Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Without A Clue - Holmes with a twist...

An ornate French ormolu clock chimes the hour. It is four o'clock. Marble statues look on mutely as a door opens, whining on its hinges. Two burglars enter, one setting down a sledgehammer. The harsh sound of breaking glass and gloved hands grasp a trophy of solid gold. One of the blackguards assesses its value at over ten thousand pounds!. They will be rich... but a shadow steps forward, a man with a pipe in his mouth. 'Not this time, gentlemen.' It is Sherlock Holmes!.

Striking a match on the wall, the Great Detective reveals himself with a wry smile. Calling for Watson, his able assistant steps forth with a resolute 'Right you are, Holmes.' Throwing a switch, Watson illuminates the marbled halls of the Royal Gallery with the harsh, electric light so much in favour recently. The two villains make a run for it, but – of course! - Holmes has enlisted the aid of several burly constables who rush from their hiding place to apprehend the crooks. Here too, Inspector Lestrade, watching on as the housebreakers fight the Police in a desperate, vicious struggle.

Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley are Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
The Inspector steps forward to arrest the principal burglar... and is felled by a sharp left. The purloiner then makes to leave by the way he came, only to be halted in his tracks by the calm authority of the World's first Consulting Detective. Holmes tells the man that there is no escape, but the felon then snatches up an ancient crossbow, aiming the still-deadly barb at Holmes. 

The Constables, who have the man's accomplice in their grasp, stop in their tracks, powerless to intervene. Watson, however, has concealed himself behind a suit of armour and at the critical moment, sends it crashing down on the thief, the bolt firing into a display dummy with lethal finality. Taking a puff on his famous meerschaum calabash, Holmes assures his friend and colleague he is none the worse for his ordeal, before turning his attention to John Clay, one of London's least notorious thieves. Having paid this back-handed compliment, Holmes calls for Lestrade and the cuffs are fitted for Clay's wrists. All that remains is a polite exchange of complimentary nature, in which amateur and professional indulge. Holmes declares the case closed as Lestrade departs, trying to hide his chagrin at being out-done once more.

No sooner than both are alone, Watson berates Holmes, raising his cane in fury; 'You idiot!, confound you!.' Holmes is put back and confused; he did everything Watson told him to do after all... the titles play, a rather delightful series of hand-tinted photographs the background to the credits. The film proper begins with Holmes and Watson in a carriage. What did he do wrong?, Watson tells him; never declare a case closed until he says it's closed!. The carriage rolls up outside 221b Baker Street and the waiting gentlemen of the press. As Sherlock Holmes greets them the questions start; how did he know the thieves were tunnelling into the Royal Gallery?. Watson tries to field this one, but is rudely pulled aside so the Great Detective can be photographed. It was, he tells them, an elementary deduction based on the clues at hand. Didn't Scotland Yard have access to these very same clues? - Holmes sees and observes. An impertinent fellow ventures this to be redundant thinking, at which the cold gaze of the finest intellect in Criminology is turned upon him. Holmes then challenges the impudent reporter to describe the front of 221, without first looking. He fails, miserably and a triumphant Holmes takes his leave to retire to the famed lodgings which have, in themselves become part of legend.

Once inside, Holmes crows; he put that reporter in his place. Exasperated, patience wearing thin, Watson asks;
'Just for the record... many windows are there
in the front of this building?'
Holmes - 'I haven't the foggiest idea.'
Watson - 'There are fifteen windows, you fool!.
Unable to contain himself, Watson pursues the matter as Holmes peruses the new copy of The Strand magazine. He informs him the reporter he embarrassed knows how to type – is near-sighted and recently returned from Holiday. And how does Watson know that?. Elementary – from the creases on his wrist where a typist presses the table... Holmes interrupts the terse lecture to ask his friend's opinion on the likeness on the cover of the magazine.

At his wits end with this imbecile, Watson takes to his room. Discarding his image, Holmes saunters over to a table filled with chemical apparatus, all rubber tubes and glass phials containing bubbling solutions. Taking up two of the beakers, he examines them with the curiosity of the unschooled. One is deep blue and inert, the other a lustrous green and bubbling ominously. He decides to mix them. In his room, Watson exclaims that something's afoot, just as a tremendous explosion blasts his door open with a crack of thunder and a cloud of smoke. Mortified, Watson inspects the carnage, yelling across to where Holmes is seated, concealed by the newspaper he is affecting to read. How many times has he told him to stay away from his experiments?. Lowering the paper, Holmes asks if something's wrong – his face blackened and hair on end. Watson is spending an increasing amount of time correcting Holmes' blunders...

Watson - May I remind you, for your information, sir,
- that your opinions are my opinions.
Holmes - Oh piffle!
Watson - I created the character of Sherlock Holmes, (Violin music)
and hired you merely to play the part,
snatching you, as it were, from the gutter.
Holmes (Apparently playing the violin) - Hardly the gutter, old boy.
- After all, I was once an actor of note.
Watson - Whose last play, I believe,
ran a total of one half of one performance.
Holmes (Stops 'playing', but music continues) - I'll have you know,
Shadow Of Death with Reginald Kincaid was a towering work
decades ahead of its time.
Gramophone voice – Lesson Two, Advanced Bowing.
Holmes removes needle from record.

This, then the basis for the story; if you hadn't already guessed before that last piece of dialogue, Holmes is, in fact a sham. Dr. John Watson is the real genius, using a destitute Actor named Kincaid to act the part of a great detective, allowing him to avoid the limelight and pursue both a medical career and chronicle his own cases, with Holmes the hero. Now we have exposed the twist, we shall return to 221b...

Holmes feels slighted; Watson has underestimated his own native deductive abilities. As the sound of feet on stairs comes, he estimates the visitor to be a woman, five feet five, weight about twelve and a half stone, age fifty-four. Opening the door reveals a pack of street urchins, the Baker Street Irregulars, no less. Well aware 'Holmes' is no towering intellect, Wiggins, the leader asks if Holmes has blown himself up again. Holmes then notices his pocket watch missing and Wiggins hands it back sanguinely as the fraud retires to his room, pausing only to hoist out the smallest of the Irregulars who had been in there. Turning to business, Watson tells the assemblage that there is trouble concerning the break-in at the Royal Gallery. Wiggins heard Holmes had closed the case – to mocking laughter from the rest of the lads. Watson explains he will correct the error in the telling of the story, intending to make 'Holmes'' gaffe appear a cunning ruse. No, something is not right; John Clay does not deal in objets d'art. He needs the boys to look around, 'Eyes sharp, ears quick – a copper for your trouble and a shilling for what you learn.' Holmes re-appears and shoos the Irregulars out, only to get his watch lifted again.

Holmes/Kincaid berates Watson for be-littling him, how is he expected to maintain a character when he be-littles him?. After some banter regarding handwriting and excrement, a knock; Mrs. Hudson, holding aloft a bottle of cheap whisky. He's been 'at it' again. The actor maintains an occasional libation helps him to stiffen his resolve, but the landlady retorts his resolve should be pickled by now. Fraught with emotion – possibly not entirely shammed – Holmes cries of the pressure of committing to memory endless streams of data; clues and deductions to be parroted back for Lestrade and the press. Endless twaddle!. 'Twaddle!' ejaculates Watson (Well, he ejaculated for Arthur Doyle on occasion.) Does he refer to the systematic gathering of evidence and the logical deductions based thereon?. 
Holmes - I am referring to twaddle!
And you would be well served to include fewer
of these dreary details in future chronicles,
and place greater emphasis on me.
I am, after all, the one
the public really cares about.

