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Best of Holmes

Put this in your pipe, Sherlock Holmes fans: More than 75 actors -- from Mack Sennett to, holy Moses, Charlton Heston -- have donned the detective's deerstalker cap on screen.

Latest on the list is Robert Downey Jr., who, for the second time, takes up residence at 221B Baker Street in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows." Unlike most movie Sherlocks, Downey's incarnation is more Superman than super sleuth given all of his action sequences.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Holmes has always been open to interpretation. Need some evidence? Here's what four of the best screen Sherlocks brought to the role.

*Basil Rathbone

His Holmes work: In 14 films, starting with "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1939), Rathbone brought intelligence and wit to his portrayal of the master sleuth. And he looked dapper in a smoking jacket.

Cluing into Holmes: Violins over violence were a Rathbone trait. The actor did his own playing in the Holmes films.

*Peter Cushing

His Holmes work: Cushing first played Holmes in the 1959 "Hound" remake, with an emphasis on Holmes' persnickety ways. He reprised the role in the 1960s BBC series "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes" and 1984's "Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death."

Cluing into Holmes: Cushing had read all of the Holmes' tales and strove for accuracy. He refused to say "Elementary, my dear Watson," or smoke a meerschaum pipe, both of which he said were fallacies.

*Christopher Plummer

His Holmes work: Plummer was a Holmes with a conscience in the 1979 film "Murder by Decree," as he tried to unravel the case of serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Cluing into Holmes: "Murder by Decree" didn't shy away from Holmes' drug addiction.

*Jeremy Brett

His Holmes work: In the 10 years he played Holmes on British television, Brett brought an intensity to the role -- from the eccentric hand gestures to his athleticism leaping over everything from furniture to bridges -- that has made him a favorite among Holmes aficionados.

Cluing into Holmes: On the "Sherlock" set, Brett had a copy of "The Baker Street Files," which he studied to help him nail Holmes' mannerisms from his laugh to his drinking habits.

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