It was October 24th, 1891, that Dr. John Watson heard from Sherlock Holmes for the first time in four months. At the urging of Mrs. Hudson, in the form of a telegram, the Doctor returned to his former lodgings at 221b Baker Street.
|Alison Leggatt is Mrs. Hudson.|
Delighted to see her former tenant, the landlady informs him that Holmes has taken to his rooms, refusing food and keeping the oddest of hours. A shout comes down; Holmes is ranting about Moriarty, a name Watson has only heard when his friend is in the grip of his habitual vice. Opening the door to the chain, a frantic Holmes questions the identity of his caller. Only the true Watson* would know... where does Holmes keep his tobacco?. (*And, of course, every reader of The Strand.)
On admission, Holmes brandishes his revolver, and inquires whether Watson knows of Moriarty. He does not. Undeterred, feverish, Sherlock rounds on the Doctor – insisting it adds to the genius of the thing; the man pervades London, the Western world even and no-one knows the name... he is his nemesis, his evil genius.
Holmes has a vision; a small child climbs the stair in an old house. Shaking himself free of this peculiar image, Holmes pulls open then rejects a drawer containing several ominous small bottles. Clearly concerned for Holmes' well-being and health, Watson accepts the offer of tea as Holmes attempts normality with a comment about the impending Spring. He cannot maintain the facade of convention, however, exploding with 'He's the Napoleon of crime, Watson!' smashing his pistol down into some hapless crockery.
|'He's the Napoleon of crime, Watson!. He's the organiser of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city in the annals of contemporary crime.'|
The tirade continues; Moriarty is responsible for half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city. Again, the child takes the stair, knocking Holmes back somewhat. He insists Moriarty is a genius, philosopher, abstract thinker, sat motionless at the centre of a web, which has a thousand radiations, every quiver of which are known to the master criminal. His agents? - they may be caught, but he? - never so much as suspected!. Until now. Holmes tells Watson he has learned of his arch-enemy's existence and penetrated his perimeter, but Moriarty's agents are on his track.
Quite appalled at his friend's descent into paranoia, Watson asks his intention. Sherlock replies he will nap. As he departs for his bed, the Doctor finds his cocaine needle resting on its open case. Watson returned to his consulting rooms, to find a gentleman answering to the name of Moriarty awaiting him there, perusing a lenticular print on the wall.
An elderly man, Moriarty is started by the arrival of Watson. He has called at this late hour as discretion is important and his business urgent. Understanding Doctor Watson is Sherlock Holmes' closest acquaintance, the elderly figure wishes to avoid scandal. Holmes is persecuting him; following him about London, waits for him outside the Roylott school where he teaches Mathematics. Producing a sheaf of papers, he hands them to Watson – all telegrams from Holmes on the lines of 'Moriarty, your days are numbered.' The detective seems convinced he is a criminal mastermind. Moriarty has brought this to the Doctor to avoid involving his solicitor. Watson appeals to his better nature – perhaps if he had known Holmes when he was in full possession of his faculties?. He did! - Moriarty was tutor to both Holmes and his brother Mycroft at Squire Holmes' estate in Sussex. Brilliant brothers, the Holmes brothers. Then came the tragedy...
Shocked to find Watson unaware of this, the wizened Moriarty realises he has been indiscreet and hurries to leave, not wishing to be the one to divulge such family secrets. He makes his excuses and leaves a thoughtful Watson to examine the card he left.
|Robert Duvall is Watson. Samantha Eggar is Mary Morstan Watson.|
The maid lays out supper and Mary Watson (Nee Morstan) asks her Husband his intention. Closing the door after the servant, Watson states that Holmes must be weaned of his cocaine addiction and only one man can help. Laying out a copy of The Lancet, John states that a Viennese Doctor has the capacity to assist and has agreed to so do. Mary points out that Holmes hates to leave London, knowing that his absence excites the criminal classes. Knowing Holmes' methods, John plans to leave a false trail to convince him Moriarty has fled to the Continent.
The silent marbled halls of the Diogenes Club, Pall Mall. A porter leads Doctor Watson across the expanse of opulence, shushing him when he attempts to speak. Watson did not know Holmes well, being astonished at learning of his existence some seven years after becoming acquainted with Sherlock. Mycroft preferred an eccentric bachelor's life, circumscribed by the walls of his Club, beyond which he was rarely seen. Greeting Watson warmly, the elder Holmes remarks he hasn't seen him since the affair of the Greek interpreter.
Astute as ever, Mycroft infers this visit is to do with Sherlock. Watson tells his host of the condition plaguing his sibling and the promise offered in Vienna. On mentioning Moriarty, the senior Holmes flushes uncomfortably, but stills further discussion with a gesture of finality. The Viennese doctor has made a study of addiction, in addition to his work on hysteria in children. Holmes remarks on the unusual range of interest there and that the doctor sounds Jewish, at which Watson bristles with impatience. At the rate Sherlock is using cocaine, he will be dead within the year. How to get Sherlock to the continent? - Mycroft tells Watson to leave it to him – and Professor Moriarty. Ringing for Jenkins, the porter, Mycroft astonishes him by ordering a cab for Watson... and himself!. Mycroft Holmes, leaving the club!.
The Hansom pulls up in a street some distance from the professor's house and Mycroft asks the cabbie to wait. Discretion is rewarded as Mycroft spots his brother, stood in a small graveyard keeping watch on the Moriarty household. An opportunity presents itself as Holmes relaxes his vigil and moves away. Quickly, the watching pair go to the house and wake a nervous Moriarty. Mycroft insists he does not adjust the gas, careful not to warn the vigilant Sherlock of his own presence.
Mycroft wants the professor to take a brief absence from the Roylott school, no more than three days and to journey to the address on the piece of paper Watson hands to him. The old man protests – it's in France!. Once there, he is to disappear, then return to re-assume his post. It is too much, complains Moriarty. Drily, Mycroft states he has no wish to rake up the past, but he is perfectly capable of it. With no choice, the professor asks when he is to leave. Now.
Mrs. Watson opens the doors to the dining room to find the Doctor at the breakfast table. She hands him a telegram. He reads it, his expression sombre. Mary asks if it has begun and the grave answer is 'yes.' He goes to pack, leaving her to read the message. Holmes asks if Watson's Practice can spare him for a few days, instructing him to bring Toby to 114 Munro road, Hammersmith and to take precautions. Mary wonders at this last injunction, until John draws his revolver from the dresser, stating he has always followed Holmes' instructions to the letter. He asks Mary to have another doctor cover his rounds and asks if she has any more questions. She does; who is Toby?.
Toby the Bloodhound – familiar, of course to readers of The Sign of Four – sits awaiting his work. In that adventure, Holmes stated that he would "rather have Toby's help than that of the whole detective force in London.", such is the creature's usefulness. Not only had he caught Jonathan Small and his loathsome companion, but more recently helped Holmes pursue an Orangutan through the sewers of Marseilles. Paying the cabman, Watson takes Toby through the graveyard and calls for Holmes. All of a sudden, an extraordinary sight; Holmes in the oddest of disguises, ragged clothing, wild grey hair, bulbous nose and moustaches with dark green glasses. As Watson knows all too well, Sherlock Holmes can never resist a touch of the dramatic. Moriarty, he tells us, has bolted – this his house on the corner. He has had the place under watch, but last night relaxed his vigil to go to a nearby public house. Watson says nothing of having been at the very house with Mycroft. Sherlock brings him up short lest he step in a pool of vanilla extract which he has placed there. The extract is a more reliable agent than creosote for a dog to track and Sherlock encourages Toby to sniff the aromatic liquid. Sure enough, the reliable hound starts off after the scent laid down by both Moriarty's shoe and the wheel of the carriage transporting the Professor from his home. Watson limps off to fetch their bags (The legacy of the wound he sustained in service of Queen and Country in Afghanistan.) and they begin a trek across town.
