Paramount Pictures released Young Sherlock Holmes to theaters on December 4, 1985. Barry Levinson directed the film starring Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, and Sophie Ward.
‘Young Sherlock Holmes’ Movie Summary
Welcome to jolly-ol’ Victorian-era London, England in the dead of winter. A dark and continually-jingling baddy, wearing a very suspicious dark cloak and hood, using a one-of-a-kind Egyptian blowgun, shoots an old gent. The two-inch poisonous dart magically disappears for the victim who immediately hallucinates in front of a bunch of people who offer no help to the poor lunatic who is obviously in distress. The victim goes home and continues to hallucinate himself into a very tragic and violent death.
Thus begins our tale of Young Sherlock Holmes with a vanity card proudly proclaiming, “The following story is original and is not specifically based on the exploits of Sherlock Holmes as described in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” That’s right. American producer Steven Spielberg, American director Barry Levinson, and American screenwriter Chris Columbus chose to completely ignore Sir Conan Doyle’s canon of 56 short stories and four novels, countless adaptations in print and movies, and instead created something brand-new and gave the characters the iconic names of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. That’s like taking Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and having a well-intentioned Russian writing their exploits in his native tongue. It makes no sense. But I digress…
The story picks up with an elderly Dr. Watson merrily narrating as high-school-aged Watson arrives at boarding school and immediately meets the violin-struggling Young Sherlock Holmes. Within seconds we find out: Holmes has not mastered the violin in three days, he has a nasty habit of meeting people and promptly offending them by telling the person all about themselves by the tiniest details, and the pudgy Watson enjoys custard tarts. It is a rousing beginning.
Basically, Holmes lusts after the only non-kidnapped teenage woman in the entirety of London. She is also the niece of the crackpot on campus, Professor Waxflatter. Young Sherlock learns all is powers of deduction from the crazy… I mean lovably eccentric professor, who tries to fly a physics-defying airplane not once but twice off the roof and crashes horribly without a single bruise. Holmes fences with the impossibly dashing arts teacher, Professor Rathe, and he proves to be an equal with the sword.
The school bully challenges Holmes to find a fencing trophy, and he uses the most ridiculously planted clues to locate it at the very last second. The niece and her dog are out for a walk and happen to be the only people hearing the bell-jingling baddy and give chase around the all-boys’ school courtyard. All the main characters of the movie are employees or related somehow to the boarding school and hang out together in scene after scene because, you know, nobody else really matters in the story.Read the Full Summary
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