Every era has had the Sherlock Holmes it wanted or needed—except the 1970s. In that wild decade, all bets were off . . .
The popular image of Sherlock Holmes derives as much from the actors who portrayed the detective as it does from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories and Sidney Paget’s famous illustrations. In earlier and subsequent decades this image was defined by a single stage or screen actor (from William Gillette and Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch), but nine films made in the ’70s re-imagine Sherlock Holmes in starkly divergent ways, from the boldly inventive to the flat-out irreverent. He is variously portrayed as gay (Robert Stephens), crazy (George C. Scott), pompous (Stewart Granger), petulant (Gene Wilder), vulnerable (Nicol Williamson), camp (Roger Moore) wrong-headed (John Cleese), silly (Peter Cook), and socially conscious (Christopher Plummer). Yet all these films contribute in their own way to casting new light on the legend.
Derham Groves offers an entertaining and absorbing account of these films, packed with shrewd analysis and insights, background details, numerous illustrations, and behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
Derham Groves is a Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Melbourne, and has been a member of the Baker Street Irregulars since 1985. He has published numerous books on architecture, popular culture, and Sherlock Holmes.