Victoria station and the odd party arrives just too late for the Continental Boat Express, a porter closing the gate as they rush up to it. Holmes sighs as the train puffs and chuffs from view. Holmes tells Watson to find out the time of the next train whilst he changes from his tramp's guise, such being unsuited for travel. They will take Toby along as his usefulness may continue. Once aboard the train, they take occupancy of their carriage, but not before Holmes takes himself and his gladstone to the WC. Watson sees no use in remonstration; ironically, until they reach Austria he depends on Holmes' usage of cocaine. Patting Toby, he settles in for a long journey.
|Robert Duvall and Nicol Williamson as Watson and Holmes.|
At every stop, Holmes has Toby cast about for the vanilla scent. At Linz station, an incident occurs that, although apparently of no import, assumed significance later. Be-Fezzed flunkies unroll a red carpet to a carriage from which steps an extraordinary figure. Bearded, a Pasha stands, surveying the scene, in a heavy coat of fur, a cigarette in holder between his teeth, a crescent of silver adorning his fez and jewelled medals hanging from his breast and throat.
|Gertan Klauber appears as the Emin Pasha|
To Holmes, lounging there, he seems of no interest, until he stops to stare at a poster hung there. It is of a beautiful singer, Lola Devereaux, appearing at the Linz Hof. The Pasha seems enamoured, to say the least. Piqued, Holmes makes to go after the exotic potentate, only to have his way barred with ottoman daggers and shouts of warning. As a stream of covered beauties – one presumes the latter – descend from the carriage to follow their master, Holmes inquires of a porter to whom does the private carriage and carpet belong, to be told 'The Emin Pasha', the Premier of the entire Ottoman Empire. He is the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. (He's not; Joseph Jagger and Charles Wells were the two men entitled to this soubriquet. However, for interrupting our narrative, I shall make an offering to petition your further patronage; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx1SWS1MFbU )
Both train and occupants puff away heartily – as Holmes chided Watson for lighting up earlier, this seems a tad inconsistent, the two friends speculating on Toby's unmatched olfactory skills. They arrive in Vienna, at the Westbahnhof. Bemused porters laden with their baggage following, Toby tries the wheels of a few carriages. Holmes remarks that cabs working stations return to them between fares. Perhaps... no, it's hopeless. Toby seems to have lost the scent. And yet!; canine nose sniffling, the superlative Hound lets out a whimper, a bark!. He's onto something, dragging Holmes along to a carriage into which he springs, whining in excitement. Questioning the Droschenkkutscher as to his recent fare, Holmes establishes that Moriarty did, indeed travel in the man's carriage and makes the universal signal for renumeration to assist his memory as to where. Suitably greased, the wheels turn and the singular party is taken through one of the beautiful cities of old Europe, the Europe before the motor car left it's tarmacadam slashes across the continent.
They enter the Alsergrund district, at the Berg alleyway. Holmes wonders why Moriarty should suddenly choose to visit Austria. Warily, Watson lies that he has no idea, his sudden pallor worrying Holmes. They pull up at number 19, Berggasse. Taking the marble stairs of the grand old house, the adventurers ascend to an apartment, Toby in the lead. Conscience-pricked, Watson tries to tell Holmes of the true purpose of their visit, but an eager Sherlock will have none of it in the thrill of the moment. Number Six then, and the bell is answered by a cheery Dienstmädchen with a hearty 'Grüß Gott, ja?'. Rudely barging past the girl, Holmes confuses her asking for Moriarty. When Watson introduces Holmes it is clear he was expected. Politeness itself, the maid offers to give Toby something to eat, arousing suspicion in Holmes which only subsides at Watson's melioration.
|Alan Arkin is Freud.|
A door opens and a medium-sized, compact man of fastidious appearance emerges to welcome the two to his house, his tones that of a cultured Vienna professional, perhaps the medical class. An animated Holmes insists the man remove his ludicrous beard and drop the comic-opera accent, believing this to be Professor Moriarty. Solemnly, the man gives his name as Sigmund Freud. The scales drop and Holmes realises this is indeed not Moriarty goes through into the study, suddenly uncertain of things. Freud explains he believes Moriarty is, in fact in a Hotel. Turning on Watson, Holmes vents his outrage at such deception, from the last man he thought capable of betraying him to his enemies. Holmes has done his friend an injustice, Freud explains, adding that Watson and Mycroft colluded to lead him to his door in the hope that they could induce Holmes to see him. For what purpose?. Freud answers question with like; who is he that Holmes' friends would wish him to see?. The Great Detective proves his powers not entirely dissipated. Beyond the fact Freud is a brilliant jewish physician, born in Hungary and had studied in Paris and that certain radical theories of his had alienated the respectable medical community, so that he has severed connexions with various hospitals and branches of the medical fraternity... Beyond this Holmes can deduce little, save he is married with a child of perhaps five, enjoys Shakespeare and is a man of honour.
Nervous and vexed, Holmes wants his explanation. Sigmund Freud first wants to know how he guessed these details of his life. 'I never guess. It is an appalling habit, destructive to the logical faculty.' He expounds his observations; that the study belongs to Freud exclusively is evident from the dust – not even the maid is permitted. Holmes roams the room as he elucidates. When a man collects books he usually groups them, yet his religious tomes are in a bookcase across from a Hebrew Bible and Talmud, a menorah upon his desk confirms this. That he studied in Paris is to be inferred from the number of medical texts in French. Where else for a German to study French textbooks? Who, but a brilliant physician studies in a language that is not their own?. The fondness for Shakespeare is inferred from the open book laid face down as if intended to be resumed, the absence of dust on cover adding to the hypothesis. That he is a physician is clear from the fact he maintains a consulting room adjacent to the study, the blank spaces on the wall surrounding his Diplomata testify to his alienation from various medical societies. Pulling and twisting at his hands in a compulsive fashion, the heightened Holmes clarifies this; what could impel a man to remove testaments to his own success?. It is possible to become disillusioned with one or two, hardly likely to be so with all. Rather, he postulates it was they who became disenchanted with Doctor Freud and asked him to resign. Evidently some position which he has taken has discredited him, in their eyes.
Wringing his hands in suppressed frenzy, Sherlock continues. The wedding ring tells of marriage, his Balkanised accent hints Hungary or Moravia, the toy soldier he plucks from the floor ought to belong to a small boy of perhaps five... again the vision of the boy climbing the stairs assails Holmes, who loses track and asks if he has omitted anything.
'My sense of honour' is Freud's response. Holmes states it implied by his removal of the plaques of the societies to which he no longer belongs. In his own study, whom, but he would know of it?. Now, Holmes awaits his host's explanation. Freud observes Holmes is less than candid, that it is clear he suffers from an abominable addiction and that his maligned friend and brother who have combined to help him throw off its yoke.
Shrewdly, Freud insists Holmes face his hypocrisy in refusing to acknowledge his illness and blaming his friends. Heavy of heart, Holmes admits his guilt. He has summoned all his will to the task, but no no use. His feet are on the inexorable path to self-destruction. Doctor Freud suggests a man may sometimes retrace his steps, but a defeated Holmes replies 'Not from the fiendish coils of drug-addiction, no man can do it.' 'I have' is the Austrian's simple answer. He has taken cocaine and is free from it's power. It is now his intention to help others – if Holmes will allow it. It will take time and it will not be pleasant. The Doctor has arranged for both to remain as his guests for the duration.
At this point, Holmes is in the grip of another attack, compelled by the needle. Removing his jacket, Freud begins his work, with a session of hypnotism. Does he intend to make Holmes bark like a dog?, no he intends to reduce the craving artificially, until the chemistry of the body does it naturally. Swinging his pocket-watch to and fro, the Doctor begins inducing a state of hypnosis.
Lowering the blinds, Freud joins Watson to search Holmes' possessions whilst the latter slumbers in his hypnotised state. Doctor Freud goes through Holmes' case, whilst Doctor Watson takes the gladstone. Freud finds what might be a small bottle of the drug in solution, but it's water – a decoy inspired by the artifice of the addicted. Emptied, however, the gladstone is too heavy. Upending it, Watson discovers a false panel, which pops open to reveal the tragic sight of the best part of thirty bottles of the hellish solution, along with the implements of self-destruction in their cases.
