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Its Always Nice to See Charlton Heston
on May 2, 2010
Being a Sherlock Holmes fan, I saw "The Crucifer of Blood" when it opened on Broadway during the 1980s. I remember thinking that it was enjoyable although nothing great. I later read that Charlton Heston was starring in the play in Los Angeles and thought how much I would have liked to see him play Holmes. Well I got my chance when this made-for-tv version was produced for TNT. This film was produced, written and directed by Heston's son Fraser. I remember thinking it was okay when I originally saw it on tv and my opinion hasn't changed after seeing it on dvd last night.
The plot is basically a rerun of Conan Doyle's "The Sign of the Four." Even though it was filmed in London and has some decent sets and large amounts of fog rolled in, this is obviously not a big budget production. Heston is basically miscast as Holmes. However he was such a fine actor and a great American that I really didn't mind. Richard Johnson is terrible as Watson, back to portraying the good doctor as a pathetic buffoon, falling madly in love with and making goo-goo eyes at a young woman half his age, after knowing her for about an hour. (It was so wonderful not to see Watson portrayed as a fool in the Grenada Sherlock Holmes films with Jeremy Brett, the greatest Sherlock Holmes ever.) The actor who portrays Inspector Lestrade portrays him as a low-grade moron. (Holmes even refers to him as "comic relief.")Edward Fox and John Fraser overact outrageously as the two main victims of the curse. The one true bright spot is an actress named Susannah Harker as the femme-fatale of the plot (and Watson's budding love interest.) She is very good (and looks quite fetching at the conclusion.) I'm not sure if I have seen her in anything other than this.
As stated, this is a fairly enjoyable way to spend an hour and forty minutes, nothing more and nothing less. And while Heston was probably the most miscast Sherlock Holmes since Roger Moore in "Sherlock Holmes in New York," it still was a pleasure to see this great actor again. He is missed.