The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - The Naval Treaty
Michael Cox for Granada Television/ITV
directed by Alan Grint
starring Jeremy Brett, David Burke, David Gwillim, Gareth Thomas, Alison Skilbeck, Ronald Russell, Nicholas Geake, Pamela Pitchford, John Malcolm, David Rodigan, Eve Matheson, Rosalie Williams, John Taylor
screenplay by Jeremy Paul, based on the story by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Patrick Gowers
Sherlock Holmes, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett)
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Percy Phelps (David Gwillim), high-ranking employee of the foreign
office, is panicking: He has lost a top secret treaty when he left
his office for only a few moments, a treaty that could cause an
international scandal or worse if it fell into the hands of the French of
the Russians. In fact he is panicking to such a degree that it has
affected his health and he has gone to the country house of his fiancée
Annie (Alison Skilbeck) and her brother Joseph Harrison (Gareth Thomas)
for recovery. In his panic, Phelps also eventually calls his friend Doctor
Watson (David Burke) to get him in touch with Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy
Brett) for consultation.
Holmes is quick to point out two things concerning the case everybody
seems to have missed: 1) The thief, while stealing the treaty, has for
some reason rung for the caretaker, which at least is mighty odd, and 2),
while the treaty has been stolen quite a few weeks ago, neither the French
or the Russians seem to be in its possession yet, which means the treaty
is probably still in the country. The someone breaks into the room of
Phelps' sickbed, which he hadn't left for weeks - which at least seems
So Holmes persuades Phelps to accompany Watson back to
London, then goes on an all-night surveillance job outside Phelps' room at
his fiancée's country estate - and indeed, at 2 in the morning, someone
breaks in and tears apart the bed that has been Phelps's sickbed ... in
which he finds the treaty. Holmes chases the thief away of course, but not
without taking the treaty from him first, and the baddie was - none other
than Joseph Harrison, Phelps's brother-in-law to be.
Harrison has lost a fortune at the stock exchange and was in dire straits.
Then, when he went to pick up Phelps from the foreign office one day and
found his office empty, he rang for the caretaker and only then saw the
secret documents on Phelps's desk, documents that could have made him a
fortune. So he took off with them and hid them in his sofa in the country
estate, the very sofa that due to a stupid coincidence has later become
Phelps's sickbed. Now the only way to get to the treaty was like a thief
in the night, breaking into his own house ...
In a way a fun
episode: It might be directe in an old-fashioned way, but Jeremy Brett's
intensity as Sherlock Holmes carries the whole thing rather beautifully.
However, somehow the whole case and its solution do not ring quite true,
do feature some minor plotholes. And then there's the fight between Holmes
and Harrison, a fight that's represented by shadows on the wall, doing
their best to move in slow motion. Now this looks bizarre in an artsy form
of way, but simply does not work as the climax of a detective story.