When and where and why did Holmes begin using cocaine?. In the salon, this is the question Freud asks of Watson, who answers for as long as he's known him. He takes a seven-percent solution to relieve the ennui between cases. The maid leaves tea for the two and leaves the two men smoking. Freud's interest?; a friend of his died last year, he was partially responsible. He closes the (exquisite) sliding glass doors for more privacy. After this, he wrote a paper on the subject, which Watson came across in The Lancet. Trained in Neuro-Pathology, with a background in local diagnosis, there is no formal designation for what Freud is now. He began with mapping the nervous system, but became interested in charting the mind. He is interested in the area of the brain he calls the Un-Conscious. He's an Alienist, suggests Watson; Freud is interested in hysterical cases, using hypnosis to dig into their Un-Conscious mind where, he believes, the hysterical symptoms originate. For example; Herr Holmes reliance on cocaine strikes him as being a symptom, not hysterical, but nevertheless a symptom.
What makes him think this?, is Watson's question. 'Elementary my dear... fellow.' (Clearly, Freud is a fan of Watson's published accounts, as this slip reveals.) Knowing something of drugs and addiction, he refuses to believe a man would descend into such over mere boredom. Suddenly, the feverish cries of 'A snake... a snake!' sound from Holmes' room and the two medical men rush to his aid. Concerned Mrs. Freud and their son come out, startled by the hullabaloo. A curtailed, hurried introduction is all they have time for as the anguished shrieking continues. Beside himself in terror, a rabid Holmes insists a swamp adder is in the room – the deadliest snake in India. (This is the snake from The Adventure of the Speckled Band, a fictitious creature possibly intended to be an Indian Cobra.) The room is in disarray. Watson is forced to physically subdue his friend until the attack subsides, leaving Holmes drenched in sweat, gasping for air and trembling noticably.
As Holmes' fever abates, he tells Freud of the snake he saw – the case of a diabolical plot to murder a young lady. Recounting the case, he tells of the snake coming down a bell rope affixed to the side of the lady's bed. In his dream, however, the viper turned into Professor Moriarty. Does the Doctor place much stock in dreams?. He does not know what dreams tell, lately has been toying with the idea that...but Holmes is seized anew, leaping from the bed and babbling. Rushing from the room, the anguished genius is stopped by Watson, angered that the latter does not see the snake and calling him an insufferable cripple. At this last, Watson delivers a finely judged blow, part upper-cut, part right-cross that knocks the senses from Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes' attempt to escape the coils of the cocaine, in which he was so deeply enmeshed, was perhaps the most harrowing and heroic effort I have ever witnessed – John Watson, MD.
From his bed, Holmes is be-seiged by the ghosts of the past; the carrot-topped men of The Red-Headed League bow in unison, while Doctors Watson and Freud seem to be gliding around the room. A wardrobe begins to undulate and quiver, as if made of jelly, the door bursting open to expel the ferocious Hound that so nearly ended the life of Sir. Henry Baskerville some years past. These phantasms disappear as they came, the room returned to normality. Holmes is in a parlous state of near exhaustion. Ever the staunch ally, Watson tends to his charge, applying a cold compress to the brow to assist with the fever. Holmes' mind wrestles with colliding imagery; the boy on the stairs, Freud's eternally-swinging watch, again he falls into the somnolence of the hypnotised. As through a tunnel, Holmes perceives the two medical men conferring as to the dangers of his withdrawal process. Doctor Freud cautions Watson that Holmes could die.
That bloody child!; again he treads that stair!. Then, a new terror; the bed in which Holmes reposes seems to rise, floating upwards towards the ceiling!. Surely he will be crushed... then, a kindly face – it is Mrs. Freud, with a thin soup for the patient. As he takes up his spoon, Holmes sees a bowl of worms, which he flings away in disgust. Throwing back the bedclothes only reveals a next of vipers, writhing and hissing. From reality, Mrs. Freud beseeches him to return to bed, but Holmes cowers in a corner. The room spins like a speeding carriage wheel as the Doctor's wife helps Holmes back to bed. Even then, the horrors do not rescind their grip upon Holmes' mind, as he sees insects crawling over Mrs. Freud's face. Once more, the pendulum swings. It seems then that Toby enters the room to sniff at Holmes, as if to revive him. Perhaps the Hound did, indeed visit Holmes, perhaps. A bell-pull then appears at the head board by the be-devilled patient – not surprisingly, his mind has conjured the dreaded swamp adder as the next torment. But what's this?; fleeting glimpses of a face – Moriarty?, yes! Moriarty. Younger perhaps, but definitely it is he, interspersed with the snake. This last is too much and Holmes sinks back into his pillow, collapsing into sleep.
The curtains are thrown open and the maid offers Holmes a cheery 'Good morning.' Awakening, Holmes looks around to see a seated Watson, positively beEming, Mrs. Freud and the Doctor himself announcing his fever is broken and his pulse is normal. How does Holmes feel? - not well. Smiling, Doctor Freud disagrees, stating he will try to force some food into him today. Does he remember Professor Moriarty?. Indeed yes, Holmes knowing what is expected of him. The only time he fitted the appellation of 'Nemesis' was when it took him three weeks to unshroud the mysteries of elementary calculus. Freud is intent; Holmes must know this to be true, not merely state it. He does. Calling Watson closer, Sherlock tells him he cannot remember too much of the preceding hours, or days, but he seems to recall shouting terrible things at his closest friend. Did he?. Noble Watson!; he tells Holmes it was imagined. Sherlock responds that if he did shout these things he wants Watson to know that he did not mean it. Tired by even such a mean exchange, Sherlock Holmes closes his eyes and his staunch compatriot draws the bedding under his chin. The two medical men retire, leaving him to rest.
Alone, Watson asks if Holmes will be all right. 'Perhaps. He will need hypnosis periodically still.' Have they not been successful?. 'Perhaps.' Doctor Freud recalls the old maxim of the cure being worse than the disease. Abruptly dismissing this thought, the Austrian Doctor tells Doctor Watson they owe themselves an hour or two of fresh air...
The two Doctors go to a Turnhalle, or gymnasium. Discussing Holmes' case, Doctor Freud speculates that to complete a successful cure, it is necessary to trace the origin of his compulsion; the reason for his use of cocaine. Until this is accomplished, he will remain susceptible. Watson wonders how Doctor Freud intends to achieve this, unaware as yet of the interest their visit has aroused. A man with a mensur schmisse and every appearance of being a Prussian aristocrat - and his lickspittles are regarding the Austrian Doctor with disdain. Freud explains he will use the same methods as Holmes would in solving a mystery – but then the Prussian steps forward and his interest becomes both clear and repugnant in its very essence. In loud tones, the 'aristocrat' reveals himself to be an anti-semite, stating that the place has gone downhill since his last visit. Calmly, Doctor Freud seats himself on the bench as he changes stating it apparent the man has not been here for some time, the Jewish membership up some fifty percent. When one of the thugs recognises Freud, he whispers so to the Prussian, who refers coarsely to the Doctor's Oedipal theorem. The bounder then asks if Freud slept with his mother – and ends up wearing a glass of beer, provided by an outraged Watson.
|Jeremy Kemp provides plenty of Boo-Hiss as Baron Karl Von Leinsdorf.|
The Prussian holds back his lackeys, as Watson squares off into a pugilist's stance. That is not the Prussian way, however. The cad informs Watson his Seconds will call on him. Seeing the danger, Freud insists Watson merely brought the challenge and the argument is with him. Blood up, a furious Watson wants to challenge the dastard himself, but Doctor Freud insists he will fight his own battles. Accepting, the Prussian asks if he knows who he is. He does not know who, but indeed Freud knows what the man is. He is the Baron Von Liensdorf. As the injured party, Doctor Freud has the choice of weapons and the time is now.
Dressed for battle, Sigmund Freud has armed himself with... a tennis racquet. Cleverly, he has chosen a game of tennis; if he loses, it's only a game. Refusing a wager, Freud faces his opponent across the net as the Baron spins for sides. The umpire calls one set, the best of five games to polite applause from the spectators. First service and the Baron sends the ball over the Penthouse roof, a shot returned by Doctor Freud. However, the Doctor faults on the next return. It soon emerges that the Baron is a strong, confident player and, despite his gallant efforts, Freud is left trailing. However, as the game progresses, the Doctor's own improves, winning back a game. During a pause, Watson offers encouragement and the astute Freud comments on the terrible deficiency in the Baron's game; he has an appalling back-hand.
