“He clapped his hand into his pocket, and I raised the pistol from the table. But he merely drew out a memorandum-book in which he had scribbled some dates. ‘”You crossed my path on the 4th of January,” said he.’ (“The Final Problem’)
Matthew “Matt” Frewer
Perhaps most famous for his role as the 1980s television icon “Max Headroom,” a fictional British artificial intelligence, Matt Frewer took on—what might be considered by some to be—a similar role, when he starred as Sherlock Holmes in four Hallmark Television productions from 2000-2002, appearing opposite Kenneth Walsh, as Dr. John Watson. Productions included The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000), The Sign of Four (2001), A Royal Scandal (2001, a story adapted from both “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Bruce-Partington Plans,”) and The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002).
In an interview with David Stuart Davies, Frewer said: “. . .playing Holmes is rather like Hamlet. It’s a horse that’s been ridden by many jockeys and there’s a certain responsibility with it—particularly to the audience, because they have certain expectations. But I think once those preconceptions are satisfied, then you can bring your own stuff to the dance and hopefully I’ve done that.”
Compared to his co-star’s portrayal of Dr. Watson, Frewer’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes was not nearly as well received by critics. Called “exaggerated” and “controversial” by some, and by Sherlock Holmes—The Detective Magazine: “[Frewer] rollercoasters his sentences with erratic pitches of volume and varying speeds of delivery while manipulating his lean face into a series of exaggerated Bertie Wooster expressions.”
Frewer was born on January 4, 1958 in Washington, D.C.
OTD in 1943 Universal releases Sherlock Holmes & Secret Weapon with Rathbone and Bruce.
Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) pretends to be a Nazi spy to aid scientist Dr. Franz Tobel (William Post Jr.) and his new invention, a bombsight, in escaping a Gestapo trap in Switzerland. Holmes and Franz fly to London, where Holmes places him under the protection of his friend, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce). The scientist slips away against Holmes’ instructions for a secret reunion with his fiancee, Charlotte Eberli (Kaaren Verne), and gives her an envelope containing a coded message. He tells Charlotte to give it to Holmes if anything should happen to him. Leaving Charlotte’s apartment, an attempt to abduct him by German spies is foiled by a passing London bobby.
Tobel successfully demonstrates the bombsight for Sir Reginald Bailey (Holmes Herbert) and observers from Bomber Command. Tobel, now under the protection of Inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) and Scotland Yard, tells Sir Reginald that, although willing to provide the British with his bombsight, only he will know its secret and has a complex plan for its manufacture to keep the secret safe. He separates his invention into four parts and gives one to each of four Swiss scientists, known only to him, to construct separately and whose names are unknown to each other. Soon after, Holmes receives a call from Lestrade telling him that Tobel has disappeared. Holmes goes to Charlotte’s flat, where he receives Tobel’s envelope. Rather than the coded message, the message inside is from Holmes’ nemesis, master criminal Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill), who is now working for the Germans.
Disguising himself as Ram Singh, one of Moriarty’s old henchmen, Holmes searches the Soho district for information. He encounters two henchmen Peg Leg (Harold De Becker) and Jack Brady (Harry Cording), but is captured by Moriarty. Holmes is put into the false bottom of a sea chest, but is rescued when Watson and Lestrade observe the henchmen struggling with its unusual weight. Holmes returns to Charlotte’s flat to search for clues to the message’s contents. He finds impressions of the message left on a notepad page by immersing it in “fluorescent salts… and then photograph(ing) it by ultraviolet light.” Holmes breaks the first three lines of a cunningly modified alphabet substitution code, which are the identities and locations of three of the scientists, but unable to break the fourth line, which has been altered as an added precaution, soon learns that Moriarty has murdered all three and stolen their parts. Meanwhile, Moriarty, also unable to break the fourth line, tortures Tobel for the name of the fourth scientist. Holmes deduces the change in the code and breaks the fourth line, identifying the scientist as Professor Frederick Hoffner (Henry Victor).
Moriarty accidentally deciphers the code. He sends agents to abduct Hoffner, who has the brilliance to put the four parts together should Tobel not recover from torture. The German agents bring the scientist, who is actually Holmes in disguise again, to Moriarty’s seemingly undetectable stronghold. Unknown to Moriarty, Holmes had the real Hoffner attach an apparatus to their car that drips luminous paint (which Watson helped prepare) at regular intervals. Holmes uses Moriarty’s vanity and pride to trick him into slowly bleeding Holmes to death “drop by drop”, to stall for time. Holmes is saved at the last minute, however, by Watson and Lestrade, who with Hoffner’s help, successfully followed the drops. Scotland Yard apprehends the spies, but Moriarty escapes. When he attempts to complete his escape through a secret passageway, he falls sixty feet to his death; Holmes has discovered the criminal’s hidden trap door and left it open. With Tobel saved and the bombsight recovered, Watson notes that things “are looking up… this little island is still on the map”.
Directed by Roy William Neill Written by W. Scott Darling & Edward T. Lowe Jr Screenplay by Edmund L. Hartmann Based onThe Adventure of the Dancing Men 1903 short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Produced by Howard Benedict Cinematography Lester White Edited by Otto Ludwig Music by Frank Skinner Production company Universal Pictures Distributed by Universal Pictures Running time 68 minutes
(restored version) Country United States Language English Budget $200,000
- Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
- Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson
- Lionel Atwill as Professor Moriarty
- Kaaren Verne as Charlotte Eberli
- William Post Jr. as Dr Franz Tobel
- Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade
- Holmes Herbert as Sir Reginald Bailey
- Mary Gordon as Mrs. Hudson
- Henry Victor as Dr. Frederick Hoffner
This is the second Basil Rathbone “Sherlock Holmes” film in which Moriarty dies. He is thrown to his death from the top of the Tower of London by Holmes in 1939’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. During the course of the adventure, Holmes adopts the disguises of an elderly German bookseller (taken from the Arthur Conan Doyle story The Adventure of the Empty House), the lascar sailor Ram Singh, and the Swiss scientist Professor Hoffner. His disguise as the bookseller was parodied in the film The Pink Panther.
This film marks the first appearance of Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade – the Scotland Yard detective who, with Watson, provides much of the comic relief in six of the films of the series.
Though the film is credited as an adaptation of “The Dancing Men“, there is little resemblance between the two other than the code. It is implied that the events of “The Dancing Men” are canon with the events of the film, as Watson is reminded of “a case [they] had some years ago”.
Lionel Atwill appeared previously in the film The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) as Dr Mortimer.