Those of you familiar with Arthur Doyle's works will appreciate the joke; the reversal of Holmes' oft-stated preference for Watson to include more of the forensic data and dry facts than to dwell on the sensational and romantic aspects of the cases. Nicely done, but I digress...

All this talk of twaddle has proven the last straw, Watson throwing Kincaid bodily from the house followed by his belongings. Mrs. Hudson expresses her approval in her soft Scots burr. As he takes his leave, Kincaid says that once he was a figment of Watson's imagination, but now Sherlock Holmes belongs to the whole World. Behind closed doors, Watson and Mrs. Hudson are jubilant; they are free of 'that ungrateful baggage'.

The Publisher Greenhough is played by the late, great Peter Cook.
At the offices of The Strand Magazine, the editorial staff are startled by a bellow of outrage from the offices of their boss. Norman Greenhough, Publisher emerges from his office to assure the staff nothing is amiss. The late Peter Cook, that titan of comedic wit plays Greenhough – the name itself a reference to the actual editor of The Strand, Herbert Greenhough Smith. Cook delivers his standard performance; i.e. he is simply unsurpassable. As he only gets one scene let us enjoy it...
Seated, Watson explains himself to his Publisher. About nine years ago, a patient of his, a Scotland Yard Inspector was investigating a murder. Watson solved the case, attributing this success to a non-existent detective. Why?; at the time, he was anticipating appointment to the staff of a conservative and stuffy medical college. Had they known of his sideline, his hopes would be dashed.

Greenhough - So you hired this Reginald Kincaid?
Watson - He was an actor.
Unfortunately, he was also a gambler,
a womaniser and a drunkard.
Greenhough (Standing by a bookshelf) - John, you have jeopardised
the integrity of English literature. (Opens hidden panel in bookcase revealing it to be a drinks cabinet.)

Unsurpassable!. Pouring a stiff one, Greenhough laments that he should have known, 'Holmes' was always borrowing large sums and not paying them back. Watson is appalled, but the Publisher assures him they simply deducted these from his royalties. Standing, the Doctor is determined the public should now know the truth. The truth!. Appalled, Greenhough stands aghast, hands shaking as he takes a pull of his whisky while Watson unveils his latest creation; The Crime Doctor!. This simply won't do and Greenhough explains the obvious. People buy The Strand expecting Sherlock Holmes to solve the case. He is on the verge of using underhand tactics to force Watson to continue, when the noisy arrival of Wiggins interrupts the proceedings. Hurrying out to the editorial floor, Greenhough demands an explanation, the street arab bumping up against him in his excitement. They've found something by the Docks!. Cheeky as ever, Wiggins then tries to chat up a pretty secretary. Watson leaves, deaf to his Publisher's threats to sue him for everything he's got. We leave Norman Greenhough wondering where his watch has gone.

Wiggins leads Watson to the burnt-out shell of the Camden paper mill, burned down at the same time as the Clay robbery, four this morning (The Irregular saucily consults Greenhough's pilfered watch.) Going to inspect the scene, Watson is stopped by a constable* who is distinctly unimpressed by the 'Crime Doctor.' When Watson reluctantly mentions his authorship of the Holmes mysteries, the constable lights up, in awe of the legendary Detective. Did he send Watson?. He most certainly did not – and hearing this, the Constable refuses entry to the smouldering ruins.
*Played by Gregor Fisher, of Rab C.Nesbitt fame. 
Gregor Fisher plays a Constable.
221b and Watson is using the cover of The Strand as a dart board. In loud despair, he berates the stupidity of mankind when the landlady arrives and pleads for him to lower his voice – he has visitors. As the visitors ascend the stair, Watson tries various poses before suddenly remembering the makeshift dart board. 

He just manages to remove it and leap onto the sofa as Lord Smithwick of the Treasury and Inspector Lestrade enter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has come to consult Holmes, Watson offering the services of the Crime Doctor. Lord Smithwick is not amused and makes to leave. In desperation, Watson stalls by claiming Holmes will be back this evening. The Chancellor shall return at seven. 

Caroline Milmoe plays Connie, victim of Holmes' bottom-pinching.
The Criterion is a rather bawdy establishment. A chanteuse is singing 'Where did you get that hat?' to the general amusement of the patronage. Connie, a pretty young woman arrives and has her backside pinched. Fuming, she demands to know who did it. Fairly stewed, Kincaid introduces himself as Sherlock Holmes. Putting his arm around her protectively the 'detective' offers an assessment of her predicament. By careful observation of the patrons of the premises, he has deduced the identity of the fiend who pinched her.

Pinching her bottom, he admits his guilt. Just then, Watson's carriage drops him off outside and he arrives to find Kincaid's credit has run out at the bar. (The barman is played by Steven O'Donnell, none other than 'Spudgun' from the legendary tv comedy series Bottom) Standing his drink, Watson asks Kincaid to return. Forced to admit he needs the actor, Watson states he needs him for one final case.

Well into his cups, Kincaid states he doesn't need Watson and claims he has been honing his own powers of deduction. Stopping a gentleman, Kincaid guesses him to be a reporter, recently returned from the Indian subcontinent. The man is a barrister – and has never seen India. Without missing a beat, Kincaid comes back with 'But you do read the Times?.' Of course, the man does. While Watson sighs and rolls his eyes Kincaid produces a playing card from his hand with a magician's flourish and hands it to the startled barrister. 'My card.' At the end of his tether, Watson asks if Kincaid will come with him; he would rather waltz naked through the fires of Hell. At this, Watson stalks off and two burly thugs approach Kincaid.
Kincaid - Ah, gentlemen! And what can I do for you?
A mystery to be solved?
Thug One - You might say that.
There's a little matter of a gambling debt...
and the mystery is why you ain't paid it.
Kincaid - Gentlemen, you are dealing with Sherlock Holmes.
A man of honour and character beyond reproach.
Constance Payton - There he is.
That's the bloke who pinched my bum

Kincaid then makes a hasty departure, hotly pursued by the two thugs. By the time Watson has returned to 221b, Lord Smithwick and Lestrade are waiting impatiently. Watson claims Holmes has asked him to take down the details and begin the investigation without him. 
Jeffrey Jones is Lestrade, Lord Smithwick is portrayed by Nigel Davenport.
The Chancellor isn't having any of this, nor Watson's attempt to convince him he is Holmes' equal in deduction. He observes that Smithwick recently recovered from illness, has spent time in China and smokes a rosewood pipe. Lestrade has no time for these 'parlour games'. 'Doctor, this is a matter for professionals.' No sooner the words than he gets the door slammed open into his face, a frantic Kincaid bursting in appealing for help, there's two big men... 'Holmes, you're back!.' Watson welcomes him warmly and bundles him away into his old room, asserting this is one of Holmes' brilliant disguises, that of a drunken lout. As the door slams shut the sound of banging and slapping can be heard.