Now serving, Freud exploits the weakness to the increased frustration of his opponent. Watson watches with satisfaction a triumph of intellect over brute strength. Ultimately, the Umpire calls it game, set and match to Doctor Freud. Watson takes his hand, but when Freud asks the Baron if honour is satisfied, he churlishly flings his racket away in a display of unsportsmanlike behaviour. Shaking his head, the victor leaves the court.
Dinner at the Freud household and Holmes' own plate lies untouched. Concerned, Mrs. Freud offers dessert, some strudel, but a far-off Holmes declines. As the maid clears the table, Doctor Freud brings in a violin for Holmes to play. It's not a Stradivarius, but it belonged to an Uncle and Freud offers its use whilst his guest remains. Inspecting the violin, Sherlock Holmes thanks his host. The maid brings him a plate of strudel, asking him to eat it. It is clear Holmes is far from recuperated. That night, the old violin sings as it is played by a masterly hand, whilst outside in the Alsergrund a dog barks in the darkness.
Morning and a cycle messenger hurries up to the Freud residence. Guests and Hosts are at breakfast, Holmes sat in a listless topor, a vacant stare of lassitude alarming Doctor Watson, who insists he take some nourishment. Doctor Freud has been summoned to an emergency, an attempted suicide. Asking his wife for his coat, he stands regarding Holmes, who assures him he is all right. Doubtful of this, Freud observes that the craving could re-assert itself at any moment. Better that Holmes and Watson accompany him.
The courtyard of the Allgemeines Krankenhaus and a carriage door is opened revealing the coat of arms of the Baron Von Liensdorf, he tells the driver to wait, then changes his mind and orders the driver to leave as he spots the party approaching. With Doctor freud leading, the trio enter the hospital, taking the steps they are unaware of the sinister Turk watching the building. He wears a fez and is smoking a cigarette. As the visitors walk the corridor, a Doctor Schultz discusses the case with Freud. The woman is lucky to be alive, having leapt from the Augarten bridge into the canal. Her sedation should be wearing off about now.
Entering the room, a beautiful woman lies sleeping fitfully, her striking red locks cascade over the pillow.
|Miss Lola Deveraux is portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave.|
The Sister of Mercy takes Doctor Freud's coat as he exEmines the patient. This is Lola Deveraux, whose head of red hair was, until recently the toast of four continents. Holmes startles his companions by observing the Lady was possessed of a remarkable Mezzo Soprano, with a fondness for lilies. They were her passion, agrees Freud; she surrounded herself with them. She was, until recently a patient of his; does he see where the ravages of cocaine lead?. He thought he had cured her. Holmes lifts the sheet exposing the lady's feet; her ankles display numerous small lacerations and clear marks of bruising, as of having been bound. He states simply, 'You did.' Freud disagrees, she has had a terrible relapse and attempted self-destruction. Holmes lets this statement fall as he remarks he has never seen anything so fiendish; she did not relapse voluntarily - the marks at her wrists and ankles indicate she was bound and forcibly fed her drugs.
Doctor Freud cannot believe his ears as Holmes explains the method of escape. Miss Deveraux smashed a window with her feet, then used a shard to cut her bonds and escape from a second-storey window. Watson asks how he deduces this last, Holmes shows her palms, which are badly burned from a slide down something such as a drainpipe. Why should she then attempt suicide? - 'Elementary, my Dear Freud. Once free, her addiction began to re-assert itself. To satisfy it meant returning to captivity. There's only one other method of dealing with her dependence on the drug.' Watson counsels Freud against taking Holmes too seriously, but Freud doubts the evidence will sustain another interpretation. Besides, Holmes is not that sick. Miss Deveraux regains consciousness with a start of fear, Doctor Freud rushing to her side. Recognition in her sparks and she clings to her former saviour. Upon seeing the wretched needle marks upon her arm, she is in despair.
Holmes addresses the woman, who turns to face the owner of the strange voice, Freud introducing him. She has indeed heard the name, gallantly offering a British 'How do you do?'. Touched, Holmes asks what she can recall of her abduction. She was on the station en route for Monte Carlo when a message arrived for her. Perhaps sensing reticence, Holmes reassures her by confessing he, too is an addict. The message came from her friend, the Baron Von Liensdorf. He was planning to join her on the Riviera, but the message was not from the Baron, merely being a ruse to get her from the station. She was bundled into a landau, the blinds closed. Gagged, tied and blindfolded, she does not know where she was taken or why. Asking a description of the messenger, she details a little, dark-haired man wearing a bowler. His skin was very burnt and pockmarked, his teeth bad too. He walked with little nervous jumps and dressed like a tradesman. Clearly suffering a terrible ordeal, Mme. Deveraux turns to her protector and Doctor Freud asks for a few minutes alone with his patient. Holmes praises her on her strength and leaves with Watson. Alone, the singer tells Doctor Freud they will have to start again. Is she not afraid?. A woman as beautiful as she has seen everything fearful by seventeen. Afraid, no, just tired...
At one of the cafés for which Vienna is so justifiably famed, the gentlemen sit and discuss matters. Doctor Freud invites Holmes to assist, but the detective demurs. Watson agrees with his medical colleague that work is the very thing. Sweating, Holmes puts it that his own condition may affect Miss Deveraux's, that he is under constant need for supervision. Better to turn the affair over to the Viennese police. A man who believed his own mathematics tutor to be the serpent from Eden... Freud leaps upon this, but Holmes is again subject to visions of the boy on the stair. Trying not to let his frustration show, Doctor Freud states the Vienna police no better than Scotland Yard – what would he do if he had taken the case?. In the grip of a panic attack, Holmes begs to be taken home to be hypnotised. Watson makes to rise, but Freud's hand on his shoulder stills the movement. The Doctor offers hypnosis here and now if Holmes answers his question.
|Joel Grey plays Lowenstein. Oily, slimy and wretched.|
Left without choice, Holmes accedes; his first move would be to follow that man there – he indicates a sallow type seated at a nearby booth conspicuously and ostentatiously reading his Neue Freie Presse. But why?, he seems to be waiting for someone. Sherlock Holmes tells his companions the man is waiting for them, having followed them from the hospital. Freud asks why the man should be concerned with them.
Holmes – (Clutching handkerchief) 'Doctor Freud, you see, but you do not observe – a faculty you must cultivate. Describe that man to me.'
Watson – 'You can see him yourself.'
Holmes – 'Yes. Describe him.'
Dr. Freud – 'He's wearing a bowler, (The Man is dressing hurriedly as if to leave) dressed as a tradesman, long ragged coat, black shoes, scarred face...'
Freud turns to face Holmes, the light of recognition in his eyes.
Dr. Freud – 'Himmel!, it's the man who abducted Fraulein Deveraux'.
Holmes – (Nodding) 'Now, will you keep your promise?'.
Dr. Freud – 'Ja.'
Freud reaches for his watch, but the man is leaving – there's no time to treat Holmes now. Hurrying after the fellow – who indeed walks with nervous jumps – just time for Freud to pay and grab a last bite of pastry. They follow the man to a chemist's shop, Holmes explaining drugs were used by Miss Deveraux's abductor, to re-establish her dependence. When, by some miracle, the addict is cured, the addiction is relegated to the position of a secret in their past. Whoever did this was intimately acquainted with the soprano. Stumbling, Holmes falls to the paving stones, Freud offering to take him home. Resolute, Holmes rejects the offer and the three rush off in pursuit to the Hof-Bibliotek, (Now the Austrian State Library and surely the finest library in Europe.) where, from one of the galleries, he looks down on his followers. As they stand, awaiting his next movement, he comes down, blows his nose rather loudly and touches his hat to them as he passes, evidently seeing this as some sort of game!.
The singular pursuit continues through Vienna, the pock-marked little man hippety-hopping along and poor Watson limping along in the wake of Holmes and Freud. Holmes thinks this odd fellow merely a supernumerary, hired by one of the principals. Discussion turns to the Baron and his lack of backhand. Pock-marked Hippety-hop darts into a building, but on following the three find themselves in a dark chamber the size of two tennis courts. The gate behind them is closed suddenly by their quarry and, of all times, Sherlock has an attack. Kneeling in the sawdust, Doctor Freud tries to hypnotise him, placing him under.
