As you may have guessed by the title of this entry, Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle: The Dark Beginning of Sherlock Holmes is a fictionalized rendition of how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came up with one of fiction’s most iconic characters >>> Sherlock Holmes. This movie stars the wonderful Ian Richardson (of the original House of Cards) as Dr. Bell, Doyle’s mentor.
Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle: The Dark Beginning of Sherlock Holmes gives us a small glimpse into Doyle’s life in medical school. ( I was quite surprised by his family’s circumstances.) We are treated to what medical school in the late 1800s might have been like. Women are fighting to be seen as good enough to have the privilege of attending these universities; while it’s almost a given for rich, young men to have a seat in these lecture halls.
Dr. Bell is a medical doctor and professor who is quite different than the other teachers at the university. He doesn’t seem to question having women in his classes nor does he believe in simply teaching the medical students basic information. He has them use their deductive reasoning skills to become the best doctors possible.
Dr. Bell employs Doyle as his research assistant, which becomes an all-consuming, highly rewarding experience. It is this “internship” that Doyle uses as his basis for Sherlock Holmes’ deductive powers. According to the movie, Dr. Bell works at solving murders which the local police are unable to solve. He does so through reading all of the clues, not just the obvious.
Robin Laing gives a very good performance as young Arthur Conan Doyle in this BBC production. The costumes and sets are particularly good. The movie shows us how Sherlock Holmes could definitely have been modeled on Dr. Bell. If you enjoy terrific British made-for-TV movies, Ian Richardson, and Sherlock Holmes, I think you’ll enjoy Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes.
PS. This movie is not available on Netflix or Acorn at this time. (When I wrote this entry, it was available on Netflix in disc format. Apparently they are waiting to re-release it, and have it on their “Save to DVD Queue” mode.)
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