Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

In director Barry Levinson's mystery adventure:

  • after the opening credits, the prologue stated that the film had an unauthorized premise: "The following story is original and is not specifically based on the exploits of Sherlock Holmes as described in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle."
  • young 16 year-old sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) met and sidekicked with his bespectacled, slightly chubby fellow student partner John Watson (Alex Cox) at an English boarding school, the Brompton Academy in London
  • in the film's opening, a mysterious figure with a dark hood and armed with a blowpipe loaded with thorns (dipped in a hallucinogenic substance) shot a prominent and wealthy Britisher named Mr. Bentley Bobster (Patrick Newell) in the neck; he began to suffer frightening hallucinations in a restaurant and scared the patrons; the roasted bird on his plate came alive and attacked him; embarrassed, he fled from the restaurant to his home, where he suffered a disorienting, delusionary death when objects in his bedroom came alive, attacked, and imaginary flames threatened to consume him. He suicidally hurled himself through his upstairs window and died on the cobblestone street below; the ominous shadowy figure of his assassin walked by his corpse
Attacks on Victim Mr. Bobster at Restaurant and in His Home -
And His Death On Cobblestone Street
  • a school staff member also suffered a strange death - in the school's chapel after hearing a faint jingling, and feeling a sharp pain in his neck from a blowpipe thorn, the Reverend Duncan Nesbitt (Donald Eccles) imagined a stained-glass figure (a knight) coming to life from a stained-glass window with his sword raised. He marched through the church and pursued him. He engaged in sword play and scared the Reverend literally to death. The Reverend ran outside through the front doors of the chapel. In a crazed and insane panic, he fled into the street and was run over by a carriage.
    [Note: the startling, breathtaking CGI character of the fighting medieval knight marked a pioneering moment in visual effects -- the first all-digital animated character. The 30 second on-screen sequence took 6 months to accomplish.]
Medieval Knight Jumping to Life - Causing the Death of the Reverend
  • another murderous incident involved retired inventor and Professor Rupert T. Waxflatter (Nigel Stock), Holmes' mentor, who was also shot by a tainted blowpipe thorn. In a London antique shop, he went mad and suffered a suicidal death by stabbing himself in the chest with a knife while fighting off imagined bat-like gargoyle creatures that were attempting to get under his coat. He provided a clue to Holmes when he died -- a whispered: "Eh-tar, Holmes, Eh-tar."
  • there was an additional segment in which elements came to life during an amusing sequence in which dessert pastries in a shop attempted to force themselves down Watson's mouth
Attack Upon Watson by Dessert Pastries That Came to Life
  • thus Holmes and Watson became involved in an investigation of a long buried secret and deadly Egyptian cult; deep within a London warehouse, Holmes, Watson, and teenaged Holmes' love interest Elizabeth Hardy (Sophie Ward) (Waxflatter's niece) discovered a massive, underground wooden pyramid temple. They witnessed a secret ceremony (a live human sacrifice of a young girl wrapped like a mummy) conducted by an ancient, clandestine Egyptian cult known as Rame Tep that worshipped Osiris. The symbol of Rame Tap was two golden serpents. [Note: the Egyptian Rame-Tep sacrifice scene recalled similar scenes from the previous year's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (directed by executive producer Steven Spielberg).]
The Secret Human Sacrifice Ceremony of Osiris Worshippers