In no more than ten seconds the door opens for Watson to announce Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who enters – rather oddly – in Inverness cape and Deerstalker to welcome his client with a sober, pithy quip aimed at Lestrade. Lord Smithwick is delighted and when Holmes infers trouble at the Treasury the old duffer is mystified. How did he know?. The same way he can tell he's recently recovered from an illness, smokes a pipe, probably rosewood and has spent time in – Watson gently prompts him here – China. Amazing!. When Watson said it the credulous old fart couldn't have been less impressed. Lestrade seems to be trying to stave off apoplexy, clearly unimpressed (And possibly still concussed) by the fraud. Holmes wonders if a sherry is in order, but the Chancellor asserts the matter imperils the fate of the Empire. A whisky then?. 

'Watson, pay close attention.' The case opens to reveal two printing plates, for the Bank of England's Five Pound notes. Got any ink?. They are clever forgeries – and while Holmes goes to tear through his room Watson correctly adduces the Empire is indeed imperilled from forgery. Holmes finally emerges with a bottle in hand. Lord Smithwick fears the Kingdom could find itself awash with counterfeit notes – and he doesn't have to tell Holmes what that would mean. Yes, he does; economic ruin for England as no-one would know which notes to trust. 

Watson, meanwhile, has been examining a forged plate and gives his mountebank sleuth the wink; In his best 'Holmes' manner, Kincaid accepts the case. His fee will be five hundred pounds, payable in £10 notes. That would be the gambling debt paid, then...

The Chancellors' Hansom takes him and Lestrade from Baker Street, Lestrade voicing his misgivings about Holmes and the old fool enraptured by him. As they depart, we see a carriage waiting farther up the street. Inside, Sebastian Moran asks 'Do you suppose he took the case, Professor?.' Leaning forward, Professor Moriarty!. His saturnine features suggestive of a latter-day Mephistopheles, the Professor's face is positively beatific as he replies to his henchman; 'Watson?, my dear boy, how could he resist?.' Moriarty raps up with his cane and the carriage departs. 

Paul Freeman is Professor Moriarty.
The hallowed halls of Blenheim Pa... I mean, the Royal Mint. Ahem. The massive door is opened by liveried flunkies to admit Holmes and Watson. The Chancellor greets them warmly, introducing an employee, whose name escapes him. The man, Hadlers is then questioned ineptly by Lestrade, much to his alarm. The Chancellor informs the Inspector that Mr. Holmes will take over and Holmes promptly snubs the official of the police by having him assist... in holding his hat and coat. 

Inspecting the vault, Holmes asks who had access to it. The Chancellor, the Commissioner for Seals and Engravings and the printing supervisor, one Peter Giles. Prompted deftly by Watson, Holmes asks to see this third person, to be informed he failed to appear for work. Aha!. Lestrade has done his homework and states Giles to be a widower and father to one child, Lesley. Hadlers adds she is a pretty girl and the lecherous instincts of 'Holmes' are aroused. The Chancellor will have none of it – Giles has worked at the Mint for over thirty years and is a man of religion. He was always quoting from the Psalms, informs the obsequious Hadlers.

Holmes - The Psalms? One of my favourite books.
The Bible, wasn't it?
(Lord Smithwick looks confused and somewhat aghast.)

Another prompt and Holmes declares he will investigate both Giles' thoroughly, leaving to the rapt admiration of the Chancellor. Lestrade dashes for his own carriage and arrives at the house of the Giles family just as Holmes is about to break down the door – which Watson demonstrates to be unlocked with a gesture of withering contempt. The Inspector halts the two amateurs, telling them they can't just go into someone's residence, poking about and disturbing their privacy... that's for Scotland Yard.

Clumsy as ever, Lestrade nearly wipes his feet on the post, which Watson takes and examines. After a gag about French postcards, Holmes reads the message on a postcard, signed 'L'. Who could this be?. Drily, Lestrade states the obvious; Lesley Giles. Watson asks Holmes to go about his sleuthing routine to bamboozle the Inspector, leaving him free to do the real sleuthing. Flourishing his magnifying glass, Holmes then goes upstairs, followed dutifully by Lestrade. 

Watson sets about finding clues while Holmes hums and ha's and 'My-word's around the bedroom. Lestrade goes to examine an open bible and Holmes stops him with a shout of caution; picking the good book up he riffles through it while stating 'There may be fingerprints.' (!) The book of Psalms, as Holmes anticipated – the Bible. Lestrade is trying to see the connections, by this point his facial expressions have more than a passing resemblance to Marty Feldman.

While Lestrade jumps around at every false clue, Watson's tweezers hold a real one; a fragment of a map bearing the partial word 'ermere' over a picture of a lake. Holmes comes in on hands and knees, with Lestrade following suit. Watson is literally transfixed at the sight of the 'Great Detective' examining patterns in the carpet, so much so that he's caught holding the fragment by Lestrade, who declares it possible evidence. You'd think a British lake ending in 'ermere' would hold no mystery, but these are no ordinary sleuths, these are moronic ones. 

Watson looks heavenwards for strength while the two dullest minds in England compete for second place. Eventually, Lestrade comes up with the dazzlingly obvious; Lake Windemere. A perfect place to hide at this time of year, opines Lestrade. He will wire up to the Lake and have the case wrapped up in no time. Waiting for the laughing Inspector to leave, Holmes vents his fury; imagine a Sherlock Holmes mystery where Lestrade solves the bloomin' case!. Chuckling to himself, Watson assures his friend there's a healthy chunk of mystery yet to be solved. They are off to Windemere...

Whistle blowing and steam up, a rather pretty little steam locomotive conveys two carriages along a rural line in that most picturesque of English settings, the Lake District. Watson is at his pad, writing up this latest adventure even as it unfolds. As was his habit, Sherlock Holmes sat in the railway carriage lost in thought. Of course, the Kincaid version of Holmes is dancing what could pass for a Victorian cha-cha, singing to himself. A pleasantly busty woman is coming the other way and the carriageway narrow. Pressed bosom to chest as they pass, she asks if he is indeed Holmes. When he answers in the affirmative, she immediately sets about him with her bag. 'You put me old man in gaol, you did!.' Holmes retreats from the attack as, oblivious, his Chronicler continues his work. 'From these moments of quiet, intense reflection would inevitably spring some new...insight.' Watson tests his words aloud before committing them to paper. The insight springing from this reflection?; 'Stop it you silly cow!.' After some more comedic dialogue we arrive at Windemere station, where a civic reception has been laid on, brass band and all. Ever the trouper, Holmes alights, trademark calabash in hand, to receive his public. Or is that deceive?.

A worthy bustles up, his chain proclaiming him to be such. The Right Honourable Gerald Fitzwalter Johnson, Lord Mayor no less, with his daughter, Christabel. On a plate would be the expression today.

Jennifer Guy gives Holmes the eye; she plays Christabel, the daughter of the Lord Mayor.

