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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > British Telefilm > TV > Hands Of A Murderer (Sherlock Holmes)

Hands Of A Murderer (Sherlock Holmes/1990)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Telefilm: C+



Sherlock Holmes adaptations always seem to surprise just in the kinds of casts they attract and Hands Of a Murderer (1990) is no exception.  It pairs Edward Woodward (The Equalizer) as Holmes and John Hillerman (Higgins from Magnum, P.I.) as Dr. Watson.  It also offers Anthony Andrews in a surprisingly lively as the evil Moriarty, Peter Jeffrey playing against type (he was usually the great villain in many an Avengers episode, if not an eccentric in other films and TV shows) as Holmes (supposedly smarter,) older brother Mycroft and Warren Clarke (the thug Dim from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange) as a Colonel with secrets to protect for Her Majesty’s Government.


Great cast.  Charles Edward Pogue’s teleplay involves a crazy plot where Moriarty escapes a federal death sentence, then has Mycroft kidnapped!  For the most part, this is smart fun, but it is not as action-packed as expected and a few things about the ending are off a bit.  The film runs about 90 minutes and could have been longer, plus, it looks like this might have been an ambitious attempt to launch a Holmes TV series.  Too bad that did not happen, because this could have been a series and one that worked, even if it only lasted a couple of seasons.  Mystery and Holmes fans will enjoy it at least but for everyone else, it is a curio worth a look.


The 1.33 X 1 image is not bad for its age and is from a clean copy of the telefilm, shot on Agfa XT Negative, a film stock brand not used very much.  Rank processed the color, so it is an interesting combination, as shot by Ken Westbury, B.S.C. (from the original British TV version of Pennies From Heaven) and is accompanied by good production design by Malcolm Middleton who has impressed before with his Art Director work on Outland (1981) and Bugsy Malone (1976, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and who did his earliest production design on memorable TV classic like Dr. Who and Adam Adamant Lives! for British TV in the 1960s.  Extras include a weblink, text cast and credits and text biographies for the three male leads.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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