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AWFUL: Roxburgh terribly miscast as Holmes


Read the Sherlock Holmes stories, particularly THE HOUND, and you will understand why Roxburgh is all wrong as Holmes. The writer who must take the blame for the screenplay has misunderstood, misconceived, and utterly failed to execute anything resembling a faithful Sherlock Holmes adaptation. The same goes for the followup with Rupert Everett. Ian Hart is badly miscast as Watson, as well. Although Roxburgh and Hart might be competent in other roles, they have done themselves no credit here.

When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes he got it right the first time. It doesn't need to be revised or reinvented. The are clear reasons why Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, and Jeremy Brett are so memorable as Holmes. Today, the leading contenders for Holmes are Daniel Day Lewis and Christopher Eccelston. Robert Downey, Jr. need not have applied. He couldn't be more wrong for it.

If you doubt what I'm saying, read the original Holmes stories. They speak for themselves.

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I am a big fan of the Holmes Canon, and while Downey Jr may not fit the physical description of Holmes layed down by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I think he shouldnt be judged until we've seen a little bit more than production stills. That said, Daniel Day Lewis would be fantastic.

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I like some of Downey´s performances very much, but agree that he is completely wrong for Holmes. He is too bland and his air is completely wrong. An actor who plays Holmes needs to have something mysterious about him. Jeremy Brett was perfect. Roxburgh simply does not fit, although he is a good actor when given the right role. But I think that today Jeremy Northam would be perfect as Holmes. He is tall, dark and good looking, and he is able to project a mystery about him –e.g. see him in "The Net".

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Yes, I have considered Jeremy Northam. He is a fine actor and I would not be surprised if he could be a very fine Holmes, although rather too good looking for it. Makeup and lighting could fix that easily enough. Jeremy Brett in his younger days would have been too good looking for it, too.

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agree with the OP

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Given the prejudice of the OP, I should preface this post by saying I've read some of Sir Conan-Doyles' Holmes stories. Including Hound.


Given the performances of Mr Rathbone and Mr Cushing in this role; I think Mr Roxburgh was an excellent choice for Holmes.

In fact, I see this adaptation as my favourite version of The Hound.

This is only my opinion.

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For me the casting of the awful phony cgi hound was the nadir of this adaptation. Also, I found Ian Hart's hat funny on him. Poor fellow, silly looking in it. I wonder why wardrobe made him wear it.

Nothing is more beautiful than nothing.

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I agree with you about Roxburgh and the incessant "re-inventing" that goes on with Holmes. However, I must disagree with you about Downey Jr. Robert is a consummate actor, a real professional that should bring something astonishing to the role. I understand your misgivings, but I think you'll change your mind when you see Downey Jr. in the role.

I have read the entire canon, which I was given on my twelfth birthday. I created the image of Holmes in my mind from the excellent description given by A. Conan Doyle and the superb illustrations by Sidney Paget. I think anyone like me has a hard time seeing almost *any* actor in the lead role, because of that image I/we have built in my/our mind of Holmes.

I would love to see Eccleston as Holmes, his turn as as the title character in Winterbottom's adaptation of Jude was nothing less than remarkable. He would be an excellent Holmes as would Daniel Day Lewis.

I notice you have an affinity for actors of British lineage as the most suitable for Holmes. You are aware, however that Russian actor Vasilii Livanov is considered by many Brits to be the finest Holmes ever, and was awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his portrayal as Holmes in the five films directed by Igor Maslennikov. Have you seen any of these adaptations, dknow3? I believe they are available in their entirety on Youtube. If you haven't seen them, I encourage you to check them out. I don't share the high opinion that some do, but there is no denying that Livanov is quite good as Holmes. The adaptations are a bit too camp for my tastes, but some consider them among the finest, if no the finest ever.

Thanks for your post, dknow3, it is always enjoyable to discuss Holmes with someone who has actually read the canon.