The gates swing open and with a whinny, six horses from the Lipizzaner stables roar into what is suddenly revealed as a practice arena. Dragging the comatose Holmes to the precarious safety afforded by some barrels, Watson shouts that they are only horses – the most intelligent in the World, is Freud's retort – and trained to kill. Needing more time to bring Holmes back, he commands Watson to divert the horses away.
Bravely, Watson goes into the fray, going as fast as he can, hindered by his old wound and desperately using his stick to propel himself, the charging horses gaining with every step. Desperately, he hurls himself clear at the last possible moment, the flailing hooves missing him by a fraction. Regaining stick and hat, Watson turns to face the stampede as it turns for the next pass. In an act that would, on the battlefield merit a gallantry medal, he calls the horses attention solely to him, taking cover behind some barrels just as several tons of horse-flesh carom off them. Frantically, meanwhile, Freud is trying everything to awaken Holmes without his craving for cocaine. Coming to, Holmes asks what has happened, to be told the predicament they are in. Instantly, Holmes removes his deerstalker (An odd choice for the city) and dashes to the centre of the arena with the Viennese doctor. As the Lipizzaner hurtle past Watson, their attention falls on the two men in front of the gates. With death closing rapidly, Holmes and Freud run back towards the gates, throwing themselves to either side at the critical moment. The horses crash through and Holmes goes to see how Watson fared. They must get to the hospital – why? - Freud sees that the pock-marked hopping man was merely used to lead them astray. The purpose?...
Miss Deveraux sits combing her legendary locks. The Baron calls on her with a large bouquet of lillies. She is delighted to see her old beau, they embrace warmly. He tells her Doctor Freud told him of her convalescence and the two kiss. He has come to take her away. But Doctor Freud?. The cad claims that he made the Doctor change his mind. Fetching her robe, the Baron tells her after her imprisonment in that warehouse, the last thing she needs is a cold, impersonal hospital. Her face drops as she realises the terrible truth. How could he know about the warehouse?. The ignoble nobleman is interrupted by the arrival of a Sister. He tells the nurse that she must accompany the patient and, unaware of the danger, she agrees.
The Baron's carriage leaves, watched by the ever-vigilant Turk, his eternal cigarette in his lips. He hurries into a carriage bearing the coat of arms of the Emin Pasha to follow the Baron. The next second, Holmes and co. come sprinting into the courtyard, to the singer's room. Finding it vacant confirms Holmes' worst fears. Anger then, as Holmes berates Freud for forcing him to take this case. He's bungled it!. Why, why did he listen to Freud?. Freud, of course has his own perspective; why does Holmes insist on taking all the blame?, what egocentric streak prevents others from sharing in his triumphs or disasters?. Furious, Sherlock shouts 'I followed the wrong man!'. Watson the peacemaker now; beseeching both gentlemen to hold themselves, he points out this is hardly the time to apportion blame. A woman is in danger. 'Women are always in danger' the reply. Freud accedes. Where can they have taken her?. Not her original prison; they have no idea what she may have ascertained of it's location or revealed. The detective goes on – we know its location and that prevents their return. Watson questions this, to Holmes' annoyance. She leapt from the Augarten bridge after a harrowing escape down a drainpipe. As an addict, how much strength could she have had?. From how far off could she have come?. Then, the germ of an idea. Holmes asks Doctor Freud what buildings front the Danube canal by the bridge?. Despondently, Freud answers; 'Warehouses.'
The time for ratiocination has past, Holmes requires Toby, asking Freud to go to fetch him. The Doctor thinks it better Holmes accompanies him, but Sherlock sallies that Doctor Watson will prevent his stealing Hospital supplies of cocaine; besides, (He draws his magnifying glass) he is on the case and Freud has placed him there. Now he is under Holmes' instructions... as afterthought, Holmes asks for Watson's revolver as well. As the Doctor departs, a thought has come to him. Meanwhile, Holmes observes no sign of a struggle, but spots a single lilly on the floor of the corridor outside the door. Along the hallway, another!. Miss Deveraux has left a trail!. Running out to the courtyard, more lilies await discovery. The trail stops at a door from which two drunken gentlemen have just spilled out from. Holmes bangs on the door, which is answered by a be-turbanned boy. Inside, a sumptuous bordello is revealed, patrons and courtesans alike delight in a chanteuse's risqué song. Finding themselves among the demi-monde, Holmes and Watson stand, awkwardly (In Watson's case rather less so) as the madame finishes her song.
Posing as customers, Holmes and Watson order something with red hair... her own russet tresses will not do. She goes off in search of another redhead, while a girl offers the pair a view at a stereoscope; Holmes is disgusted and says as much. Watson, however, shows no such reticence, more than willing to peruse the three-dimensional image. Doubtless not family viewing. The madame brings a redhead in, but it is not Miss Deveraux. Moving about Holmes casts his eye around, then hurries through into a salon priveé, finding a man cavorting with two 'ladies'. Covering Watson's eyes, Holmes goes across to another salon to find... Doctor Sigmund Freud, sat on the bed, smoking a cigar. At this, madame calls off her man, remarking that for this sort of entertainment they need not come to her establishment.
How did Doctor Freud arrive at this place?. He tried to think where they would hide Fräulein Deveraux next. Knowing something of her less than salubrious past, he thought where better to hide a demi-mondaine than amongst a bevy of the type. Impressed, Holmes remarks the Doctor is beginning to think as he does. Holmes is embarrassed when Watson reveals their method and places the lillies aside. They have not found Fräulein Deveraux, however they have found the body of the unfortunate sister, revealed by Freud pulling the bed-covers back. Her throat has been slashed. His face darkening, Holmes instructs the Doctor to rise carefully and step to one side, Watson to lock the door so he can better exEmine the scene of this latest crime. Doctor Freud speculates she was probably abducted to prevent her describing the abductors. Holmes offers praise for the Doctor's insight, but adds that there was only the one abductor, as there was no sign of a struggle and both women clearly went willingly. Freud asks why, to receive that immortal line; 'Eliminate the impossible, my Dear Doctor and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.' Pondering this, Freud uncertainly comes up with a name; The Baron?. Congratulating him on his insight, Holmes clarifies it – the Baron being the only person intimately acquainted with her past.
Examining the dresser, Holmes finds a bottle of cocaine solution. The Baron planned to use this to keep his victim tractable. Freud wonders why he would have to abduct his own mistress. The exEmination continues, with the Great Detective scrutinising the corpse. Throat slit, left to right. A ritual slaying, common in Moslem* practice. The Sharp curved blade, body still warm, rigor not set in. Watson does not think this a matter of religious difference. Spotting a partially smoked cigarette on the carpet, Holmes shows it to his glass. La Turkia, a brand only smoked by Turks. Further inspection of the floor reveals a tiny strand of red carpet, also Turkish. (*Of course, the proper spelling would be 'Muslim', but in the Nineteenth Century 'Moslem' was used. The spelling changed largely due to the wider knowledge that 'Moslem' is, in fact a deadly insult to adherents of Islam.)
Holmes has a theory, only such, but it fits the facts. It is his theory that the Emin Pasha was an ardent admirer of Miss Deveraux. As he recalls, red hair exercises a peculiar fascination for the potentate. No doubt he met her at Monte Carlo in the company of the Baron and... his train of thought is derailed as he becomes distracted by the bottle of cocaine he is still holding. Watson removes the offending article, reminding Holmes the lady is still in danger – he mustn't succumb. Reassuring his old friend, he declares that he won't. Ever. Freud gives a nod of satisfaction at this. An insistent rapping at the door, which is opened to admit our old friend Mister Pock-Marked Hippety-Hop, into the strong arms of Watson. Holmes covers the wretched little man with Watson's revolver, ordering him to empty his pockets of cocaine. Watson propels him across the room onto the bed. On seeing the murdered Sister, he lets out a shriek.
As the loathsome fellow hands over his illicit cargo, Holmes tells him he will make a series of statements and to agree or disagree, dependant on accuracy. Is that understood?. Getting no reply from the terrified villain, Holmes advances on him, at which Freud suddenly springs to his feet and startles everyone as he announces 'I see everything.' He continues to say the whole thing turns on two psycho-logical points; The baron's compulsion for gambling and the Pasha's fascination for red-headed women. Bravo!, Holmes professes that his powers of observation and inference would make him a great detective, but Freud turns to the rapscallion and puts these points to him;
Dr. Freud – Ze Baron is a compulsive gambler.
