Clive Brook

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Clive Brook
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Clive Brook (1 june 1887 - 17 november 1974) was a British actor who played Sherlock Holmes 3 times on cinema in The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929), Paramount on Parade (1930) and Sherlock Holmes (1932).

In 1929, in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, he played with H. Reeves-Smith as Watson. The plot is based on original stories The Adventure of the Dying Detective and His Last Bow. The movie has 2 interesting points: First, it's the first sherlockian talking movie. However the voices has been lost. Second, the final speech between Holmes and Watson will be as famous as the detective outfit:

  • Watson : "Amazing, Holmes."
  • Holmes : "Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary."

However this phrase is not in the original texts.

In 1930, Clive Brook played again Sherlock Holmes in a sketch movie named Paramount on Parade. His sequence is called Murder Will Out. Again with H. Reeves-Smith as Watson.

In 1932, he played the detective in Sherlock Holmes which is an adaptation of the William Gillette's play, produced with authorization of Conan Doyle right owners. Reginald Owen played Watson.

As often at this time, actors who played Holmes on cinema also played Holmes on Radio. Clive Brook played Holmes in episodes 2 and 3 of the The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series on WEAF-NBC : A Scandal in Bohemia (27 october 1930) and The Red-Headed League (3 november 1930). William Gillette played the first episode. And Clive Brook was replaced after episode 3 by Richard Gordon until the end of the series in 1933.

If Clive Brook was the first to give voice to Sherlock Holmes in a movie, William Gillette had this privilege on the radio. However... It is possible that Brook was also the first on the radio. In autumn 1929, the Paramount who just released in theaters The Return of Sherlock Holmes with Clive Brook, took his first steps on the radio with The Paramount-Publix Radio Hour where parts from his movies are replayed and parodied by comedians and this is what happened with the sherlockian movie on 19 october 1929. The library of the Congress has a copy of the program for this show. It may give the answer to the fundamental question we can then ask: Has Clive Brook played that day the role of Sherlock Holmes in the first sherlockian show on radio to promote his film? And if it is not him, who was it? In both cases, the voice of Holmes on 19 october 1929 would be the first in the history of radio, heard almost a year before the William Gillette's performance.[1]



  1. See Henry Zecher's William Gillette, America's Sherlock Holmes, Xlibris Corporation, 2011, p. 532