The Problem of Thor Bridge (TV episode 1991)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Problem of Thor Bridge

The Problem of Thor Bridge (episode No. 28) is the 2nd episode of season 5 of the Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hardwicke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 28 february 1991. 48 min.

The episode is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Problem of Thor Bridge (1922).

The plot is particularly well constructed, constantly maintaining a compelling suspense. Grace Dunbar's guilt is first presented as so obvious that one wonders how the hell Holmes will clear her. Especially since a frightening countdown has already begun, with the girl's trial to be held two days later. There are many surprises. Thus, the adventure added by Jeremy Paul in his script, which is usually very faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle, has the double merit of giving Watson a decisive role and causing a spectacular twist. Holmes seemed to be running out of resources, so Watson offered him his solution to the problem of Maria Gibson's death: her husband killed her and hid the gun in Grace's room to incriminate her. Jeremy Brett's gripping game leads us to believe that Holmes adheres to Watson's ideas and is overwhelmed by the shame of not having them himself. Until the moment when, reconstructing the crime, he reveals that in reality, it was Maria who committed the actions attributed by Watson to Gibson. The adaptation gives the secondary characters even more relief than the new one. Holmes and businessman Gibson, the incarnation of the cynical and brutal force, engage in an implacable duel. To the roars of his raging opponent, Holmes, olympian, opposes a quiet irony and his lucidity, as imperturbable as his courage, will triumph over the resistance of the tycoon. Maria Gibson is no longer reduced to the stereotype of the tropical woman. Magnificent images show her wandering in her lush park, ignored by her children, rejected by her husband, and make her distress sensitive. But we smile when Holmes and Watson, in a cart, meet the arrogant Gibson in his superb car.




Plot summary (spoiler)

Holmes received a letter from the wealthy Neil Gibson, who urged him to clear Grace Dunbar, his children's housekeeper, of the murder of his Brazilian wife Maria. When Gibson came forward, he offered Holmes a fortune but left Baker Street furious when the detective demanded to know his true relationship with the accused. Holmes and Watson then visited Grace in prison, but Gibson came along and had them expelled. Later, probably chaperoned by Miss Dunbar, he agreed to receive the detective. On Thor's way, Holmes and Sergeant Coventry examined the bridge where Maria was found with a bullet in her head and noticed that a stone chip had been ripped from the railing. Gibson admits to the detective that, since his wife has become a stranger to him, he has passionately fallen in love with Grace, and allows her to meet him again in prison. The housekeeper told Holmes that Maria, devoured by jealousy, having obtained an appointment from her at Thor's bridge, welcomed her with a torrent of insults that made her flee. Seeing Holmes discouraged, Watson offered him his version of the facts: Gibson killed his cumbersome wife and then hid the gun at Grace's house to get revenge for his refusal to belong to him. Holmes, suddenly full of optimism, leads Coventry and Watson to the Thor's bridge. There, he demonstrates, by carefully reconstructing Maria's actions, that she shot herself with a pistol connected to a rope at the end of which a stone was attached. When the gun went off, the weapon was dragged into the lake, damaging the railing as it passed. Having taken care beforehand to place the second pistol of the pair in the chest of his rival to better incriminate him, Maria had made her suicide look like a murder.

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