Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Napoleons of Crime

With the release of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (the sequel to his hugely successful and surprisingly enjoyable 2009 film) only weeks away, I thought I would take a second and look back at some of the actors who have portrayed Holmes' brilliant archenemy Professor James Moriarty over the past century. Although Moriarty only appeared in one of Doyle's stories ("The Final Problem"), somehow he managed to capture the imagination of audiences. Perhaps because he seems to be the only character who, aside from Sherlock's elder brother Mycroft (who is also appearing in the new film), is Holmes' intellectual equal. Holmes referred to him as the "Napoleon of crime" and "the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city... a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order." Moriarty was clearly someone whose mind Holmes greatly admired, even while despising his moral character. Every prominent hero needs a mortal enemy and Moriarty fulfills that role admirably. He is the Joker to Holmes' Batman, The Luthor to his Superman, the Blofeld to his Bond. While Moriarty's screen career is perhaps not as eminent as that of Holmes, it is nonetheless impressive. In fact, a few of the actors who played one role would later end up playing the other (particularly Richard Roxburgh and Anthony Higgins). Naturally this list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a helpful introduction to a character who can be regarded I think as one of the great villains of fiction.

Gustav von Seyffertitz, Sherlock Holmes (1922)

Ernest Torrence, Sherlock Holmes (1932)

Lyn Harding, The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935)

George Zucco, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

Lionel Atwill, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)

Henry Daniell, The Woman in Green (1945)

Laurence Olivier, The Seven Per-Cent Solution (1976)

John Huston, Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)

Viktor Yevgrafov, Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona, a.k.a. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1980)

Eric Porter, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1985)

Anthony Higgins, Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

Paul Freeman, Without a Clue (1988)

Daniel Davis, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993)

Vincent D'Onofrio, Sherlock: A Case of Evil (2002)

Richard Roxburgh, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)

Andrew Scott, Sherlock (2010)

Jared Harris, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

1 comment:

  1. I think Viktor Yevgrafov and Andrew Scott played villains very good!