However, the flash powder flashes and as Christabel and Holmes exchange glances that would light wet tinder, Watson whispers a warning; don't even think about it. The Rt. Hon. Has news – namely a man matching Peter Giles' description arrived two days previously. The witness is a dock worker, Andrews, done up in his Sunday best, in a ludicrously over-sized Bowler, clearly borrowed for the Great Occasion. Stiff as a rabbit in headlights, Andrews recites his evidence. The man arrived with a heavy suitcase, handcuffed to his wrist. He hired a local boatman, Donald Ayres to take him across to a cottage he had rented. Andrews tops this lot off with a bow resembling an attempt at a head-butt. The crowd awaits the Great Detective's next word, but so mesmerised by this performance is Kincaid/Holmes, he is struck dumb. At a hiss from Watson, Holmes orders him to make a note of this, to the applause of the throng.

The ubiquitous shepherd and dogs chivvy their sheep along the street as an open carriage conveys the two detectives and Lord Mayor, who informs them neither Giles or boatman has been seen since. It is his belief the storm may have done them in. Storm?, they went out in a storm?. Ah, here we are... our finest hotel.

Right on cue, the sign for the 'Shakespeare Arms' falls off its mount to swing forlornly. The proprietress is delighted to see Holmes, as is her dog, 'The Duke'. (A noble performance by Prince the Wonder Dog in his only credited film role.) The Duke expresses his delight in what looks suspiciously like an attempt to tear Holmes limb from limb. As the potty old thing takes her guests upstairs, Holmes wrenches the pommel from the newel post and throws it for the dog – cue comedy glass smashing sound. The celebrated Detective gets the King Lear room, Watson's is upstairs. The Hamlet room has a lovely view of the lake, if the carpets are a bit poorer for the mice nibbling at them. Watson's room, indeed has a splendid vista, the terrace even more so.

Enchanted, Watson strolls out to one of the finest scenes in all England. Beneath a dramatic, roiling clouded sky the hills are lit with the most exquisite range of auburns and russets, mossy green fading to sage. The wooded islands of the lake issue their hidden challenge to the explorer and the gunmetal expanse of the water its warning. Watson's reverie is interrupted by a knocking, Holmes beckoning him in. As the Doctor leaves the terrace, a familiar face appears below. Sebastian Moran. 
Sebastian Moran as played by Tim Killick
Holmes asks a favour; as he played Lear once, with unhappy memories, would Watson mind swapping?. He agrees and the two exchange keys.

The Plough Inn, the yokel's local. Despairing of such dreariness, Holmes' mood brightens when the villagers offer him a drink. While Holmes indulges, Moran quietly saws through the railings of the Hamlet room's terrace. Poor Watson can only watch from the wings as the whisky flows and the thespian engages his audience. Things don't improve when the serving girl, her gaze on the great man, scrapes his left-overs onto Watson's meal and takes both. Holmes starts to regale his admirers with the tale of the The Manchurian Mambo, until Watson enlightens him; Mamba. Smooth as treacle, the old fraud goes back to relate how he opened the door to a bunch of Manchurians all performing a festive Caribbean dance. Patience exhausted once more, Watson takes a stroll, consoling himself with the thought that it is just this one more time, then he is rid of the fellow. Back in the Plough, the story concludes with Holmes recounting how he dodged a snake's strike – if it wasn't for his fancy footwork, he'd be standing here a dead man. Offered another drink, he states me must be up early. Perhaps one more...

Staggering through the door of the Shakespeare Arms, Holmes is clearly three sheets to the wind. Not to worry; The Duke has waited up specially, showing his appreciation in his customary toothy manner and knocking his guest clean out of the door. Battling his way back in to his (exchanged) room, Holmes informs Duke he isn't the Hound of the Baskervilles. Not a bad attempt, though. Fresh air is what's needed. Predictably, he goes straight for the sawn-off section of railing and is catapulted over, his fall saved by his cape, which snags on the railing's spear-points. 

Dangling perilously above more spear-points he calls for help. Watson is asleep, however, waking to see the unusual image of his creation hung outside his window screaming for assistance. Dashing up to the Hamlet room and out to the terrace, the Doctor manages to haul his friend to safety. Snarling and barking, The Duke comes to help too – straight through the window pane and at Holmes, knocking him onto his backside with a terrific crash and clattering. 'Fascinating', Watson announces – the railing has clearly been cut through.

The morning and the pair step from a steam-launch crewed by a boatman and constable and onto a jetty. The water laps at the shore by a stone cottage where Lord Mayor The Right Honourable Gerald Fitzwalter Johnson awaits. The cottage is the one Mr. Giles leased through a London company. The worthy goes forward, but is halted by a stern admonition from Watson. Mr. Holmes must have a chance to inspect the area for clues. Cheekily, Holmes adds he has trained Watson well and they approach the cottage.

Holmes (Looking up at the sky) - What am I looking for?
Watson - Footprints.
Holmes – Right. (Looks down)
Have I found any yet?
Watson - No, not yet.
Holmes - Right. Let me know when I do.

Inside, it is clear from all the dust that the place hasn't been occupied in months. No sooner has Watson observed this than the Constable comes rushing in; they've found Donald Ayres. 'Who?' asks Holmes. The body of the boatman is brought ashore from the lake by two more constables. As Watson and co. arrive, the first constable goes to examine the corpse, but the Lord Mayor insists Holmes be the first to do so. (Somewhat of an odd choice with a Doctor present.) Clearly, Holmes isn't happy about this, but a shake of the head from Watson leaves him no choice.

This examination consists of a bit of kicking and poking with a stick. More eye rolling and sighing from Watson as Sherlock Holmes delivers his verdict, it being his opinion that the man is dead. He's a genius!. A recurring joke we've already seen – whatever inanity Holmes offers in his 'official' voice is received as the work of a master-mind.

At the railway station, Doctor Watson purchases two first-class tickets for London, aware of the loitering presence of Moran. Moriarty's man is clearly keeping tabs on the investigation. Signing autographs, Holmes offers the Lord Mayor his opinion. Clearly Giles and Ayres were caught in the storm and drowned.

Lord Mayor - Yes, and with that heavy suitcase attached
to his wrist and the lake being so deep...
Holmes - Quite. Pulled the poor wretch to the bottom,
struggling futilely, flailing desperately, as the cold,
black water sealed his fate for ever...
Well, it's certainly been a lark. Thank you.

As the train takes the pair from Windermere, Holmes speculates on what they know. Giles was on the boat. Watson corrects him - No, he wasn't. He arrived in Windermere. No, he didn't. Ah – well, we know Giles was behind the theft of the printing plates. No, he wasn't. Is there anything we do know for a fact?. Only that there's an evil mastermind behind all of it. Holmes pulls the communicating cord, sending the train screeching to a halt. In an adjacent field, Holmes is clearly panicked by the news Professor Moriarty is at the centre of the plot. As the other passengers and train crew watch in bemusement, Watson attempts to calm Holmes' nerves. He points out the attempt on Holmes life was an attempt on his own; he being the intended occupant of the room in question. Moriarty knows Watson is the only match for his evil genius and knows Holmes is an idiot!. 
London, night. The lamp-lighters go about their trade. A carriage drops a pretty young lady off outside the home of Peter Giles.

