The Solitary Cyclist (TV episode 1984)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Solitary Cyclist

The Solitary Cyclist (episode No. 4) is the 4th episode of season 1 of Granada series: Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and David Burke as Dr. Watson, aired on ITV on 15 may 1984. 52 min.

The episode is an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story : The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist (1904).

According to Michael Cox, The Solitary Cyclist is a strong and typical Conan Doyle story. It begins with an enigma whose oddness is emphasized by Patrick Gowers' music: Who is the elusive bearded cyclist who follows obstinately Violet Smith without ever attempting anything and what is his objective? The plot contains all the ingredients needed to make an enthralling story. A nice and pretty potential victim; a foul frame-up which aims at despoiling of her uncle's inheritance a poor girl, who earns her living by teaching music; two odious villains: Williamson, a dismissed clergyman, and Woodley, a smutty and violent lout; a crook redeemed by love, Carruthers, and a pair of valiant knights who stand up for the weak and the oppressed, Holmes and Watson. The episode presents many powerful scenes, among which stands out the gripping moment when Holmes, Watson and Carruthers find Violet gagged and grasped by her vile abductor, while Williamson celebrates their so-called marriage. The film brings to light Holmes' outstanding insight, but is action-packed as well. Watson stops a bolting horse, Holmes drives a trap from a standing position and both, fit and vigorous, fly to the damsel-in-distress assistance. Holmes and Watson act as one man, for though the detective has cruelly denigrated and ridiculed his unsuccessful investigations, the good doctor harbours no grudge against him. Jeremy Brett, David Burke and Barbara Wilshere, all three of them looking their best, present us with charming pictures, and humour brightens this dark story from the beginning, where Mrs Hudson shows Violet in, contrary to Holmes' orders, to the end, where Holmes' experience, causing thick clouds of stinking smoke, brings a fire brigade to 221B, Baker Street.




Plot summary (spoiler)

Two crooks, Woodley and Carruthers, claim that Violet Smith's expatriate uncle died a pauper, which is a shameless lie. Carruthers offers her to be his daughter Sarah's governess. Violet is happy with this very well-paid job, until Woodley inflicts unwelcome and rough advances on her. But if she asks for Holmes's help, it is because an enigmatic cyclist follows her during all her bike trips between Farnham Station and Chiltern Grange. Holmes sends Watson to observe the cyclist's game and to makes enquiries about Charlington Hall tenants, to whom he seems connected. Dissatisfied with Watson's report, Holmes goes to Farnham pub and, hit by a drunk and presumptuous Woodley, rewards him with a sound trashing. The day after, Holmes, who fears for Violet, comes back to Farnham with Watson to protect her from being assaulted while her employer's cart takes her to the station. Unfortunately, they arrive too late and find the cart empty! They spot the place where Violet has been abducted, the cyclist catches up with them and the three men rush to Violet help. But Williamson, a defrocked and corrupt priest, has already married Woodley and his captive! Outraged and furious, the cyclist, who is in fact Carruthers in disguise, shoots his former accomplice. According to their scheme, Woodley had to marry Violet in order to get possession of her uncle's fortune and share it with his associates. Rejected, he decided to use strong-arm methods but Carruthers, who had unexpectedly fell in love with Violet, followed her to ensure her protection. Woodley is sentenced to ten years imprisonment, Carruthers to six months. Violet, whose forced marriage with Woodley is invalid, will marry her fiancé and look after young Sarah until her father is released.

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