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The Return of Sherlock Holmes - The Second Stain [VHS]

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Rosalie Williams, Colin Jeavons, Denis Lill
  • Writers: John Hawkesworth
  • Producers: John Hawkesworth, Rebecca Eaton
  • Format: Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Mpi Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: December 15, 1994
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630161173X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,103 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Arguably the most entertaining and satisfying episode from the entire Granada Television series about Sherlock Holmes, The Second Stain finds Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous sleuth facing intertwining problems, each with very different consequences. On the one hand, a saber-rattling letter to the British government from a "foreign potentate" has disappeared from the hands of the Rt. Honorable Trelawney Hope (Stuart Wilson), which could incite a major war if it turns up in some visible way. On the other hand, Hope's wife, Lady Hilda (Patricia Hodge), appears to know something about the letter's disposition, but she won't say on pain of some undefined disaster to her marriage. Holmes (Jeremy Brett in his finest hour) and Dr. Watson (a wonderful performance by Edward Hardwicke) can't unravel one mystery without tackling the other, and then there is a murder to boot. The results are well worth the story complications that ensue. The look of epiphany on Brett's face when the ever-clueless Inspector Lestrade (Colin Jeavons) tells Holmes about an odd detail in the murder victim's home--the placement of a certain bloodstained rug doesn't correspond to the location of the soaked-through stain on the floor below--is enormous fun. --Tom Keogh

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One of the top entries in this series, and Brett continues to imbue his already flawless Holmes with still more interesting facets. A stolen letter, from a foreign hot-head, disappears from a government officials's dispatch box. Both the hapless official AND the Prime Minister (Harry Andrews in an impeccable performance) are terrified: it means war should the contents become public. Holmes realizes that too much time has elapsed for the letter to remain secret, so "prepare for war," he advises. A following visit from the official's furtive wife intrigues Holmes and Watson further, but they will not compromise the British government for the sake of a woman's wiles -- and still the contents don't surface and so there just might be a chance. A well timed murder becomes the catalyst, and so -- the adventure begins. Grenada has never been in finer form than with this terrific Victorian mystery. The cast plays with seasoned perfection (Colin Jeavons joins in again expertly as the waste-of-time Inspector Lestrade) and the results are wonderful! Edward Hardwicke remains as comfortable as a favorite slipper in playing Watson, and Brett's iconoclastic detective is just a joy to watch (his dismissive -- and dangerous -- match-tossing, scrambling and snorting on the Lucas parlor floor, etc.)! Listen to Patrick Gowers beautiful musical motif for Lord Bellinger and just enjoy this excellent and all too brief visit back in time to the Victorian wonderland of Sherlock Holmes.
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Perhaps the strongest cast assembled for a single episode. An enthralling story with particular cogent performances delivered by Jeremy Brett,Colin Jeavons,Sean Scanlan and Patricia Hodge.
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When Sherlock Holmes is approached by the Prime Minister himself, it looks to be the start of the greatest case of his life. A very important letter is missing from the Secretary for European Affair’s dispatch box, and it is not too much to say that its publication would propel Britain into a major war. Only three men in England would handle such a document, and when one of them suddenly turns up dead, Holmes casts his eyes in that direction. And though the dead man does not have the letter, there is a mystery connected with his death – where he died there was blood on the carpet but not on the floor beneath, but looking elsewhere there is a second stain. There are mysteries within mysteries here, mysteries that only Sherlock Holmes can solve!

Every once in a while, an actor comes along who not only plays the role of Sherlock Holmes, but actually redefines the role. In 1984, veteran actor Jeremy Brett (1933-95) actually did it yet again! This fifty-minute episode, the Second Stain, was episode four of the third season, and originally aired on July 30, 1986. As an added bonus, a main character is played by Patricia Hodge, who also played Phyllida “Portia” Erskine-Brown in the Rumpole series. (By the way, if you like Jeremy Brett, you can see him in an entirely different role in My Fair Lady (1964) as Freddie Eynsford-Hill!)

I loved this tape and think that any fan of Sherlock Holmes, or just plain fan of mysteries, will love it, too. My family and I highly recommend it to you!
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"The Second Stain" is based on Sir A. Conan Doyle's famous short story and adapted to a movie.

Two high government officials visit Holmes on an important matter, a missing official document. Mr. Trelawney Hope explains its importance. "Who else knew about it?" Its publication could mean war! [Note their restrained language.] Mrs. Hope arrives later. A foreign agent was found murdered! A coincidence? Why is this letter held bak? Holmes and Watson visit the murder scene to see a stained rug. Who shifted it? Constable MacPherson explains. Holmes and Watson visit Mrs. Hope for a talk. She tells what happened! Later Mr. Hope finds the letter in his dispatch box! How did this happen? "We too have our diplomatic secrets" says Holmes. [Was this Doyle's comment on the personal lives of the aristocracy?]
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I would have a hard time saying that this is one of the best in the series. There is very little suspense, Watson's role is smaller than usual, and I'm not sure the story holds up.
Still, this episode does have several features to recommend it. First, the comical Inspector Lestrade is at his best. Second, Brett's facial expressions are masterful. In fact, this may be his best performance. Third, the story is both deadly serious (consider that Conan Doyle wrote this 15 years before WWI) and hilarious, with Holmes' sexism and carelessness with matches providing good laughs.
In my opinion, The Hound is still the best in the series, but you really can't go wrong with any of them.
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