Miss Lesley Giles? Watson introduces himself, along with a distinctly nervous Holmes. In his 'working' voice, Holmes informs her of the Government's suspicion against her Father and that he is at the bottom of Lake Windermere, drowned like a rat. Watson just fails to catch her as she faints. Reviving her with salts, Watson complies with Holmes' directive to fetch water – which Holmes then drinks. The Doctor states she fainted before Holmes could add his own theory; that her Father is innocent, alive and well. He also believes he has been abducted.

Showing her up to Giles' room, Watson construes from the unmade bed in an otherwise impeccable house, this was the scene of abduction. An imposter went up to Windermere and staged a mock drowning, unfortunately resulting in the death of the boatman by murder. Forgetting himself, Holmes asks why. As Lesley turns to him in surprise, he raises a finger and changes tone; 'Why, you ask... fill in the details, Watson.' Clearly, the intent was to make everyone believe both Printer and Plates were resting at the bottom of Lake Windermere. Effortlessly, Holmes concludes that the fool Lestrade would believe the case closed, leaving the villain free to wreak havoc with the economy of the Empire. 'All quite elementary', states Holmes, opening the door to two tough-looking stooges. The door is thrown open, trapping Holmes behind as the thugs go for Lesley. Gallantly, Watson leaps into the fray, but is hurled bodily over the bed. Screaming for dear life, Lesley is being carried bodily down-stairs. Finally free, Holmes rugby-tackles the second goon, grabbing his foot and they crash down the stair case together. The other smashes a vase over the detectives' head, knocking him senseless. As Watson bounds down the stairs to resume the fight, the two make a run for it, leaving Lesley behind.

Watson ensures the two kidnappers have gone, returning to find Lesley gushing over Holmes' bravery. The Doctor examines the shoe Holmes tore from the villain's foot. Holmes gives her some old flannel about danger being his trade and Watson agrees she should stay at Baker Street. Once there, Watson sets to work examining the shoe, a patent leather design from Italy, caked with mud from the vicinity of the Thames.
Lysette Anthony is Lesley Giles - or is she?.
Mud isn't the only dirt here as Holmes' nature re-asserts itself with a sneak through the keyhole of his bedroom where Lesley is undressing. As she removes a stocking, the pervy old git (A British turn of phrase usually associated with Members of Parliament.) lets out an involuntary whoop and as the startled girl opens the door, Holmes makes a leap to sit on a chair, breaking Watson's glass as he goes. Watson reassures her she will be undisturbed, giving Holmes a knowing look as he does so. 

Morning and the bell in the Westminster Clock Tower chimes for ten. Ok, Big Ben chimes ten.

Happy now?. Honestly... in 221b, the clock sounds it's own version of the Westminster Chimes and Lesley emerges from Holmes' room. Holmes himself is snoring away on the sofa, beneath a tiger skin. She wakes Holmes, who is surprised to find Watson gone. Ever the Lech, Holmes tries it on and, getting the picture, she withdraws to finish dressing. As Holmes goes to the keyhole, a scandalised Mrs. Hudson catches him in flagrante.

Pat Keen is Mrs. Hudson.
Manufacturing his own outrage, the miscreant stands accusingly. How many times must he tell her to knock?. Has she no respect for people's privacy?. The indomitable landlady takes Lesley under her wing, inviting her down to tea in the safety of her own quarters. As for Holmes, he has visitors; Lord Smithwick and Lestrade. Though events did not turn out as hoped, Her Majesty has insisted Holmes receive a reward. Two constables bring in the reward – a portrait of Queen Victoria. Holmes shams delight as only a professional can. 

Lestrade cannot resist a dig at Holmes' abilities; a pity he had to go all that way to confirm the Inspector's theories. Lestrade's theories were wrong, rejoins Holmes. The Inspector charges that Holmes refuses to accept he solved the case first. Giles is dead and the plates lost, case closed. Case OPEN, is Holmes' comeback; neither Giles nor the plates were ever in Windermere. This last elicits a grimace from Watson, who has entered the room. Lord Smithwick gestures animatedly and the constables hurry out with the painting. Dropping Holmes right in it, Watson states Holmes expects to solve the case within three days... and leaves the clueless actor to fill in the details. He bluffs that come Friday, the Chancellor will have his plates. Overcome, the watery old buffoon urges the Detective to succeed, before news of the theft leaks out and causes widespread panic. Soothingly, Holmes states The Empire needs all of us to remain calm. Closing the door, he explodes at Watson. Is he out of his bloody mind?.

Doctor Watson tells Holmes he'll need his coat; he's (Holmes) made some excellent discoveries this morning. The Royal Mint purchased its paper from the Camden paper mill. Miss Giles bustles out to ask if the visitors concerned her Father. Is there any news?. Sadly, no, replies Watson, adding that Holmes had an idea last night and they are off to continue the investigation. Turning down Lesley's offer to accompany them, the two leave by cab. 

Sadly, she watches them depart. As the hansom conducts them from Baker Street, the Doctor emits a short laugh as he reads the reply to a telegram he sent last night. The joke? - all in due time. Wiggins, the irrepressible head of the Irregulars is waiting and flags them down. The Doctor's theory was right!; 'they' were sitting there, just waiting for customs. Wiggins jumps in and they make for Southwark Docks (Presumably Surrey Docks). 
Matthew Savage appears as Wiggins. These days, he's the keyboard player for The Levellers.
The Docks are a hive of activity, cargo being busily loaded and unloaded, sailors climbing the rigging of the tall ships in the background, Wiggins stealing Holmes' watch. The urchin shows our heroes to a pile of crates, filled with imported shoes stamped 'Made in Italy'. Alongside, the Kaskelot, in this morning from Germany, two days late. Watson is delighted with his protege and throws him a weighty coin, receiving a jaunty salute in return. Wiggins then departs, presumably to buy some gin. Watson invites Holmes to picture it; Moriarty's henchmen, waiting under cover of night for the ship to dock. The ship is delayed and being men of no moral fibre, they help themselves to a new pair of shoes. Holmes wonders if they have them in brown.

The Surr-Southwark Docks, Night. (The joke falls flat as they filmed this in Gloucester anyway.) A small launch approaches and Watson is ready. Holmes is trying out his new shoes when the Doctor thrusts him back into the cover of the crates, cautioning silence. Two ruffians alight, followed by Professor Moriarty.

As the concealed pair look on, the henchmen break open a crate containing cuckoo clocks. Inside is a small barrel marked 'TINTE'. Watson explains this is German for 'INK', Morairty already has the paper he needs, taken from the paper mill, burned to the ground as cover for the theft. The John Clay case was a mere diversion, staged to throw Watson off the scent. Just then, a night watchman spots the illicit acticity and is held fast by Moran and his accomplice. Moran's apology does not diminish the Professor's ire, the latter stepping forward elegantly in topper and cane to light a panatella. 

Moriarty - Sorry indeed.
I went to all this trouble
for the sake of discretion...
..and then you allow this to happen.
(Moran produces a knife and slits the watchman's throat.)