Lowenstein – (Terrified) Yes.
Dr. Freud – He lost a fortune this season at Monte Carlo.
Lowenstein – (Nods)
Dr. Freud – The Emin Pasha bought up all his outstanding notes in order to control him completely.
Lowenstein – (Nods)
Holmes – Really Doctor, you positively scintillate, what next?.
Dr. Freud – He offered to tear up the notes in exchange for Fräulein Deveraux...
Holmes – Whom he wished to add to his seraglio.
Lowenstein (Not understanding) Se...?.
Holmes – (Tuts) His harem.
Lowenstein – Hmm yes.
Dr. Freud – Ze Baron agreed and hired you to abduct his mistress.
Lowenstein – Yes.
Dr. Freud – Knowing of her former narcotic addiction, you were instructed to revive it, in order to render her pliant and dependent.
Lowenstein (Sobbing) Yes.
Dr. Freud is at a loss to explain the next steps, so Holmes suggests they combine methods. Seating themselves comfortably, the trio ignore the snuffling creature in the corner as Holmes expounds his theory further. The Baron's plan is clear. In another day or so he could have turned a docile woman over to his creditor, but she foiled his plans with her escape. It was then a race to recover her; without her, the Baron was lost. He discovered she was at the hospital somehow and was on the point of spiriting her away – it was his black carriage they passed entering, but something stopped him. Holmes speculates that the Baron recognised Freud from their tennis match. It was essential to get Holmes and cohorts out of the way, which this gentleman (Lowenstein) accomplished... but the wily crook has slipped out of the room.
Watson grabs the repulsive little man and veritably hurls him back into the room. Continuing, Sherlock states that this time the Baron kidnapped Miss Deveraux in person. Something aroused her suspicion, however and she left the trail of lillies. The Baron left her at this very house of assignation whilst he went to fetch the Pasha. A slap from Watson's walking stick elicits a 'Ja' from the cowering wretch. This, however, was where the Pasha's men came in, having dogged the Baron's footsteps from the beginning. It was they who took Miss Deveraux. As Holmes remarks that the ladies do seem to cause trouble, the vision, this time the boy nears the door at the top of the stairs. Watson has heard enough; tiring of inactivity, he hauls the pock-marked blackguard to his feet and demands to know the Pasha's whereabouts. The foul creature says the Pasha is going to Istanbul for a government conference. Galvanised, Holmes and friends rush from the room.
At the train yard, the Station Master explains the Emin Pasha commissioned a special train, using his own cars. He put together the Pasha's train himself, which left three hours ago for Istanbul. Holmes declares they also will commission a special, pointing at a locomotive which is pulling in. The detective tells Doctor Freud there is no need to accompany himself and Watson, if he'd sooner depart. Gamely, the Doctor replies Miss Deveraux is his patient, earning a clap on the back from Watson and a handshake from Holmes. They go to board the locomotive, to the protests of the Station Master; it takes time to commission a special – and money. They must telegraph ahead to clear points. Watson asks where the train was originally heading. The reply; it is the Dresden Local. Drawing his revolver, Watson corrects him; it is now the Orient Express. With a 'Huh', the Station Master climbs aboard. Holmes rushes to change the points and the 'Orient Express Special' is under way. Holmes and Freud take turns shovelling coal, whilst Watson keeps their captive Station Master and the Engineer covered.
The 'Orient Express' thunders through the darkness, with an impressive head of steam. With only the tender and a single carriage to pull, it glides along the tracks. Exhausted, Freud is relieved by Watson, who hands him the revolver, much to his discomfort. They need more steam, Holmes tries to enlist the Station Master, who refuses – they are stealing railway property. Freud seizes the man and explains the Pasha is stealing a woman and transporting her out of the country. Are they the police?. As so often, the name of Sherlock Holmes is enough to sway opinion. Taking up shovel, the Station Master works feverishly to produce the required pressure and the locomotive gains vital speed. Wheels sparking, the train thunders off into the night.
The first light of dawn sees the commandeered 'Special' still gamely pursuing the Emin Pasha's train. However, the supply of coal has expired. With a gesture of disgust, Watson tosses the last piece into the fire box. Grimacing in despair, Holmes admits defeat; Miss Deveraux is forfeit. But then!. His eyes fall on the single carriage, an axe conveniently affixed to its front. Clambering over the tender, Holmes takes up the axe and, entering the carriage, sets to work procuring fuel for the fire, much to the dismay of the Station Master and the Engineer. Enthusiastically, the Doctors take up tools and begin helping to destroy the carriage. Realising there is no saving it, the Station Master sends the Engineer back to his controls and goes to help. An over-enthusiastic Watson knocks several planks clear onto the track, to be chastised by Doctor Freud. The train begins to regain rapidity and momentum, Doctor Watson now on the roof knocking it through, Doctor Freud beneath and Holmes passing the precious wood to the Station Master.
The Station Master points out a train running on a converging set of tracks. 'Berger! Berger! You're a Wizard!.*' Exclaims Holmes, jubilant. They are right behind them, with no more points to switch. Calling for all the steam available, Holmes observes they must catch them before they cross the Danube. Inexorably, the two trains are drawn together by the convention of the rails, the Pasha's train ahead by perhaps a carriage-length. Both trains blow their whistles, which alerts the Baron Von Liensdorf, who steps out onto the back porch to investigate, locking with Holmes for a moment before he darts back into the carriage. A trains length ahead, the Pasha's train races ahead, Holmes' train closing. As both trains flash past a signal box, the signal-man hurriedly changes the points and
winds the telephone to call ahead. Crossing a viaduct into the border with Hungary, the barriers drop behind the Potentate's train, to the alarm of the Station-Master. Resolute, Holmes orders the Engineer to ram them. Whistle shrieking in warning, the 'Orient Express Special' smashes the barrier into matchwood, the border guards shrinking back from the juggernaut. Watson cries out an enthusiastic, if insincere 'Sorry!' as the guards regain their wits and begin firing, one particular optimistic soul running after the train waving a red flag. (*One assumes Holmes uses 'Berger' in the proper sense, as German for 'Citizen' rather than the man's name.)
If the Emin Pasha's train has lost none of it's pace, neither has the following; the two trains fly across an iron bridge one after the other. The Baron re-appears brandishing a revolver, Holmes ducking back inside the cab just as the bullet crashes through the windscreen. Foolishly, the Station Master cannot resist a peek at the Baron, receiving the next bullet to the arm. Doctors Watson and Freud attend the wounded man. Doubtless the fiend is ensuring his cargo arrives as promised. Urgently, Holmes asks how they can gain more speed. The injured Station Master responds; 'Release what we're pulling.' Holmes does just this, uncoupling the threadbare carriage with a wave. Meanwhile, the Baron, it would seem, has a similar idea, ordering two of the Pasha's turks to release the trailer wagon. Seeing the danger, Watson calls to Holmes, who comes to see for himself. Ordering Fritz (The group is evidently on friendly terms with the Engineer by this stage.) to operate the brake, they brace for the impact, which is much reduced by both deceleration and the spring-loaded buffers in use on both wagon and locomotive.
Exuberant, Holmes reports that the Pasha has made a fatal mistake, he needs as much speed as possible and Watson's service revolver. Freud asks what will he do? - he answers 'What I can.' Climbing out, he traverses the ironwork towards the front of the locomotive, an oncoming train hooting in greeting and, doubtless warning against such foolhardiness. Yelling back to his companions, he calls for more speed.
Finally at the smoke box door, Holmes leaps onto the Pasha's discarded wagon. Precariously, he picks his way along the Pasha's luggage under its tarpaulin, watched by Freud, Fritz and Watson. The distance is too far; he cannot bridge the gap. 'Closer!' is his cry. Fritz lays on all the speed his engine has and Holmes leaps across the gap, drawing the revolver. The locked door is unlocked by a bullet and he has gained entry, to find the Baron trying to load a pistol from the sumptuously-furnished carriage, ornate panelwork along either side laden with weapons of all kinds; katar push-daggers from India vying for space with fowling pieces and sabres.
