Producer-director Fraser Heston has adapted Paul Giovanni’s Broadway play about Sherlock Holmes as a vehicle for his father, Charlton Heston. This is a well-intentioned mistake: The elder Heston’s stalwart stiffness and measured speech work against the lightning- fast deductions that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great fictional detective is so famous for making.
Giovanni’s play was a tribute to Conan Doyle’s work, not an adaptation of a particular Holmes story, and much of the dialogue here sounds forced, more like a Holmes parody. ”Mr. Holmes, you take my breath away!” says The Crucifer of Blood’s obligatory damsel-in-distress (Susannah Harker) after Holmes delivers some brilliant conjecture. Before Holmes can respond, a huffy Dr. Watson (Richard Johnson) blurts, ”It’s elementary, my dear!” The whole TV movie is corny like that; fans of this hero would do better to wait for Mystery!’s new batch of Holmes adventures starring the entrancingly chilly Jeremy Brett. C-