Do non-canonical Holmes films get remade?

As we all know, there have been many, many Sherlock Holmes films. Sherlock Holmes is the most filmed character there is (a battle that rages between him and Dracula). Yet do the films ever get re-made?

Sure, films based on the canonical stories are constantly getting remade. There are endless versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles for example. But what about the non-canonical films?

How about remaking the Rathbone films or a new version of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes or a new film version of The Seven Percent Solution. Of course copyright has a lot to do with why these films have not been remade but, given that every other film going seems to get rebooted (Spider-man, Superman etc) why not one of these?

Do you have any Sherlock Holmes film favourites that you'd like to see remade? If so, who would you like to see cast?

Written by Alistair Duncan
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  1. That's a tough question. You could make the argument that some Sherlock Holmes films *have* been remade, though changed dramatically. For instance, "The Woman in Green" seems to be a major inspiration for the abysmal TV film "Hands of a Murderer" from 1991. What's more "A Scandal in Belgravia" is a spiritual homage to "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes."

    But to be honest, I would not want to see these films remade. "Private Life" and "The Seven-Per-Cent Solution" are some of the finest Sherlock Holmes films ever made and I hazard that any attempt to remake them would yield results which would be pretty disappointing and could not hold a candle to the originals.

    1. I quite liked Hands of a Murderer and, to the best of my knowledge, it was one of the first screen outings for a younger Moriarty. Anthony Andrew served the role rather well. The film was awful in many areas but I still find it very watchable.

  2. In a way, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was remade in BBC Sherlock as "A Scandal in Belgravia". Similary, the second Basil Rathbone movie The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes heavily inspired "The Reichenbach Fall".

    I personally would love to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Jude Law together as Holmes and Watson. That would be dream casting in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation/remake as far I am concerned.


  3. That is a very interesting question that implies there is a non-Canonical film that is Canonical enough in its own way to get a non-Sherlockian audience out to the cinema to see a "Sherlock Holmes movie". I'm not really sure there is such a film like that out there that would qualify. "The Seven Percent Solution" would have a leg up because it is from a preexisting best-selling book. "The Private Life" is the personal vision of an auteur director and Sherlockian which would make it unsuitable for a studio finance unless they also had such a visionary filmmaker at the helm. A film like "A Study in Terror" might be worthwhile but why do a remake when you can do your own version of Holmes vs. the Ripper, e.g. "Murder by Decree". Also, why do a remake of a Rathbone or Wontner Canonical mash-up when you can hire a scriptwriter to do an original mash-up. I believe I have read somewhere talk of "Young Sherlock Holmes" being remade with the idea of it being the start of a film series (by Disney?). This would be an attempt to cash in on Holmes' popularity.

    For remake I would nominate "Sherlock Holmes in New York", a very bad TV movie that I have a fondness for. Roger Moore, Patrick Macnee and John Houston play their roles as if in a comedy, but the rest of the cast act as if they were in a drama leaving a very uneven tone to the movie. It could have been a camp classic if the direction by Boris Sagal was consistent. It could be remade as a comedy or a drama. The comedy aspect is obvious; the opening scene with Holmes and Moriarty in the Professor's lair would work in a comedy remake without changing a word of the script. However, that scene also contains elements of a drama remake with Houston's hint of an Celtic brogue and dialogue of Holmes' British upper class entitlement; a perhaps unique look at the rivalry between the two, Irish working-class vs.English nobility.

  4. I think there's something classic about the Holmes films as they were. Personally, I wouldn't want Hollywood to get ahold of Private Life, because in a remake, they'd just sensationalize it and kill what makes it a Holmes story. (No, I do not like the RDJ movies.)

    Also, a major part of why superhero movies, as you mentioned, are coming out now is because, at least in the case of Superman, if they didn't make movies, the copyright of the character would revert back to the families of the original creators, and then DC wouldn't be able to capitalize on the character anymore. (My dad's worked in comics since the '70's, so I hear about these different things, whether I want to or not.)