Best Sherlock Holmes movie ever? 1988's 'Without a Clue'
Did you know that Sherlock Holmes is the most-filmed character in the history of movies? By several accounts, the famous detective has been played by 75 actors in 211 films. But with all due respect to Robert Downey Jr.'s latest portrayal, there's only been one Sherlock for me:
Michael Caine in 1988's Without a Clue, co-starring Ben Kingsley as Dr. Watson and Paul Freeman as Professor Moriarty. In this version, the real mastermind is Dr. Watson who creates a fictional Sherlock Holmes so he can solve crimes incognito.
The movie is full of clever little lines intended for only hardcore Sherlock fans to understand. And the backplot -- Watson trying to fire Sherlock when he gets tired of him hogging all the attention -- mirrors the frustration author Arthur Conan Doyle had when he unsuccessfully tried to retire his most famous literary creation.
Critics were generally unimpressed, especially Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times, who wrote: "It is disheartening to sit in a movie and know at the 15-minute mark what must be done, and watch the filmmakers take another 90 minutes to do it exactly as it has always been done before."
Still, when your life revolves around the years 1980 to 1989, it's easy to look past the flaws and enjoy this romp for what it really was: Elementary entertainment.
TOP 5 LINES FROM 'WITHOUT A CLUE':
5. "I've got it! His real name is Arty-Morti!"
4. "Try not to shoot yourself - at least, not until I give the signal."
3 ."Ye can't go walkin' into someone's residence, pokin' about their personal possessions, disruptin' their privacy... That's for Scotland Yard."
2. "I warn you, sir, I've killed as many as six men in a week. Eight if you count matinees."
1. "Holmes, sweet Holmes!"