exaggeration to say that Brett’s wildly variable performances as Holmes are as definitive as any actor can be.  Simply, he was Sherlock Holmes for a decade, and his films stand up to many rewatches.

brett holmes

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Loud Alien Noize

Revealing the True Origins of Silence

Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies

Blog titling at its best

Emily Baycroft

Freelance Theatre Producer and Administrator

MTAS

WE MADE BADGES COOL AGAIN

A Red Lip And A Nude Shoe

Dior Dreams On A Kmart Budget

is there room for me to sew?

Quilting, Reading and the Movies

The Case for Jeanette and Nelson

"Whaddya gonna do? I love her. I think she loves me." -Nelson Eddy on the Jack Parr Show, 1960

STARDUST AND SHADOWS

Opinions on Classic Hollywood , B Movies, Grindhouse, SF film , Classic Horror, Film Noir, Books, and related subjects by Canadian film guy TERRY SHERWOOD. (This site is not affiliated with author Charles Foster and his book Stardust and Shadows.)

The Wonderful World of Cinema

This blog is all about cinema, movies and stars of every decades. It's wonderful!

Movie classics

Thoughts on older movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s.

Hiss and Tell

Featuring Gryff, the angry diabetic cat, and the humans who serve him

TESSA BARRIE'S LOST BLOGS

LIFE'S TOO SHORT TO BE NICHE ...

[insert title here]

just one of many things i'm still trying to figure out

buchanblog

A trip down Memorex lane

The Phantom Frame

Information about the creative works of Gareth Preston

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Archive Television Musings

"To waste one second of one's life is a betrayal of one's self! I wonder what's on television?"

Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Loud Alien Noize

Revealing the True Origins of Silence

Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies

Blog titling at its best

Emily Baycroft

Freelance Theatre Producer and Administrator

MTAS

WE MADE BADGES COOL AGAIN

A Red Lip And A Nude Shoe

Dior Dreams On A Kmart Budget

is there room for me to sew?

Quilting, Reading and the Movies

The Case for Jeanette and Nelson

"Whaddya gonna do? I love her. I think she loves me." -Nelson Eddy on the Jack Parr Show, 1960

STARDUST AND SHADOWS

Opinions on Classic Hollywood , B Movies, Grindhouse, SF film , Classic Horror, Film Noir, Books, and related subjects by Canadian film guy TERRY SHERWOOD. (This site is not affiliated with author Charles Foster and his book Stardust and Shadows.)

The Wonderful World of Cinema

This blog is all about cinema, movies and stars of every decades. It's wonderful!

Movie classics

Thoughts on older movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s.

Hiss and Tell

Featuring Gryff, the angry diabetic cat, and the humans who serve him

TESSA BARRIE'S LOST BLOGS

LIFE'S TOO SHORT TO BE NICHE ...

[insert title here]

just one of many things i'm still trying to figure out

buchanblog

A trip down Memorex lane

The Phantom Frame

Information about the creative works of Gareth Preston

West End Blog

Bringing you independent, honest, experienced reviews of current theatre shows. We believe theatre is something truly magical and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Archive Television Musings

"To waste one second of one's life is a betrayal of one's self! I wonder what's on television?"

%d bloggers like this: