The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Twentieth Century Approaches (Igor Maslennikov, 1986)

Eclipse LogoIgor Maslennikov concludes his Sherlock Holmes cycle with his most ambitious adaptation, weaving together no less than four of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales into an epic film of spies and secrets.  Set against the backdrop of increasing tensions between European nations, The Twentieth Century Approaches sees Holmes and Watson return from apparent retirement to investigate foreign counterfeiters, track down diplomatic papers and submarine plans, and thwart German agents working on British soil.  Maslennikov contrasts Holmes’s highly personal and methodical approach to his investigations against the accelerating and arousing technological advances of mass media to produce an insightful and reflexive view of a changing era.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Treasures of Agra (Igor Maslennikov, 1983)

Eclipse LogoIgor Maslennikov merges Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Sign of the Four and his story “A Scandal in Bohemia” to create the fourth film in his Sherlock Holmes cycle, The Treasures of Agra.  Here, Holmes ruminates on having matched wits with Irene Adler, an American opera singer at the center of a potential scandal involving the hereditary King of Bohemia.  With Adler still occupying his mind, Holmes investigates the case of Mary Morstan, who searches for her missing father, an unknown benefactor who sends her a single pearl annually, and a missing family treasure.  Holmes traces the mystery back to grudges originating in colonial India, while Watson tries to keep his growing emotions for their client in check.  Culminating with a steam launch chase, The Treasures of Agra deftly blends locked-room murders and exotic detail with romantic longing, requited and unrequited.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Hound of the Baskervilles (Igor Maslennikov, 1981)

Eclipse LogoSherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson explore the return of a monstrous ghost dog that curses the Baskerville line and threatens its only heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, freshly returned from Canada to assume his inheritance.  The pair travel to Baskerville Hall on the Devonshire moors and seek out a logical explanation for this supernatural problem, only to find a series of suspicious characters and blind alleys complicating their investigation, each delay placing Sir Henry farther into the beast’s deadly maw.  This adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most popular work is often considered the best of Igor Maslennikov’s Sherlock Holmes cycle, notable for its ominous exterior settings and its strong comedic content.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Igor Maslennikov, 1980)

Eclipse LogoBased on “The Adventure of Charles Augustus,” “The Final Problem,” and “The Adventure of the Empty House” respectively, Igor Maslennikov’s only three episode film introduces to the cycle the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’s greatest adversary.  In “The King of Blackmail,” Holmes is retained by an upper class lady to free her from the threat of scandal and the detective, assisted by Dr. Watson, puts himself on the other side of the law to retrieve a set of contentious letters.  “Mortal Fight” finds Holmes matching wits and fists with Professor Moriarty, culminating in their deadly battle at Reichenbach Falls.  In the closing episode “Tiger Hunt,” a still-mourning Watson investigates the murder of a young gambler, only to become a suspect himself, and then helps solve the case with some unexpected assistance.  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson explores the depths of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, forged and strengthened in the face of mortal danger and personal sacrifice.

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Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Igor Maslennikov, 1979)

Eclipse LogoThe first of Igor Maslennikov’s television films introduces master detective Sherlock Holmes to his friend and compatriot Doctor John Watson.  In the first episode “The Acquaintance,” Watson becomes a flatmate with Holmes, mistakes the sleuth’s odd behavior as something nefarious, and assists him in breaking a plot against Helen Stoner, a young heiress.  In “Bloody Inscription,” Holmes is invited to assist local law enforcement in solving a mysterious murder and finds himself on the trail of a devious and devoted killer.  Blending Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson offers a vision of Holmes and Watson unseen in other adaptations, celebrating the admiration, generosity, and mutual respect that make them one of the most enduring pairs in literature and cinema.

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions.  Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.

Eclipse LogoProduced by Soviet Central Television between 1979 and 1986 at Lenfilm studios, Igor Maslennikov’s adaptations of the tales of Sherlock Holmes are considered national treasures still watched regularly in Russia.  These 5 films, made up of 11 episodes, are generally hailed as the most faithful versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories and count among the best portrayals of his iconic characters.  Weaving multiple works into each film, Maslennikov emphasizes the friendship, humor, and camaraderie shared between Holmes and assistant Dr. John Watson, played respectively by Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin.  Expertly crafted, lovingly reverential, darkly suspenseful, and endearingly playful, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is anything but elementary.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

After some initial discomfort as joint tenants of 221B Baker Street, Holmes and Watson work together to save a young heiress from a murder plot and are invited to assist in tracking down a mysterious killer.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

In the only three episode film of the series, Holmes and Watson find themselves acting as criminals to defeat a blackmailer, Holmes risks mortal danger resisting the machinations of master criminal Professor James Moriarty, and Watson is identified as a suspect when a young gambler is shot dead within a locked room.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Hound of the Baskervilles

When a spectral hound returns to terrorize the Dartmoor countryside and threatens the safety of Sir Henry Baskerville, the sleuths take up the case and search for a rational explanation for the otherworldly creature.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Treasures of Agra

A young woman seeks Holmes’s assistance in finding her long missing father and embroils the detectives in a case of murder, lost treasure, and old grudges, all while stirring up memories and emotions for the fairer sex.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: The Twentieth Century Approaches

Holmes and Watson are brought out of retirement to investigate a series of minor cases that reveal a plot that threatens the tenuous peace of the entire continent.

With notes on the films by Louise McReynolds and a 1981 interview with Igor Maslennikov for Avrora magazine.

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