The most famous Sherlock Holmes adaptations

The most famous Sherlock Holmes adaptations

Sherlock Holmes, the famous Baker Street detective, has captivated readers around the world. It is no wonder that he eventually moved from the pages of books to the movie and TV screens.

Which adaptations are the most famous? When did the creators stick strictly to the source material and when did they deviate from it?

Perfect for the movie screen

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the first story about the brilliant detective in 1886. At the time, he had no idea what a phenomenon he had created. But Sherlock's fame was not long in coming. In the 20th century, he logically came to the attention of filmmakers.

It is estimated that Sherlock Holmes is one of the most portrayed characters in film history.

The earliest works

Incredibly, the first Sherlock appeared on the screen already in 1900. The film was called Sherlock Holmes Baffled and it was a 30-second sketch that certainly thrilled audiences of the time.

From today's perspective, of course, it doesn't have much to offer us anymore, apart from an interesting probe into the very beginnings of cinema.

The first significant full-length film was The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1939. Here the famous detective was played by the charismatic actor Basil Rathbone. He reprised the role many more times. The Hound of the Baskervilles started a series of 14 films based on Doyle's stories.

An unexpected rival

The makers of 1965's A Study in Terror allowed themselves a certain departure from the books. The famous Jack the Ripper (whom Holmes never met in the books) becomes the famous detective's adversary.

This horror film, starring John Neville, probably inspired the writers of Murder on the Level (1979), where Christopher Plummer's Sherlock also takes on London's arch-nemesis Jack the Ripper.

A modern take on

The twenty-first century has favoured modernisation, so the classic hero begins to conquer the cinema screens in Hollywood style. In 2009, the first such film is Sherlock Holmes, cut by Robert Downey Jr. The spectacle offered action-packed fight scenes in addition to the detective's deductive skills.

A sequel followed two years later, subtitled Game of Shadows. The third film is expected to see the light of day in 2024.

Sherlock in the series

The series' Sherlock Holmes was inevitably portrayed by British actor Jeremy Brett in the 1980s. He appeared in the multi-part series From the Sherlock Holmes Archives, The Return of Sherlock Homes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

The individual episodes were fairly faithful to the source material and did not lack the typical mysterious atmosphere of 19th century London.

Another famous venture, on the other hand, leaves Victorian England behind. In the series Sherlock (2010-2017), the protagonist, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, struggles with criminals in the present day. There is no shortage of modern technology and instead of the typical cab, Sherlock uses a taxi to get around London. This daring work has become a worldwide hit.


Czech trail

Sherlock Holmes also flashed through Czech cinema. In 1992, the television film The Climbing Professor was made. It was directed by Zdeněk Zelenka and the central duo of Holmes and Watson were played by Viktor Preiss and Josef Somr.

Although it is a detective story, the story also has a slightly comedic undertone.