Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Top 10 Sherlock Holmes Films of All Time


With Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Jared Harris, winging its way to theatres Dec. 16, I thought I would take time to re-visit the master sleuth and list my Top 10 Sherlock Holmes flicks. Will Game of Shadows be on next year’s list? We will have to see.

Without further adieu:


sherlock holmes10. Without a Clue (1988): A very silly and very funny ditty starring the delightful Michael Caine. Lots of clever in-jokes for fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as good comedy in general. Caine and Ben Kingsley make a good (dumb) Holmes and (smart) Watson … who hate each other!

Holmes rating: ½ violin out of five


sherlock holmes9. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985): More Indiana Jones than Doyle, but an atmospheric and charming "What if...?" with Nicholas Rowe and a host of good young actors (and no Watcher, for you Marvel Cosmic fans, lol). Great musical score!

Holmes rating: ½ violin


sherlock holmes8. Murder by Decree (1979): IMHO, one of the very best Holmes films ever! Christopher Plummer and James Mason are simply wonderful in a Jack the Ripper plot that could have been awful. Plummer is a rare Holmes to show great emotion effectively.

Holmes rating: 1 violin


sherlock holmes7. They Might Be Giants (1971): A modern-day judge (George C Scott) thinks he's Holmes; his psychiatrist is one Dr Watson (Joanne Woodward). A delightful romantic comedy based on a stage play. Has one of the best final scenes ever!

Holmes rating: 1 violin


sherlock holmes6. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970): Robert Stephens as Holmes in a very odd but very fun film, if you can stand some dry wit. Good, out-of-the-ordinary premise that might have been great with a tighter script.

Holmes rating: 2 violins


sherlock holmes5. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959): Peter Cushing (an acknowledged Sherlockian) and Andre Morrell are a very fine, Doyle-accurate H/W team in a good adaptation that only uses one or two silly Hammer gimmicks. With Cushing, who would expect anything else?

Holmes rating: 2 violins


sherlock holmes4. Sherlock Holmes: Dressed to Kill (1946): The last of the 14 Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies is perhaps not the slickest, but more entertaining than many and very fast-paced. The mystery of music boxes is loosely based on The Dancing Men.

Holmes rating: 2 ½ violins


sherlock holmes3. Sherlock Holmes in the Spider Woman (1944): Very classy original story, based loosely on The Speckled Band and The Sign of Four. Gale Sondergaard is a wonderful villainess, and this may be the least jarring "modernized" Holmes film starring Rathbone. (And no, no early appearances by Jessica Drew, lol.)

Holmes rating: 3 violins


sherlock holmes 2. Sherlock Holmes in Pearl of Death (1944): Of the Universal sequels, this is probably the closest adaptation of its Doyle source story (The Six Napoleons). Great mystery and a better-than-average script, thankfully sans Moriarty. Rathbone is his brilliant self.

Holmes rating: 4 ½ violins


sherlock holmes1. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939): What many (including your humble M.E.) believe to be the best Holmes film ever! It has great atmosphere, Rathbone and Bruce (pre-bumbling oaf) are fantastic!    

Holmes rating: 5 violins!