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What to Watch Next if You Like ‘Enola Holmes’

We recommend a dozen movies to seek out after enjoying the Netflix mystery starring Millie Bobby Brown.
movies to watch after Enola Holmes
By  · Published on September 27th, 2020

Young Frankenstein (1974) and The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975)

When it comes to making up characters with parallels and/or familial connections to more iconic figures, the 1970s brought a good deal of comedic offshoots, from the biblical satire of Monty Python’s Life of Brian to the “Life Day” segment of the Star Wars Holiday Special to the dawn of porn parodies with a certain DC Comics spoof involving a random Gotham City couple engaged in lovemaking. And at the center of the decade were two notable Gene Wilder vehicles.

The first, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, stars Wilder as the titular descendant of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Instead of devising a fresh narrative spawned from the literary classic, Brooks directly lampoons elements from Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novel as well as James Whale’s iconic 1931 adaptation and the sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, while also poking fun at itself. Young Frankenstein is probably the most successful film to count as a cinematic equivalent to parallel novels.

One year later, Wilder starred in a less-remembered film aiming to capture the same magic as Young Frankenstein. The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, which is also Wilder’s feature directorial debut, co-stars fellow Young Frankenstein cast members Madeline Kahn and Marty Feldman (plus a vocal cameo from Brooks). Its focus is on another made-up younger sibling of Sherlock Holmes named Sigerson, who is an amateur sleuth in his own right.

The Ruling Class (1972)

If you didn’t get enough of Peter O’Toole in his brief Supergirl appearance, here’s another cult classic with a thorough performance from the actor. He stars in The Ruling Class as a schizophrenic man who inherits a title and position of nobility but is deemed unfit for the role, by his relatives. Unlike the young marquess in Enola Holmes, however, O’Toole’s character isn’t just too politically progressive; he thinks he’s literally Jesus Christ, then later Jack the Ripper.

O’Toole, who received his fifth Oscar nomination for his work in The Ruling Class, also went on to play Sherlock Holmes because Doyle has been adapted so many times that it’s only a matter of time before every British actor is in some sort of Holmes film in some capacity (a national obligation like Shakespeare and Harry Potter). His was only a vocal portrayal, however, in a series of four 1983 animated features based on the four official Sherlock Holmes novels written by Doyle.

I should also give a shout out to the 1971 film They Might Be Giants (yes, the band’s namesake), in which George C. Scott plays a man who starts believing he’s Sherlock Holmes. Then, a psychiatrist at a mental hospital assigned to observe him, whose name happens to be Dr. Watson (played by Joanne Woodward), is recruited to be his sidekick. Against all that is ethical for her profession, she also winds up falling in love with him.

Mary Poppins (1964)

Family films and feminism don’t always go hand in hand, but it’s always nice to see a period piece for young adults that tries to tie in empowering historical material. The plot of Enola Holmes is centered around the Representation of the People Act 1884, which extended voting rights to more of the people of the UK than ever before. Unfortunately, women were not among them, as much as it seems that’s the goal of Enola’s domestic terrorist mother. It’d be almost 35 years later for that.

In Disney’s Mary Poppins, which is set in the UK in 1910, the children’s mother is part of the suffragette movement. There’s even a musical number called “Sister Suffragette,” in which Glynis Johns sings about equal rights and votes for women (votes for women!). The lyrics also mention the movement’s leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, whom you can see portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2015 film Suffragette, which also stars Enola Holmes’ mother, Helena Bonham Carter, as another activist.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Enola Holmes sure likes to change her outfits in her Netflix movie, usually to pass as another gender. She’d appreciate a performance like that of Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets, in which he plays nine different characters, including men and women, all members of an aristocratic British family. That’s fewer simultaneous roles than Buster Keaton manages in the short film The Play House but is more than Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

This Robert Hamer-helmed comedy focuses on a poor man (Dennis Price) who is descended from a noble family but was outcast due to his mother marrying outside her social status. When she dies, he vows to kill all the members of his family (each played by Guinness) in his way from inheriting his rightful title of duke. I thought of recommending Kind Hearts and Coronets because it’s sort of like a reverse of Tewkesbury’s dilemma in Enola Holmes.

Nancy Drew: Detective (1938)

When we think of a teenage girl detective, we tend to think of Nancy Drew. The character, who was first introduced on the page in 1930, recently showed up on the big screen in a film reboot starring Sophia Lillis (who co-starred in IT with Finn Wolfhard, who co-stars in Stranger Things with Millie Bobby Brown), and that’d likely be the most accessible for young viewers who want something more like Enola Holmes.

But I like to reach back to the start of things, so I’m instead highlighting the very first Nancy Drew movie, Nancy Drew: Detective, which is adapted from the 1933 novel The Password to Larkspur Lane. Plus, not only is it the first of a series of four films for Warner Bros. starring Bonita Granville in the role but I think it’s the only Nancy Drew movie with a mystery of a missing person, similar enough to the cases in Enola Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900/1903)

Finally, I must leave you with the very first Sherlock Holmes film ever (as far as anyone knows) — again, I like to reach back to the beginnings of things. This trick-heavy thirty-second Mutoscope motion picture, made in 1900 and copyrighted in 1903, is ironic for being the introduction of the character in cinema since Sherlock is anything but a great detective on screen. Throughout the short, he attempts to catch a burglar, but he’s still unsuccessful at the end, leaving him titularly baffled.

Watch Sherlock Holmes Baffled below.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.