This is an up-front statement: Does anyone else rue the day that Sir Arthur gave Sherlock a drug habit?! I sure do. What was almost an aside in the canon becomes a major part in film lore and is grossly overplayed. Ian Hart plays Watson in two made for TV movies: Hound of the Baskervilles and The Case of the Silk Stocking. Sherlock is well played in both films; in the first by Richard Roxburgh and in the second by Rupert Everett. Both these films were made by the same production units and both completely overdo the drug connection. (That always sets me off!) Other than that the only complaints I have are that the Hound is an obvious computer generation and that fedoras weren’t a part of men’s apparel until about 1914. (Having been made popular for women’s wear by Sarah Bernhardt in 1889 when she wore one in theplay “Fedora”.)
But to get back to our main character- Watson. Both movies play Watson well. Accordin to
Roxburgh “In Conan Doyle, he’s a doctor of medicine. He’s a very intelligent Man. He’s hanging off Holmes’ coat-tails sometimes, but not a fool.” That is exactly how Hart plays Watson, he is all those thing, and in addition, long suffering! I found it interesting also that the discussion of the left behind cane and the terrier are omitted from the hound and the ending is significantly different. Though, come to think of it, I know of no version that is 100% true to the story.
The Case of the Silk Stocking has Watson again taking a wife, this time an American who is involved in the study of psychiatry (I would have thought they would call her an alienist). As a “new” story it does quite well and Sherlock is shown to good advantage as is Watson. Some havesaid that Hart does a rather dull portrayal in Hound. I believe his portrayal is
quite good. Here is a man dealing with the unknown and given charge of protecting a stranger in a strange land. Would it be any wonder that he would hold his cards close and be the receptor of information rather than the dispenser of glad tidings and jovial good will? I believe Hart places Watson exactly where he needs to be in context of the situation.
Either Hound or The Case of the Silk Stocking is well worth the watching. Hound is the better of the two, but Watson is exceptional in both. I hope to see Hart play Watson again.
Ian Hart was born Ian Davies on 8 October 1964 in Liverpool, England. He is one of three siblings in a Roman Catholic family. He studied at the Cardinal Allen Grammar School and
was a member of the Everyman Youth Theatre. He studied drama at the Mabel Fletcher College of Music and Drama in Liverpool and studied video production at South Mersey College. By 1982 Hart was on the stage and in 1991 made his first appearance on film as John Lennon. He would reprise the role in 1994 and win the Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Hart has won three other major awards: Best Actor from the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival and Best Supporting Performer from the Venice Film Festival.
Hart has in excess of 45 film or TV shows to his credit and stays very active in the theater. He is married and he and his wife Lynne have two daughters and live in Crouch End, North London.