Elementary, my dear Watson. Or perhaps not.

Having recently re-watched the first Holmes movie with Robert Downey, Jr. and having devoured “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch some time before, I put out a poll to my Facebook circle of friends: Which Holmes did you like best?

Despite being only 4 days in, Mr. Cumberbatch leads by an overwhelming margin of 24 to 4… but the comments at the poll indicated that there were others who might have fared even better. So I went digging and found as many Sherlocks as I could see (and I may have missed a few in spite of it all, although I suspect these are perhaps the best known); I was astonished to see how many superb actors undertook the iconic rôle, but given the excellence of their craft it was understandable.

I present them here for your gratuitous viewing pleasure.

Who do you think did the best Holmes? Do your homework. There will be a quiz (actually, it’s the poll at the end.)

Viggo Larsen
Sherlock Holmes i Livsfare 
1908

Alwin Neuß
Sherlock Holmes
1908

Henry Arthur Saintsbury
The Valley of Fear
1916

Eille Norwood
The Yellow Face
1921

John Barrymore
Sherlock Holmes
1922

Clive Brook
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
1929

Arthur Wontner
Sherlock Holmes Fatal Hour
1931

Raymond Massey
The Speckled Band
1931

Reginald Owen
A Study in Scarlet
1933

Bruno Güttner
The Hound of the Baskervilles
1937

Louis Hector
The Three Garridebs
1937

Basil Rathbone
The Hound of the Baskervilles
1939
Probably the most definitive Holmes of my parents’ generation

Alan Napier
The Speckled Band
1949

Alan Wheatley
Sherlock Holmes
1951

Ronald Howard
Sherlock Holmes
1954

Peter Cushing
The Hound of the Baskervilles
1959

Christopher Lee
Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace
1962

Douglas Wilmer
Detective
1964

John Neville
A Study in Terror
1965

Robert Stephens
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
1970

Radovan Lukavský
Touha Sherlocka Holmese
1971

Stewart Granger
The Hound of the Baskervilles
1972

John Cleese
Comedy Playhouse;
Elementary, My Dear Watson:
The Strange Case of the Dead Solicitors

1973

Leonard Nimoy
The Interior Motive – Stage Play
1975

Roger Moore
Sherlock Holmes in New York
1976

Nicol Williamson
The Seven Percent Solution
1976

Christopher Plummer
The Sunday Drama
1977

Vasiliy Livanov
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson:
The Acquaintance
1980

Tom Baker
The Hound of the Baskervilles Series
1982

Guy Henry
Young Sherlock: The Mystery of the Manor House
1982

Peter O’Toole
Burbank films, Animated
1983

Ian Richardson
The Hound of the Baskervilles
1983

Jeremy Brett
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
1984
By far the most popular suggestion from my poll-takers.

Nicholas Rowe
Young Sherlock Holmes
1985

Brent Spiner
TNG “Elementary, Dear Data”
1988

Michael Caine
Without a Clue
1988

Michael Pennington
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
1989

Anthony Higgins
Sherlock Holmes Returns
1993

Matt Frewer
The Hound of the Baskervilles
2000
A good fit for Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a time-traveling con-man in Star Trek. As Holmes? Not so much.

Joaquim de Almeida
The Xango from Baker Street
2001

James D’Arcy
Sherlock
2002

Richard Roxburgh
The Hound of the Baskervilles
2002

Rupert Everett
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking
2004

Jonathan Pryce
Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars
2007

Robert Downey, Jr.
Sherlock Holmes
2009
Perfect Holmes for the Guy Richie vehicle;
Jude Law was a great Watson as well.

Benedict Cumberbatch
Sherlock
2010
You could not ask for a more exquisite “high-functioning sociopath.”

Ben Syder
Sherlock Holmes
2010

Jonny Lee Miller
Elementary
2012

Gary Piquer
Holmes & Watson. Madrid Days
2012

Igor Petrenko
Sherlock Holmes; Russian series
2013

Kōichi Yamadera
Sherlock Holmes
2014

Ian McKellen
Mr. Holmes
2015

Yoshimitsu Tagasuki
Shisha no teikoku
2015

Will Ferrell
Holmes and Watson
2018
Perhaps the most maligned Holmes outside of Matt Frewer,
but this film was not intended to be taken seriously.

So now, you must choose. But choose… wisely.

The Old Wolf has spoken, and will be interested to see the results.

4 responses to “Elementary, my dear Watson. Or perhaps not.

  1. I can’t answer your poll as I only remember having seen Downey in that role, but I am truly amazed how many movies with different actors have been filmed.
    Have a great weekend,
    Pit

  2. Part of me really wants to throw a spanner in the works and answer something like Brent Spiner or Michael Caine or Roger Moore or John Cleese. But I won’t. Still and all, looking through the list is fascinating, and a good many of them invite comment.

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