With a wave of his pistol barrel, Holmes commands the Baron away from his revolver. Arrogantly, the Prussian remarks Holmes is very brave with a revolver; is he so confident with a sabre?. Taking two such weapons from their mounts, he offers to fight for Miss Deveraux, tossing one to try to catch Holmes off-guard. Thus, the duel begins. It is clear from the outset the Baron learnt well when he earned his duelling scar. Holmes is clearly out of his depth in a swordfight with an experienced blade, slashing wildly then losing his own when it sticks in a chair held as a shield by the Baron. Snatching up another sabre, Holmes resumes the fray, parrying and thrusting, but suddenly the train hurtles into a tunnel, plunging the carriage into darkness. As it exits, both combatants abandon the field, rather sensibly leaving the carriage, each man now hanging on to the roof rail.
Once on the roof, the duellists re-engage. Holmes proves himself an honourable man; he still retains his revolver in his left hand and could easily shoot the Baron to settle affairs. Not Holmes! - heroically he exchanges blows, swords clashing with the ring of steel as from some devilish blacksmith's shop. Battle continues along the roof, the Baron's skill inevitably forcing Holmes onto the defensive. Doctor Freud, however, has decided to investigate, going forward himself, as the Fräulein may need him. Watson makes to go after him, but Freud insists his wounded leg will not bear it. Following Sherlock's steps, the Viennese Doctor makes his way to the wagon and then onto the porch of the Pasha's train. He bursts into the rear carriage with a shout, but of course it is empty.
The unusual convoy passes through a station as Freud selects an Arabian musket as his weapon. Cocking the antique, he goes forward bravely.
A slash from the Baron's sabre, meanwhile has wounded Holmes in the hand, forcing him to drop Watson's revolver. His effort to recover it foiled by the sabre thrust into the roof between his fingers, Holmes stands, helpless as the Baron reveals that, unlike Sherlock Holmes, he has no honour; he draws a revolver and pulls the trigger. Nothing – the weapon is unloaded. Holmes recovers the service revolver and has the wicked scoundrel at his mercy. Facing forwards, the Baron can see what Holmes cannot, namely that the train is fast approaching a low brick-work bridge. From his vantage point behind, Watson shouts to Holmes to shoot. Holmes cannot, it simply is not in his blood to commit cold-blooded murder. The Baron ducks, at which Holmes turns to see a certain death rushing towards him. Ducking down, Holmes cheats fate by inches. Once through the tunnel, the fight resumes, even prone the two hack and slash at each other.
In the forward carriage the Pasha's Harem scream in terror as a wild-eyed Freud bursts in, musket aimed at the Emin Pasha, who stands there resplendent in formal attire, a dagger at his waist. His bodyguard stand, their daggers poised to strike the Doctor down. Two more men stand behind the Pasha, also armed.
Dr. Freud – 'Stop!'
The Emin Pasha – (Snarls) 'Throw it down, infidel!.'
'They will die to reach you!.'
Dr. Freud – 'Not before you do!.'
'I do not believe in this manner of solving problems, but you leave me no choice. Call them off.'
Emin Pasha – (Snarling) 'You haven't the nerve!.'
Dr. Freud – (Triumphant) 'I'm finding it.'
The Pasha, sweating, gives the word and his men throw down their knives. A whimper from beside the Doctor is revealed to come from Miss Deveraux, who is clearly drugged.
As Doctor Freud removes the chiffon veil covering her, one of the wily turks grabs a dagger to lung at Freud, who fires the musket, killing the man. Smiling, he pulls a revolver from his waistband and covers the remaining cohort. The train takes another viaduct, across a picturesque river. Any locals watching could be forgiven for wondering why two men stand on the rear carriage engaged in mortal combat. The Baron has a few tricks up his sleeve yet; turning into Holmes sword, he uses his left arm to check Holmes at the wrist, he continues to twist at the waist, to drive his elbow hard into the detective. This unexpected move sends Sherlock toppling over the side, clutching at the roof rail with his free hand he uses his sword to fend off the murderous attack that follows.
Standing on Holmes blade to trap it, the Baron is unbalanced when Holmes twists it. The villain then leaps across to the rear carriage*, hotly pursued by Holmes. The two men circle each other**. As Doctor Watson looks on, helpless to intervene, Holmes is backed towards the end of the carriage. Watson calls for more wood, the Station Master obliging. Despite the hindrance of his leg, Watson goes to his friend's aid, clambering along the locomotive as Holmes teeters on the brink. Abruptly, the Baron disarms Holmes with a circular sweep, sending his blade high into the air to land on the covered Wagon. There is nothing for it, but to leap after the sabre, the Baron jumping down after to press his attack. 'No backhand, Holmes!, no backhand!' Watson calls this to Holmes with a gesture as if playing tennis. Reminded of the Baron's deficiency, Holmes re-enters the fray,
forcing the Baron into a backhand stance from which he makes a wild, hopelessly high swing of his sabre. Holmes drives his own blade through the cad, who is done for. Watson congratulates Holmes on his victory. (*This is a continuity error; they were already on the rear carriage. **This is an assumption; if wrong this marks a second error of continuity following the first.)
At Doctor Freud's home once more, the Doctor tells a bandaged Holmes life will seem very quiet after his departure. Holmes is sure they will meet again. Sincerely, he tells Freud that his therapy has saved him from addiction. Beyond that, his judgement saved his life – his and Watson's. Placing his good hand on his companion's shoulder, he avers that there will be a lifetime to repay the debt... what can he do for Doctor Freud?. The Doctor asks to hypnotise Holmes one last time. But he is cured!. Freud explains there is a part of his mind to which he would also like to say farewell. Soon, Sherlock Holmes is under hypnosis. Doctor Freud asks when he started using cocaine, he answers when he was twenty. In the university. Why?. The boy climbs the stair in Holmes' mind. He tells Freud he was unhappy. Why did he become a detective?; to punish the wicked and see justice done. Watson watches silently as the session continues.
Dr. Freud – 'Have you ever known wickedness personally?.'
(The boy climbs the stair and we can see a resemblance to a young Holmes.)
Holmes - (A tear running down his face) 'Yes.'
Dr. Freud – 'What was this wickedness?.'
(The boy reaches the top of the stairs and looks into a bedroom where a couple writhe
in ecstasy on the bed. One is Holmes' mother.)
Holmes – 'My mother deceived my father.'
Dr Freud – 'She had a lover?.'
(Holmes sees the pair embracing.)
Holmes - (Hesitant) 'Yes.'
Dr. Freud – 'And what was the injustice?.'
'What was the injustice?.'
(We see the young Holmes face turn as his father, Squire Holmes dashes into the room.
Holmes' Mother shouts 'No!' twice.)
Holmes – He shot her.
Holmes revisits his Mother's murder by his father, who killed her with a shotgun, leaving the young Sherlock spattered with her blood. With the magnitude of this revelation, Doctor Freud leans back, hand over his mouth as he considers the effect such a trauma must have had on the young boy. Watson rises to his feet, his expression grim. Eventually, Freud returns to his patient to enquire about the lover. What became of him? - He fled, answers the recumbent Holmes. Who was he?. Doctor Freud must ask the question twice, before Holmes answers, gripped by the spectre of his forgotten past. Covering himself with the now bloodied sheets, the face of Holmes' tutor, Professor Moriarty is revealed, the young Holmes recoiling in horror. Freud need not look to Watson; the association is now clear to both men. Doctor Freud instructs his patient to sleep and remember nothing. Disgusted at the suffering his friend endured as a child, Watson utters; 'The Napoleon of crime. Holmes was right about him from the very beginning.'
