who was the better sherlock holmes - jeremy brett or basil rathbone?

That was Ian Richardson in Murder Rooms, playing Dr Joseph Bell.

While flipping through the cable channels on my television set, I came across a Russian production of a Sherlock Holmes story. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the production and acting, and I would like to see more of the series.

See http://www.bakerstreetdozen.com/russianholmes.html

Peter Cook!


Jerem,y Brett resembles the literary Holmes far, far more closely than Basil Rathbone did. He plays him much closer to the idea in the books, and the scripts are much more faithful. Rathbone’s Holmes, aside from the first two (The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) were set in what was then present-day England, and the plots were vastly changed. Buit that’s not Rathbone’s fault, and he can’t be held responmsible. Nevertheless, Brett’s interpretation seems ro me much closer to what Doyle had in mind. And I love the two Watsons they had (although I prefer the first of them. The other seemed a bit too old).
**Bosda ** writes:

Surely you can’t mean this. Aside from any error in the greenery (which I don’t recall, by the way) it was admitrably played, and surely far better than the last episodes where they padded it out to boring length (Sussex Vampire, Master Blackmailer), or the very sad ones where Brett was ill, and they brought in Mycroft to effectively take over.

Here is a link to Camden House’ Complete Sherlock Holmes. It has the original illustrations, go take a look at them to see for yourselves. Jeremy Brett looks a LOT like those drawings, and I think he pulled off how Holmes behaved in general much better then Basil. Also, Bretts’ accent was much more firmly in place than Basil’s. :wink:


When Holmes & Watson, wearing heavy Victorian Winter clothing, walk by a garden, with roses, in full bloom, I don’t care if Barrymore is performing, it just looks dumb! :smack:

And for this you condemn an entire episode, when there are so many more apt condidates?

Yes, dammit!

If you are making a show about Arctic Explorers, & they shuffle past a camel on their snowshoes, something is wrong! :dubious:

All the same, the question is about acting skill. And, your complaint should also be turned to Basil, since he couldn’t maintain a proper upperclass British accent for a short scene. That also, is very incongrous. :wink:

Hmm – we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

I’ll watch that episode over and over, whether there are Snow Roses in it or not. It’s a nicely done episode of Sherlock Holmes. Heck, I have watched it many times.) But you couldn’t pay me to watch the Vampire one again,.

I’ll add, not only does Basil not maintain his accent, but he also used slang speech in the movie I saw where he portrayed Sherlock Holmes. It was horrible, not convincing at all.

Excuse me, but This Illustration by Mr. Paget looks, to me, uncannily like Basil Rathbone.

Brett by a KO.

And this is from a person who owns all the Rathbone movies and all the Brett episodes.

Biggest problem in the comparison has been mentioned earlier in an oblique manner. With the 1 exception of the Hound of the Baskervilles, all the Rathbone movies were basically hodge-podge bullshit stories (most of them set in the wrong time period). The “realism” of the Brett canon is hard to overcome.

Brett, by a country mile. Not to be crass, but it takes a broderline madman to truly get inside the hollow man that is Sherlock Holmes, and Brett was it. In addition to the already-mentioned bipolar disorder, Brett had a hunger for authenticity that was downright, well, Holmesian: he always kept the Canon at his side when working (heavily annotated with his own notes and observations), and would frequently point out inconsistencies or incongruities to the production staff. He developed a complex backstory for Holmes that he hinted at in occasional interviews; I think it’s a great shame he never committed it to paper before he died. Anyway, the point is, Brett threw himself into the part with everything he had; he inhabited the character in a way few people have ever done, I think. His Holmes has an energy that just jumps off the screen.

Much as I love Rathbone, in this contest, I find I like Brett much better as Holmes.

As an aside, the UK satellite channel UKTVGold had an entire weekend of the Brett series. Sadly my g/f dislikes the series :rolleyes:

Does either Brett or Rathbone ever say, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”?

My DVR is set to record every episode of the A&E series on the biography channel. I love Brett as Holmes and can watch every episode over and over.

The quick little barks of laughter or the tiny smiles are a major show of emotion to a very dry character. He does it impeccably.

David Burke’s Watson has the slight edge - Watson’s hard to play, since he has no real stage business: hence Nigel Bruce making him a bumbling fool simply in order to have something - anything - to do rather than just stand around and have Holmes explain things to him.

But Burke’s portrayal managed to transcend that: his Watson was tough, shrewd, humourous, sympathetic, a man of the world - he managed to give the impression that he indulged Holmes’ eccentricities as a kind of minder, and that he served as Holmes’ one connection to humanity.

Exactly! I love those moments.

Brett nailed the part - far, far better than Rathbone. Brett had the courage and fierce devotion to the character to play Holmes as Conan Doyle wrote him, with all his faults: arrogant, narcissistic, driven, a bit antisocial, more than a little cynical, and so brilliant as to almost be scary. It’ll be a long time before Brett’s interpretation of the role is displaced as THE authoritative one.