"...nothing is left of me, each time I see her..." - Catullus

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I completely agree with you, dknow3: Roxburgh was all wrong as Holmes and Hart badly miscast as Watson. The screeplay was terrible, and it was entirely the writer's fault, as like you said he misunderstood and misconceived everything that Doyle ever wrote on Holmes. I also fail to see the producers/writers need to revise or reinvent Sherlock Holmes to the newer audiences - it's as if they're saying that the newer audiences are too dumb to understand or apreciate the stories as they were writen! I for one think that the appeal of the Sherlock Holmes stories resides precisely in the fact that they are representative of a passed era, a very uptight, repressed and indeed very complex one. When you try to modernize it, you loose the whole essence, the whole point of the story. It just doesn't make sense.
That's why I think this new Robert Downey Jr. film will be yet another failed attempt to bring Holmes back to the big screen. From what I've seen of the trailers, and from what the screenplay (which I've read) tells me, they reimagined Holmes as an action hero - whith an utter aversion to water and personal higiene and that goes around London shooting people and getting involved into every fist fight he can get his hands to -, who has to fight a megalomaniac villain who comes back from the dead after being hanged for murder. Does that sound like anything Doyle ever wrote, to you? It doesn't, to me. It sounds more like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" all over again. Robert Downey Jr. being a great actor doesn't change the fact that he's completely wrong as Holmes. And I don't need to watch the whole film to know it; anyone who has read the books and seen the trailers knows this.
I have to disagree with you, however, when it comes to Rupert Everett: his Holmes could easly have become the best since Jeremy Brett's untimely demise if only he had injected more energy into it. The screenplay being complete rubbish didn't help, either.
We can only hope that in the near future we'll have the chance to see Daniel Day Lewis, Christopher Eccleston or even Hugh Laurie playing Holmes as he should be played.

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Hugh Laurie? Yikes! You need an actor with great presence, charisma and an air of mystery. Laurie has none of those, neither does Roxburgh which is only part of the reason why he is completely miscast.

Anyway, this is a dreadful production: awful dialogue, terrible script (Beryl's hanging), very poor directing and cinematography. It's not even bad in a way that is "good", i.e. funny-bad, just plain bad. The only thing that is vaguely funny is having an Austrlian Holmes who tries so hard to sound British that he ends up sounding South African with Boston overtones.

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Upon first viewing I thought Richard Roxburgh played Holmes really well. Unfortunately upon subsequent viewings I have found his accent rather "unBritish".

But I would strongly disagree that Roxburgh is not a charismatic actor. He is a fantastic actor who oozes charisma. I don't have much to reference, but Doing Time For Patsy Cline and Rake are both fine examples- YouTube searches pull back trailers and clips.

Incidentally both also star Matt Day (Sir Henry Baskerville)...who has perfected the wide-eyed innocent character over the years! Though I first loved him as the tough street kid Luke Ross in the Aussie soap A Country Practice!

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***Totally*** disagree, Roxburgh BEST Holmes since Brett... I have read the stories and Holmes is not set in stone. Though Daniel Day Lewis would only *beep* the part up the way he *beep* up every part he has ever overacted in.
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Why shd we take advice on sex from the Pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't. -GB Shaw

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Roxburgh best since Brett? Yikes! All I could think of while watching this film was that Richard E. Grant should've been playing Holmes, rather than Stapleton. Talk about perfect casting squandered. Roxburgh was utterly bland, while Grant was clearly born to play the role of Holmes (and yet, no director has thusfar been sane enough to recognize this fact).

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Grant was clearly born to play the role of Holmes (and yet, no director has thusfar been sane enough to recognize this fact


Agreed.

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I thought Roxburgh was ok but Grant would had been awful as he has been caught out now as an actor with limited abilities.

Its that man again!!

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Absolutely and positively true! I would love to see Richard E. Grant playing Holmes. Could be the best one since Brett's. Let's hope some director sees the light!

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So true, so true. Holmes had no personality. Watson’s only personality traits were being sullen and pouty.
The ghastliness of the casting, however, was matched—if not exceeded—by the ghastliness of the screenplay. To begin with there was Holmes’s shooting up in the middle of a case when Doyle’s Holmes only takes drugs to relieve his boredom when he has no case. In one of the interviews on the DVD the director or somebody says they went back to the source by eliminating the deerstalker and the pipe: “these were introduced in theatrical productions. Holmes didn’t smoke a pipe, he smoked cigarettes.” He was right about the deerstalker; but no pipe? This of the man who could be found “smoking his before-breakfast pipe, which was composed of all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the day before, all carefully dried and collected on the corner of the mantelpiece”? Who spoke of the case of the Red-Headed League as a “three-pipe problem”? Yes, he smoked cigarettes as well; but not as often. To go back to the source one has to read the source.
Don’t get me started on the ending. Beryl hanged by her husband. Not Stapleton falling into the swamp he’d boasted of knowing so well, but Holmes falling in and Stapleton just sitting and watching until he’s slain by Watson’s bullet. Where’s the poetic justice in that?
There is comedy, though. Watson, with the use of only one arm and with the aid of an ordinary cloth overcoat, pulling Holmes—up to his neck by now—free of the unrelenting grip of the mire. And even funnier: Watson’s hat, three sizes too big.
We’ve just watched all the versions of Hound that Netflix or our library system can provide. This is without question the worst adaptation of them all.

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