The Russian TV films
Lenfilm movie studio for Central Television, Leningrad. The series contained five individual films, altogether eleven episodes.
Director - Igor Maslennikov Composer - Vladimir Dashkevitch Camera - Yuri Vexler
1979 Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
· 1st episode: Acquaintance: (based on A Study in Scarlet and The Adventure of the Speckled Band)
· 2nd episode: Bloody Inscription: (based on A Study in Scarlet) 1980 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson
· 1st episode: The Master-Blackmailer: (based on The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton)
· 2nd episode: Deadly Fight: (based on The Adventure of the Final Problem)
· 3rd episode: Hunt for the Tiger: (based on The Adventure of the Empty House) 1981 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Hound of the Baskervilles
· 1st episode
· 2nd episode (both based on The Hound of the Baskervilles)
1983 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Treasures of Agra.
· 1st episode: (based on The Sign of Four and A Scandal in Bohemia)
· 2nd episode: (based on The Sign of Four) 1986 The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. 20th Century Begins.
· 1st episode: (based on The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb and The Adventure of the Second Stain)
· 2nd episode: (based on His Last Bow and The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans)
The Soviet Union had a rich legacy of film-making going back to the very beginning of the cinema age, although few films are seen in the English speaking world. As communications open up, some of these are now becoming available on video and DVD.
While actors such as Ian Richardson and Jeremy Brett in the UK, and Charlton Heston, Frank Langella et al in the USA brought a variety of interpretation to screen and stage, Soviet television quietly produced a series of five films, split into eleven episodes, between 1979 and 1986. A cinema version, Sherlock Holmes in the 20th Century was also made, based on the 1986 episodes.
Russian-language video transfers are available, and so far Charles Prepolec has seen the 1979 and 1983 series. His comments, originally appearing in the Scarlet Street forums, are extracted below. If anyone else has seen this series, we would be very interested to hear your comments.
Review: "...it was fascinating to see the introduction of Holmes to Watson dramatized for the first time since the Ronald Howard series of the early 1950s. There is a very natural interaction between the two leads.. Seeing Holmes and Watson involved in a sparring match at Baker Street was, I must admit, something of a surprise. I was also taken aback to see just how much time was committed to the whole introductory piece of establishing the relationship between the two. "An interesting scene occurs with Watson looking into Holmes bedroom or dressing room. The camera drifts down over a number of pictures of grotesques, that included amongst them Lon Chaney in full Phantom make-up as well as a shot of Fredrick March as Hyde. What I couldn't figure out is whether these were a sort of Rogues Gallery or simply reference photo's for Holmes disguise make-ups. Either way I found it highly amusing! "The flashback as Helen Stoner relates her story is very effective and conjures up a darkly gothic and chilling atmosphere. The sequence where Julia came to her door, half dead, and fell into her sister's arms was incredibly strong. My only real complaint is the murky lighting that is used in most interior shots. The Baker Street rooms have never looked quite so gloomy, otherwise, I loved every moment of it!" - Charles Prepolec