Watson prepares his revolver, Holmes fumbles for his as Moriarty tips the unfortunate watchman into the water with his cane. Generously, Watson gives Holmes some bullets for his pistol, urging him to try not to shoot himself – at least, not until he gives the signal. Holmes appears petrified and as Watson sneaks forward manages to drop the cartridges with a clatter. Moriarty and Moran spot the hunched figure behind the crates and the Professor signals the boatman to cast off, Moran to kill the interloper. As the killer raises his knife to throw it, Watson spots the danger and shouts 'Holmes!' at which, Holmes stands up presenting a perfect target for the blade!. Moran misses by a whisker, Holmes panics and pulls his trigger, the round blasting into the precious ink, some of which spurts up to blind the knifeman. 

Watson opens his account with a few well-aimed shots at Moriarty, who returns the favour with his own revolver. Using the ship as cover, the Professor is in Holmes' line of sight and he aims carefully. 'Die Moriarty.' The words come through clenched teeth as he pulls the trigger – misses hopelessly, hitting the ships bell, the shot ricochets to sever a rope above Holmes' head, depositing a heavy net onto him, trapping him. Moriarty shoots and nearly kills him, before making a break for it in his launch along the canal.

Watson enters the water and swims out to the launch as a freed Holmes wonders where he is. Hanging on to a fender line, Watson is carried alongside the unsuspecting crooks, until Holmes stupidly alerts Moriarty by calling across asking what he's up to. Releasing the line, Watson swims clear, but Moriarty's pistol speaks four times in quick succession. Thrashing around in apparent agony, Doctor John Watson sinks below the surface. Divesting himself of outer garments, Holmes jumps in, but of his friend and creator, there is no trace.

The sun is climbing over the yard-arm as a sergeant of police comes to inform Holmes there has been no sign of a body. Blanketed, Holmes sits by a brazier bedraggled and forlorn. Wordlessly, he rises, the crowd of onlookers parting respectfully as he stands, his thoughts his own.

The door of 221b opens and a weary Sherlock Holmes trudges the stairs. Hearing his tread, Lesley and Mrs.Hudson hurry out to be told the terrible news. Lesley's effort to console the distraught Landlady with the thought Holmes is still alive backfires, but then a loud thump and a shower of dust from the ceiling sends them rushing upstairs. Holmes is on the floor, a noose around his neck.

Over-estimating the rope he would need to end his life the latest thing he's botched. Miss Giles protests Holmes can avenge Watson's death by catching Moriarty and rescuing her father. Holmes goes to leave, Miss Giles following him.

Holmes - Oh, what a good idea! While I'm at it,
I'll bring in the Loch Ness Monster.
Lesley - Please, Mr. Holmes. I don't understand.
Holmes - I am not a detective. I never solved anything.
- Dr Watson did.
Lesley - Oh, nonsense. You're just upset.
Holmes - I couldn't detect horse manure if I stepped in it.

The bar at the Criterion. Propping the bar, Holmes is the only customer. Henry, the barman asks if he wants another whisky. Perhaps not – Holmes' grief has exceeded his resources. Henry pours the drink anyway. On the House. Lord Smithwick and Lestrade appear, Mrs. Hudson having tipped them off. Offering condolences, Smithwick trusts Watson's death will have no bearing on the outcome of the case, which he promised to solve by Friday. Holmes is at the point of confession when Lestrade cuts in with his view that Watson made that promise, not in full possession of the facts. He adds Her Majesty should rely on trained criminologists such as himself. Though well-meant, the doctor was no detective. Unsurprisingly, this irks Holmes, who slips into 'official Holmes' stance to re-inforce his original promise to The Chancellor; the plates will be in his hands come Friday.

Enervated by the challenge, Holmes charges up the familiar stairs to his lodgings and calls down to Mrs. Hudson; the game's afoot. As he sets up blackboard on easel, Lesley and Mrs.Hudson watch. Watson always said; start by listing what you know. Chalking the number '1' he writes 'Moriarty'. Lesley is stricken by his genius; Isn't he wonderful?. Number '2' is where is comes off the rails and, sensing a long wait, Mrs. Hudson goes to make tea.

A half-printed Bank of England Five Pound note floats in the river at Camden Lock. Who should happen by but Wiggins?. Spotting the significance of the odd note, he rushes to Baker Street.

Baker Street at night. Holmes is still stuck on '2', so erases it and goes back to '1'. Perhaps the clue is in Moriarty's name. Both ladies are asleep by this point. Waking them with a shout, Holmes declares he has got it!; his real name is Arty Morty. Wiggins bursts in – was the door unlocked? - and declares he has found a five pound note. Holmes replies; 'Lucky you.' to be told it's only half-printed. As Holmes shuts his door, his answer to that is 'I suppose it's only worth £2 10s, then.' The penny – or note – drops and the note comes under scrutiny. 

The normal Fiver carries a six digit serial number, this one has but three; 234. Rounding on Miss Giles, Holmes, Hudson and Wiggins demand to know the significance. A measurement? Address? Amount? Page Number?. Did Mr. Giles have a favourite book? - Holmes knows the answer there, and hurries to fetch the Bible he has at his bedside. Rather, beneath his bedside as he's using it to level the bed out.

Mrs. Hudson asks Lesley if her Father had a favourite book of the Bible – she doesn't recall, but Holmes does. Opening the Book of Psalms, he reads from the twenty-third Psalm, verse four. 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.' Does it mean anything? - it does to Holmes!. Going to his mirror, he turns it to reveal the poster on the reverse. The Shadow of Death was the last play staged at The Orpheum theatre, closing after one night. A gripping drama, the review in the Telegram praised the performance of Reginald Kincaid for providing some welcome laughter. In a drama?. Never mind... Dressing hurriedly, Holmes notes the Fleet river runs under that part of town, below the Orpheum. Bundling Mrs.Hudson into a cab, Holmes tells Wiggins to inform Scotland Yard. Helpfully, lesley offers to do this – she will be listened to (more than a street urchin.) Agreeing, Holmes and Wiggins climb onto the back. To the theatre!.

The abandoned theatre sits unlit, unloved. A poster for The Shadow of Death still graces the front, with a hand-written critique reading THIS STINKS. Creeping along, the singular trio duck as a carriage approaches. Sebastian Moran and Professor Moriarty step down, the professor generously paying the Cabbie with a five pound note. The driver cannot believe his luck, but think nothing of it, says Moriarty – he prints his own. The cabman dies laughing as Moran's blade finds his jugular. Moran retrieves his Master's note and the latter sends the cab off by tapping the reins with his cane. Unaware of the three loiterers a few feet away, Moriarty and his henchman enter the Orpheum as Big Ben sounds his chimes. Going through the hole knocked in a wall in the basement, the Professor tells Moran they will move the barge out at high tide. Outside, Holmes orders Wiggins back round to the front to keep an eye out for the police when they arrive. Any bets when that might be?.

