The Devil's Foot (TV episode 1988)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Devil's Foot

The Devil's Foot (episode No. 22) is the 1st episode of season 4 of the Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Return of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 6 april 1988. 51 min.

The episode is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Adventure of the Devil's Foot (1910).

Through economy and ingenuity, Michael Cox and his collaborators had managed to keep the series' budget in balance. The costs of shooting Silver Blaze and The Devil's Foot emptied the boxes, making it impossible to produce the two episodes that were to close the season.

The Adventure of the Devil's Foot bewitches with its strange and frightening atmosphere. The terrifying fate of the victims, attributed to the devil by the naive Reverend Rounday, will find a natural explanation, but the wild scenery of Cornwall, haunted by the ghosts of the disappeared peoples and the shadow of mysterious Africa, maintains a worrying climate. Arthur Conan Doyle wonderfully suggested the horror of the hallucinations caused by the Devil's Foot, but Gary Hopkins and Ken Hannam wanted to show them in images. Jeremy Brett has certainly devastated her hair in a bout of depression, and the prescribed lithium thickens her figure without eradicating uncontrolled exaltation, which results in extravagant clothing. And yet, Holmes and Watson form an irresistible duo in this adventure. Holmes, physically weakened, permeable to the omnipresence of death and sucked into the temptation of a dangerous exploration, was reborn as soon as the crime was announced and stood up to the formidable Dr. Sterndale, brilliantly interpreted by Denis Quilley. Watson, impressively authoritative, protects him tooth and nail, but is not afraid to reproach him for his recklessness. Their friendship shines forth. Watson saves Holmes from madness and death and Holmes, forgetting his pride, proclaims his sincere remorse for putting him in danger. Brett is aware that the two Victorian gentlemen avoid any physical contact and always call each other by their surnames, and it is knowingly that he grabs Edward Hardwicke's neck by shouting: "John!". If this apostrophe is so moving, it is because it is, literally, unheard of, and suddenly reveals to us the deep affection hidden under Holmes' apparent coldness. Brett and Hardwicke were also bound by a true friendship, and their game here certainly draws on their experience.




Plot summary (spoiler)

Sentenced to a forced vacation, Holmes was saved from boredom by the outbreak of a tragedy. Brenda Tregennis was discovered dead and her brothers Owen and Georges were struck by madness. The third brother, Mortimer, who, after an inheritance dispute, took pension from the presbytery, claims to know nothing about the tragedy. However, the housekeeper informed Holmes that, present the previous evening, he had asked for the fire to be rekindled. And around Brenda's neck, Holmes finds a pendant ring. He and Watson reflect in front of the sea when Dr. Sterndale, explorer and anthropologist, comes along. Notified by the Reverend Rounday and immediately returned from Plymouth, he became angry that Holmes refused to tell him who he suspected. The next day, Rounday, upset, arrived at Holmes and Watson's house. Mortimer died and has the same symptoms as Brenda. Holmes spotted a powder on Mortimer's lamp that he was taking. Convinced that it is a toxic product, he buys a lamp to burn it to check for harmful hallucinatory effects! Watson protested, but stayed and rescued Holmes in extremis by dragging him out. As soon as they recovered, Sterndale showed up, furious to be summoned, but when Holmes showed him Brenda's ring, the doctor, devastated, confessed everything. In love with Brenda for years, he had been in contact with Mortimer and had explained to him the fearsome power of the root called Devil's Foot. Upon learning of the tragedy, he understood that Mortimer had stolen Radix Pedis Diaboli powder from him and thrown it into the chimney to poison Brenda and her brothers and inherit their property. Holmes not having unmasked the assassin, Sterndale, applying the law of the Talion, had made Mortimer inhale the poisoned smoke. Holmes, refusing to denounce the explorer, invited him to return to Africa to continue his work.

  • Credits : Monique Claisse (texts), Sarah Fava (photos), Granada.