The Temple Leader

The Mummified Live Female Sacrifice

The Worshippers
  • when Holmes interrupted the sacrifice, the trio were chased to the London Cemetery, where they were all shot with a blowpipe thorn and suffered frightening hallucinations, although they escaped and survived
  • through further investigations and sleuthing, Holmes learned more about the history of the evil Egyptian cult from the school's Chester Cragwitch (Freddie Jones), before he became the fourth victim (after Bobster, Nesbitt, and Waxflatter). Many years earlier, Cragwitch was one member of a group of six British businessmen who made plans to build a luxury hotel in Egypt ("a land of opportunity"). During excavations, they made a "major archaeological find" - an underground pyramid (and temple to Rame Tap), holding the ancient tombs of five Egyptian princesses. All the relics and treasures were sent to England. However, local villagers felt that their "sacred ground" had been desecrated, and there was an uprising. A number of local villagers were killed when the British Army quelled the riot
  • a young local boy of Anglo-Egyptian descent named Eh-Tar fled to London with his sister, while back in Egypt, their parents were killed in their village when the British sent in troops to keep the peace. The orphaned Eh-Tar vowed revenge on the British builders who had desecrated the temple - and also sought to replace the bodies of the stolen five Egyptian princesses: ("The boy vowed when he grew to manhood that the Rame Tep would take their revenge and replace the bodies of the five Egyptian princesses") [Later, it was revealed that the school nurse Mrs. Dribb (Susan Fleetwood) was Eh-Tar's younger sister.]
  • Holmes and Watson deduced the identity of the villainous and vengeful Eh-tar, engaged in human sacrifice as a priest (wearing the Anubis mask): it was Professor Rathe (Anthony Higgins), Holmes' own fencing teacher and eccentric schoolmaster
  • the two young sleuths attempted to rescue Elizabeth (who was being prepared in the temple as the 5th and final sacrificial victim) after Rathe had abducted her. Holmes created a diversion by crashing a massive light fixture onto the worshippers, and the two fought off attacks amidst fires that had broken out; Elizabeth was released by Watson, but then recaptured by Rathe; the two sleuths were able to pursue Rathe to a dock area where they retrieved Elizabeth from being abducted, but Rathe pulled out a pistol; Elizabeth was shot and lethally wounded when she stepped into the line of Rathe's gunfire and saved Holmes
  • while Watson attended to Elizabeth, Holmes fought to-the-death in a sword duel with Rathe on the dock, who appeared to die when he tumbled through the surface of an iced-over Thames River
  • then, Holmes returned to Elizabeth, and in a poignant scene, she engaged in a dying exchange with him, with a sad farewell: (Elizabeth: "Don't be sad." Sherlock: "Someday, we'll be reunited, another world, a much better world." Elizabeth: "I'll be waiting. And you'll be late, as always"); after she passed away in his arms, Sherlock nuzzled her close to him as a teardrop ran down the bridge of his nose and he cried out: ("Elizabeth, no... No!") -- marking, according to young John Watson, the last time Holmes ever shed a tear
  • later, after the mystery was solved, Watson happened to make an off-hand comment to Holmes about Rathe and one "important clue" that he had not known - Rathe's name was Eh-tar spelled backwards; Holmes would declare he was transferring from the Academy: ("There are too many memories here"). When Watson protested: ("Holmes, you have your entire life ahead of you!"), he calmly replied: ("Then I'll spend it alone")
  • in the end credits sequence, a surprise twist was revealed: Eh-tar/Rathe was revealed to still be alive. He signed his name in an Alpine Inn guestbook as "Moriarty", as the camera captured his devilish raised right eyebrow. He would live on to become Holmes' future literary arch-nemesis and arch-enemy.
  • [Note: The film explained many of the back-story acquisitions of Holmes' trademarks: his practice of the violin, his inheritance of a deerstalker cap from beloved, deceased mentor Waxflatter (Nigel Stock), his receipt of a pipe as a gift from Watson, and his overcoat from the villainous Professor Rathe (aka Eh Tar.]

Young Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe)

John Watson (Alan Cox)

The Black-Hooded Blowpipe Assassin

Professor Waxflatter Attacked by Imagined Bat-Like Gargoyles - He Stabbed Himself to Death, and Provided Clue: "Eh-tar"

Professor Rathe (Anthony Higgins): The Egyptian Osiris Cult Leader - Eh-Tar

Abducted Elizabeth Hardy (Sophie Ward) Prepared as the Final Human Sacrifice

Rathe Firing At the Group

Elizabeth Shielding Holmes - Shot in the Abdomen

Rathe's 'Death' - Falling Through Ice

Elizabeth's Farewell and Death - Holmes' Grief

Alpine Inn Guestbook Signature: Moriarty

Eh-Tar/Rathe - Moriarty


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