Mrs. Hudson is rather startled to find Holmes intends them both to climb a metal ladder, but she follows him through an opened skylight, climbing down to rest on his shoulders. Which is where it goes awry; Holmes, beneath her skirts is blinded and staggers around, into a fire bucket, which he sends clattering down the stairs with a terrible racket. Inevitably, Moran hears this and goes to investigate. Searching backstage, he looks around, but sees nothing. Had he looked upwards, at the rafters he would have spotted Holmes and Hudson perched there. A twist of the switch and the stage-lights flare into life, Moran stepping out onto the stage to peer into the auditorium. Mrs. Hudson leans forward to see better and accidentally overbalances, sending herself and Holmes toppling from the catwalk, Holmes desperately grabbing at a rope. With the landlady clinging on for dear life, he swings the full length of the stage, Moran turning to see nothing out of place. He leaves and Holmes switches to another rope, which raises a piece of scenery as the pair drop gently to the ground. 

In the tunnel below, Moran informs the Professor the noise was probably rats. Above, the odd couple listen as noises carry up to them through the boards. Holmes goes to centre-stage while, umbrella under her arm she goes over to the wings and a large lever hung with a sign ; DANGER – DO NOT TOUCH. Of course, it is a trap door and inevitably she trips the lever with her brolly.

Down goes Sherlock – straight into a drum-kit, cymbals and all. Mrs. Hudson's apologises, but Holmes assures her they are making good progress. He urges her to be quiet – and knocks over a cymbal, promptly getting his foot caught in another. Freeing his foot, he blunders into some hanging cowbells. So long as Moriarty and friends have suddenly gone stone-deaf, all should be well. Holmes finally spots the hole in the wall and tells the landlady of his find. Outside, the usually-plucky Wiggins however, has run out of nerve and runs off. Through the wall goes Holmes, to see what he can see.

Striding in, Moriarty and Moran enter a gas-lit chamber where a printing press is stamping out note after note, tended, of course by the captive Peter Giles. Turning off the press, the Professor states his satisfaction with Giles; the Queen herself couldn't tell the difference. However – he unfolds a damp note – this one appears only half printed. Found on the bank of the river. 

A reject, Giles assures his captor, nervously. Discarded to be carried out on the tide. Suppose we examine this 'reject'? Asks the Professor; oh yes, 234... clever. Holmes opens a hatch to look down on the makeshift Mint as Moriarty expresses his view it is a shame the only person capable of deducing the clue is lying at the bottom of the Thames. Who should walk in, then, but Lesley Giles?. Moriarty is irritated at her arrival; he told her to keep an eye on 'that imbecile' – he may yet stumble onto something. 'Oh he has.' states Lesley. They know all about this place, luckily Holmes sent her to fetch Scotland Yard.

Hearing all this, Sherlock Holmes decided he needs a plan of attack. Selecting an oil lantern, he then rejects it. The Professor orders his underlings to begin packing and as Moran grabs the hapless Mr. Giles, knife at his throat Moriarty informs him despite his 'foolishness' he has done a good job and earned a quick death.

Watson - Not so fast Moriarty
Moriarty - Watson.
Watson - I've been waiting hours for your arrival...

Yes, Watson!; the Doctor – quite alive – steps out from behind some crates, levelling his revolver. Lesley rushes forward, her 'Thank God, you're here.' falling on deaf ears. Watson praises his adversary for planting this spy in his camp – a cable to France revealed a rather unique fact about the real Lesley Giles, somewhat of an embarrassment to the Giles family he would consider. Hanging down from the hatchway, Holmes waves to get his old friend's attention, giving 'Lesley' and a henchman the opportunity to disarm and overpower the Doctor. The Professor then asks if Watson would like to meet the real Leslie Giles. (Yes, Les- with a 'lie', not a 'ley'.) A brutish henchman then leads in a blindfolded woman. Forcing Leslie to her knees, Moriarty draws his revolver and, as he won't see the Empire forced to her knees, offers Watson the chance to see his captives murdered instead.

At the last possible instant, Holmes charges, trips on the discarded lantern he placed by the hatch and hurtles down onto the barge with a heavy thump, sending forged fivers flying. Clutching the now-broken lantern in one hand, he strikes a match. If anybody moves, there'll be a roasting. Unimpressed, the Napoleon of Crime strolls forward. Has it occurred to Holmes that if he sets fire to the money, he will burn to death?. 

Erm... of course it has!. Burning his fingers with the match, the butter-fingered buffoon drops it, the money erupting into flame. Frantically, Moriarty orders the flames be extinguished – and watson takes advantage of the confusion to deliver a well-placed elbow and a right cross to the goon holding him. Holmes swings free of the conflagration, Moriarty's shot coming close. Watson fires, hitting a large vat of solvent next to some jugs of kerosene, sending the inflammable liquid jetting out in a stream. 

Joining Watson and Mr. Giles Holmes informs the Doctor he had thought him dead. He may well be right. A burning note then ignites the pooled solvent. Humming Rock of Ages and quite unaware of the impending firestorm, Mrs. Hudson brings a theatrical throne over to sit by the open trap-door. The fire is out of control, Moriarty's goons making a run for it to his disgust. Moran hurries up to warn his employer of the danger; the gas mains are heating up, a (rather convenient) pressure gauge rising already. Moriarty runs to get the printing plates and 'Lesley' takes over, shooting at watson and co. to keep them pinned. Holmes releases the real Leslie from 'her' bonds, the blindfold slipping off with his wig. Leslie Giles is, of course, a transvestite.

Leslie Giles is portrayed by Matthew Sim.
A well-aimed shot by Watson, then, which causes the Professor to drop the case containing the precious plates. Although Watson has him cold, he makes a run for it. Finding herself abandoned, the false Lesley is not impressed, hurrying after the fleeing felons. Holmes asks Watson why he didn't shoot Moriarty, with a smile the Doctor pulls the trigger, revealing his revolver empty of bullets.

To her surprise, Mrs. Hudson watches as a ladder is put against the trap-door for a bunch of villainous ruffians to make their escape, not one of them noticing the rather plump Scottish lady sat incongruously in the throne behind them. Deciding her umbrella decidedly lacking in menace, she goes over to a rack containing swords and selects one as, outside, two Police carriages arrive. The defecting goons are swiftly rounded up, with liberal use of truncheons. Next to emerge from the stage is Moran, who pronounces it to be safe. With a mighty swing, the landlady discovers stage sabres are blunt as she tries, fails to cut a rope holding a sandbag aloft. She starts sawing, as Moriarty and Moran make their exit. Annoyed at her co-conspirators' lack of decorum to a lady, the bogus Lesley is then felled by the falling bag. Appalled, Mrs. Hudson goes to her aid – not yet realising her duplicity.

Wiggins watches the stooges being rounded up for the marias, when he suddenly spots Moriarty and Moran. The Irregular's cry of 'There he is!' alerts the constables and, treacherously, the Professor ducks back inside, telling his subordinate to hold them off as he seals the door from within. Dazed 'Lesley' comes partially to in the arms of Mrs. Hudson, who then drops her with a thud as she spots Doctor Watson, whom she had, of course, believed dead.

Watson - It became necessary for me to stage my death,
so I might work unobserved for a few days.
Holmes - And I must say, you've caused quite a bit of grief.
You needn't bother with her. (Points at the imposter.)
She's an imposter.
Mrs. Hudson - She's not Lesley Giles? Then who is?
Leslie Giles - (Seated on edge of trap-door.) I am.
In shock, Mrs. Hudson drops the imposter (Falls back down with a thump.)

