10 April 2012 | oldblackandwhite
Great Fun, But Assisted Living Is Afoot For Holmes And Watson
Crucifer Of Blood is an entertaining pairing of two fine but sadly aged actors, Charlton Heston and Richard Johnson, as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Both in their sixties at the time, they were far too old to be cast as the umpteenth incarnations of the energetic super-sleuth and his intrepid assistant. Nevertheless both bring the roles to life better than any younger actors of the time likely could have.
This high production values British picture, a loose adaptation of Conan Doyle's Sign Of The Four, is rather tongue-in-cheek in tone anyway. It's as florid and melodramatic as a silent movie with all the de rigueur Holmes artifacts ostentatiously displayed -- the deerstalker cap, the Victorian bulldog revolvers, the magnifying glass, the hansom cabs, and the great, billowing clouds of artificial fog. It's all jolly good fun if you're in the right mood and are not a picky Holmes purist. After a while, you don't mind that even the heavy ulster coat can't disguise Heston's curvature of the spine. Or that Johnson shows such frightful wrinkles in his closeup love scenes, it makes the object of his affections, 26-year old Susannah Harker, look like jail bait.
Yours truly is admittedly not much a fan of the Sherlock Holmes movies or literature, but my picky, old wife is. And she liked this one about as well as any. Crucifer Of Blood is expertly directed by Charleton's son, Fraser C. Heston, who also wrote and produced. A fast-paced, atmospherically filmed, spirited, witty, inventive, and enjoyable picture from beginning to end.