The year is 1902, and an ominous fog has descended on the
streets of London. When the body of a young girl is dragged
from the Thames, it is initially presumed that she is a prostitute.
However, the discovery of a silk stocking wedged in her throat
suggests otherwise, and Sherlock Holmes quickly realises that
she is in fact an aristocratic lady...
Written by Allan Cubitt, who penned the BBC's rather unnecessary
2003 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, The
Case of the Silk Stocking could scarcely be more different.
Whereas the Baskervilles novel has already been filmed
to death, Silk Stocking occupies the other end of the
spectrum, being a completely original story.
makes innovative use of the established characters. The depiction
of the detective's cocaine use is hardly revelatory, but here
the writer and the director (Simon Cellan Jones) suggest that
the drug helps Holmes (Rupert Everett) to see into the mind
of the killer, who has a very different kind of addiction.
Though the tradition of portraying Watson on screen as a bumbling
buffoon is happily far behind us, thanks mostly to the Jeremy
Brett/David Burke series, Cubitt and actor Ian Hart manage
to take the character further, by having him conduct parts
of the investigation - very successfully - on his own.
The story takes place during Edwardian times, towards the
latter end of the Conan Doyle canon, as opposed to the more
usual 19th-century setting. This allows for more modern (but
still authentic) elements to come into play. Thus we see Holmes
using a telephone and the police analysing fingerprints.
has left 221b by this point, and is shortly to be married
to Mrs Vandeleur (Helen McCrory), a liberated American divorcee
whose expertise in psychoanalysis proves an inspiration to
Holmes. Though the character may seem rather ahead of her
time, the fact that she in an American mitigates this to an
extent. And, while such unsavoury subjects as foot fetishes
and borderline paedophilia never "graced" the works of Conan
Doyle, they are covered in Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia
Sexualis, a real book that Mrs Vandeleur recommends to
performances are uniformly good, led by a suitably pallid
and languid, though slightly too young-looking, Rupert Everett.
The music, by Adrian Johnston, is excellent and the production
values high. Only a very unconvincing disguise that Holmes
dons at one point undermines the story to any serious extent.
The only extra is an audio commentary, but no more than that
is to be expected on a DVD at such a bargain price. The commentary
is provided by the director and the producer, Elinor Day.
They reveal how they achieved the effect of Holmes pulling
a long silk stocking from the throat of a murder victim. Day
has a rather annoying habit of saying how lucky she thought
she was: there are several instances of "We were lucky to
get this actor" and "We were fortunate with this location",
by luck or, more likely, judgement, this is a very enjoyable
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