The villainous Moriarty enters the auditorium, observing the assemblage is blocking his exit. He asks them to kindly step aside, pulling at the pommel of his cane to reveal a concealed sword.

Nobly, Holmes instructs Watson to 'Remove these people from the stage.' He prepares himself for combat as, outside Lestrade pulls impotently at the barred door. On stage, Moriarty informs Holmes ordinarily, he doesn't bother with buffoons and half-wits. 'Buffoons, is it?' rejoinders Holmes, drawing his landlady's brolly from the rack and opening it. Ignoring this mishap, he selects a rapier and battle is commenced. Mrs. Hudson fears for her tenant's life, but Watson bolsters her spirits; Holmes is, after all in his element now. The two take seats for the performance. 

Holmes is, indeed, a veteran of many stage fights, managing to swipe his opponent's hat from his head to the applause of his audience. As Holmes taunts Moriarty with details of his reviews as a stage-blade, he gets a vicious kick to the groin, sending him over a table. Meanwhile, with Moran in custody Lestrade has finally made a decision; knock the door down. 

Standing on the table, Holmes continues the duel, slicing and hacking at the Professor, jumping onto the end, though, over-balances the table and sends him sliding to the boards, losing his sword. In a mannish voice, Leslie Giles remarks 'He really is quite good.' His father, seated beside him, is not amused. The constables break through and Lestrade leads them into the theatre. Regaining his sword, Holmes is hidden behind a scenery painting of a circus lady with lions, dropped by a slash of Moriarty's razor-sharp swordstick. Amusingly, he thrusts his arm through at just the right spot to give the amusing illusion of a circus-woman brandishing a sword. 

The inept Lestrade and his officers are stopped in their tracks by the counterfeit Lesley, who holds them at gunpoint. She tells the cowering constables she has killed before, with no compunction about doing so again. Of course, another swipe and she's knocked out again by a sandbag. Seeing his escape routes dwindling, Moriarty drops down the still-open trap-door. Unwisely, Holmes then follows. The audience emerges from their hiding places and Lestrade makes the astounding observation that Watson is alive. The Doctor races after his friend and nemesis and Leslie Giles, wig replaces, pops up and gives Lestrade a feminine 'Oh, hello.' 

The duel continue in the tunnel below, Holmes receiving a hanging chain to the teeth, which allows his opponent to dart into the makeshift print room. The flames rise and the pressure gauge hits the red. Watson gets ahold of his friend and manages to restrain him. His blood up, Holmes cries he's about to bring the World's greatest criminal to justice – and nothing will stop him. Has he forgotten the gas mains?. Howling in terror, the two dash back down the tunnel. Clambering into a small rowing boat, Moriarty looks up to see the dial heading further into the red as the pipe buckles under the pressure and heat. With a howl of terror, Moriarty is overtaken by the fireball which erupts from the mouth of the archway to the river.

The fire brigade pumps water onto the burning shell of the Orpheum, as a delighted Chancellor pumps Holmes hand. Her Majesty is delighted at a job well done. Peter Giles doubted anyone would understand the clue he sent; both Holmes and Watson assumed it meant the 23rd psalm, but in fact the Theatre stands – stood at 234 Beacon street. Lord Smithwick finds this all... amazing!.

Amazing! Peter Giles (Right) is played by John Warner.

Lestrade is blatantly chatting 'Miss Giles' up and as Holmes and Watson join them he elucidates that, had it not been for the timely arival of Scotland Yard, things might not have turned out as they did. Of course, he would never expect Holmes to admit as such. Exchanging glances, the pair attribute the success of the case entirely to Lestrade. It is to him, adds Holmes that Miss Giles owes her deepest gratitude. Impishly, Watson can't resist adding Miss Giles is on the stage in Paris, in a revue going by the name Les Femmes Faux. Lestrade is thoroughly bewitched, an actress!. 'Theres more surprises yet to come.' adds Leslie, saucily. Surprises indeed...

The assembled press are waiting outside 221b Baker Street the next morning as the carriage conveying Holmes, Watson, Hudson and Wiggins rolls up, a large painting tied to the back of the landau.

Is it true, they ask that Moriarty is dead?. Never assume, gentlemen, is the reply. Holmes goes into his routine as Watson is pushed to the rear of the throng.

Reporter - Mr. Holmes, how did you know
where Moriarty was hiding out?
Holmes - It was an elementary deduction
based on the clues at hand, I can assure you.
Reporter - But how is it that Scotland Yard did not...?
Holmes – Perhaps... perhaps Scotland Yard
did not have the invaluable assistance, the keen insight
and the extraordinary patience of Dr John Watson.
My friend.

Visibly touched by this tribute, Doctor Watson stands, smiling modestly as the crowd applauds him. Holmes then announces his retirement. With the safe return of the plates to the Royal Mint, this is his last case. Sherlock holmes is retiring. The reporters and crowd are appalled, shocked by this momentous news, but Watson strides forward and states Holmes was pulling their leg.

Watson - Sherlock Holmes retire when there is
murder and mayhem at every turn?
Already several adventures have begun to take
shape which can be solved by no-one else.
Right, Holmes?
Holmes - Right you are, Watson.
And so, without further ado...
..I hereby declare this case...

The image of Holmes and Watson smiling at each other freezes into a hand-tinted photograph and the credits roll...
The Poster
So, then, what are we to make of it?. Pastiche?, spoof?, certainly, but the central twist holds up well enough. Watson the brains with a bumbling actor playing Holmes shouldn't really work over 144 minutes, but it does. The film is packed with gags, although by twenty minutes in you can see most of them coming they still amuse and the plot is decent. Michael Caine is an obvious choice for such a humorous role, which he plays with understated gusto and plausibility. 

Ben Kingsley's Watson, a less clear pick, nevertheless delivers a delightfully indignant mastermind, the straight man to Caine's joker in a tightly-wound and energetic performance.Paul Freeman's Moriarty is particularly enjoyable, the right amount of menace and boo!-hiss! Melodrama.

The supporting cast are all solid, Matthew Savage gives Wiggins a likeable artful-dodger-esque character, Lysette Anthony is good as the decoy Lesley. Anthony was to play Mary Kelly in the same year in another Michael Caine film, Jack the Ripper. George Sweeney, who plays burglar John Clay appears in the Ripper film as a coachman.

The Soundtrack Album.
Filmed on location in the Lake District, Blenheim Palace, Gloucestershire, London and at Shepperton and Pinewood studios, the film also features Syon House, Brentford and Corn Street, Bristol doubles as the front of the Orpheum Theatre. The Hackney Empire does service as the interior. Moriarty's waterfront hideout is at Camden Lock, the exact same entrance was used for 2015's SPECTRE, as 'Q's new workshop. There are goofs; but not many. The lantern Holmes selects and leaves by the hatch jumps back onto the wall before he manages to trip over it and there are WWII – style metal enamelled mugs on the table at Moriarty's HQ. Holmes refers to the Loch Ness Monster some years before the phenomenon was in the public domain and the postcard of the Eiffel tower was of a type not yet introduced. Overall, the film stands up well on the blooper front.

An Audio-book was also released.
All of which brings us to the now-mandatory award. How many church-warden pipes will Without a Clue be given?.

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