Enmeshing his fingers, Doctor Freud brings his patient's case to a resolution; we understand not only the origin of his addiction, the hatred of Professor Moriarty, but also his suspicion of Women and his choice of profession – detector of wickedness, punisher of injustice. Generously, Watson claps his back, declaring Freud the greatest detective of them all. Doctor Freud explains he is a physician whose province is the troubled mind, by borrowing some of Holmes' techniques he applied them to the man himself. Freud reminds Watson of their discussion of the Un-Conscious, Holmes led him there. But how?. Freud refers to the English playwright Holmes deduced he was so fond of reading; 'We are such stuff as dreams are made on.' The Doctor awakens his patient, who only has the dimmest recollection of being asked some questions. Kindly, Doctor Freud tells him he did not reveal anything interesting. They must hurry as their train leaves in under an hour and Mrs. Freud wishes to say farewell – also their son on whom Holmes has made a distinct impression. Indeed, the Junior Freud wishes to study the violin. The Doctor makes Holmes a gift of his Uncles' violin as souvenir of his time in Vienna. Holmes is literally struck dumb by this altruistic act.
Taking their carriage to the station, Watson wonders what will become of Miss Deveraux. Petting Toby, the Bloodhound, Holmes observes women are like cats, invariably landing on their feet. Watson feels this unfair; she has been through a great deal, but Holmes responds; 'And not so much as thanked us, from saving her from a deal worse, to say nothing of enquiring after any hurts we may have suffered in her behalf.'
|Friends forever: Holmes bids Watson farewell.|
At the Nussdorf paddle steamer embarkation point, Watson reveals he has a theory about Miss Deveraux, based on study of Doctor Freud's techniques. No woman of her calibre – a lady – would descend to a life of shame without valid cause. Perceptive as ever, Watson remarks that the paddle steamer is not a train. Holmes agrees, with a smile. But they are going to return to London?. Watson is, Holmes is not, for the time being. Requiring some time alone, he is taking a holiday. He asks his friend to inform Mycroft of this and to tell Mrs. Hudson not to touch his rooms. Watson clearly fears relapse, but Holmes re-assures him he merely needs to complete his recovery. Offering his regards to Mrs. Watson, he pets Toby and boards. As the engines start up, Watson asks how he will live – he calls back when his arm has recovered to follow the career of a concert violinist named 'Sigerson'. And what shall he tell his readers? - 'Anything you like' comes the reply, with the supplemental 'Tell them I was murdered by my mathematics tutor.*' The two staunch friends wave each other good-bye and the boat pulls out into the Danube.
(*Which is, of course, exactly what Watson did, in 'The final problem'.)
Not quite; there is one final surprise. A crewman shows Holmes to a comfortable seat and he sits back, looking across to the passenger next to him then relaxing. Opening his eyes again, he looks back in disbelief – it is none other than Miss Deveraux!. Giving Holmes a long, lingering look that speaks of love, gratitude and uncertainty, she asks if he is surprised. Sherlock confesses that he is. He was not aware she was bound for Budapest, or contemplating going abroad. It is an odd co-incidence, but she is not sorry for it.
Marvelling at this extraordinary woman, Holmes' thoughts are plain from his face. Journeys alone are so tedious, she remarks, especially when they are long. Will this be a long journey? Asks Holmes – that all depends, but she does think it will seem shorter, if there are the two of them. Clearly won over, Sherlock Holmes reply is; 'I hope it will not seem too short.' The boat continues on its way down the mighty and beautiful river.
|Relaxing between takes.|
So, that is the film; at 11,552 words that has to be my longest description of any. I doubt many of you will read it. I hope you do – or better yet, find a copy of this remarkable – no, singular film. Nicholas Meyer wrote the screenplay along the lines of his best-selling book of the same name. Yet to read the book, I have read that the film follows fairly closely in its premise, but added the Emin Pasha character, the hypnotic revelations at the end of the film were also added, as was Miss Deveraux appearing on the paddle steamer. Further, Holmes' character was altered for the production, being more amenable to the female sex than usual. Sigmund Freud never had a son – his Daughter – still alive at the time of production - refused to be fictionalised. All of which brings us to the vexed question; is it a 'good' Sherlock Holmes film?.
|Redgrave, Duvall, Williamson and Arkin pose aboard the Pasha's train set.|
Yes, very much so; Nicol Williamson is magnificent, easily the match of all, but Brett and not far from his (highly - distinguished) heels at that. His performance in Excalibur first alerted me to his talent, he stole that film with consummate skill mixed with sheer talent. Williamson portrays the Detective as flawed and human, susceptible to vice and damaged from his addiction. A rare talent. The actress playing the ill-fated Mrs. Holmes, Jill Townsend was Williamson's wife at the time of production. Casting Robert Duvall as Watson was, apparently a 'conscious revolt' against the bumbling, stumbling characterisation of actors such as Nigel Bruce. Sadly, his British accent is atrocious – it makes Dick van Dyke sound authentic, making it hard to take the character seriously. He sounds like he's trying to retain a suppository after a coughing fit. In all other respects he plays the perfect Watson – the intelligent, staunch and brave friend we knew from the Doyle originals. Alan Arkin's Freud is inspired – perhaps the accent a touch heavy, but close enough to be believable. He plays the Viennese Doctor with aplomb in a great supporting role.
Olivier's Moriarty is watchable, but you wonder what the great man would have done with the orthodox evil Professor. Had he played him in earnest it might have been the role of the century!. Dear old Charles Gray is wonderful as Mycroft Holmes – the role he reprised later for the Jeremy Brett series. Jeremy Kemp is a thoroughly bad baddie – unlikable, arrogant and an utter s**t; a nicely-handled performance. Kemp later played Dr. Grimesby Roylott in the Brett episode 'The Speckled Band.' Vanessa Redgrave's Lola Deveraux is perhaps the only performance to match Williamson's. She shines throughout, giving Williamson a credible woman for which his Sherlock falls. Satirist John Bird makes an appearance as Berger, the Station-Master. Joel Grey gives Lowenstein such a thoroughly nasty sheen of slime that you might forget he is the very same that played the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret. Solid supporting acts all round.
|The actors in character for a publicity shot.|
Director Herbert Ross went on to make such films as California Suite, Steel Magnolias and The Secret of My Success. Starting as an actor-choreographer, his record of stage and screen hits is enviable. He does a fine job keeping this film on the rails, as it were, but the pace will seem slow to modern viewers. Further, the over-statement of plot points gets tedious – especially Freud telling us what we already know. The production, however, is first-rate – with James Bond designer Ken Adam on board this won't be too much of a shock.
|Ken Adam's set designs bring Victorian life to the screen so flawlessly, the viewer is to be forgiven for not noticing there is any set design.|
The sets are High Victorian Heaven – Freud's office and the living room of 221b simply shout 'Sherlock Holmes!.' None other than Stephen Sondheim wrote 'The Madame's Song.' Clearly, the actors do a fair share of their own stunt-work – you can see the professionals at work if you look carefully during the train fight sequence.
|An alternative poster.|
Nor are there enough goofs for a separate section; apart from a few continuity errors all that remains is during the Lipizzaner attack, the handlers, clearly visible and dressed in black holding thin wires, presumably to steer the horses and stop them in emergency. Obviously a difficult, dangerous sequence to film this hardly qualifies as an error. If you look closely, as Freud and Watson take to the tennis court a movie light is just visible behind a gap in the construction of the court. Cocaine is not physically addictive; the horrors suffered by Holmes do not reflect reality. It is, however, highly habit-forming, although physical withdrawal is not the awful process endured by addicts to, say, Heroin. I have some niggles with this film despite my admiration for it. I confess – and apologise now, that I have not the character to let trivialities lie; I cannot believe that a mind of Holmes' order would have allowed Miss Deveraux to remain undefended – surely Watson could have been spared his limp-about-Vienna to guard her whilst he and Freud pursued Lowenstein?.
|The film received just two Oscar nominations (Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Costume Design.)|
Locations for the film include the Reform Club, Pall Mall, standing in for the Diogenes Club. The arena where Holmes and co. are nearly murdered by horse is The Winter Riding School of the World-famous Spanish riding School of Vienna. I once had the great privilege of seeing the Lipizzaner horses at the stables in Yugoslavia and have never forgotten those beautiful creatures and their fantastic abilities. The Real Tennis court at Queen's club hosted the tennis duel. The train sequences were shot on the Severn Valley Railway, Shropshire.
|The French poster.|
So – often described as 'pastiche', this film is nothing of the sort. A witty, well-written and enjoyable film which suffers only from a slow pace – a failing that I can easily overlook. Fans of Sherlock Holmes – Sherlockians (Agh!) will love it. Finally – the score. We award The Seven Percent Solution;