Hands Of A Murderer (Sherlock Holmes/1990)
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.
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
- Nicholas Sheffo