A Movie A Day: THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1970)
I don’t hate women, I merely distrust them.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Let me start out by saying I’ve found a new favorite with this film. Billy Wilder crafted a completely entertaining, fast-paced laugh fest that not only succeeds as a comedy, but also a character study as well. The dramatic elements don’t interfer with the comedy, they just support it.
I’m no expert on Sherlock Holmes. Outside of a few Holmes movies, I’m rather in the dark with the history of the character. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be let in on the joke, since the film starts off with Dr. Watson’s will be executed and his trunk full of Holmes relics opened. I thought I wasn’t getting each item brought out, but luckily for me they were all items from the story being told in the movie.
I saw a giant book compiling every one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories at Costco recently… very affordable… something like $20 for a nice, leatherbound book. Might have to pick it up because I’d love to revisit this movie after reading the complete Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
While I never felt in the dark as a viewer I can guarantee there’s a deeper level of understanding that can be gained from being familiar with the case files. Watson and Holmes discuss many previous cases, sometimes Holmes chastises Watson for exaggerating. The banter is already funny, thanks to the ingenious casting of Robert Stephens as Holmes and Colin Blakely as Watson, but I could tell that there’s a whole other level of appreciation I could be having if I wasn’t such a retard and actually read up on my classic literature.
The idea is that the story we’re seeing is a secret accounting of a particular case that Watson promised would go unpublished until well after they were both in their graves. When Watson’s (unseen) heir opens a trunk 50 years after his death (during the opening credits) a lot of items are pulled out, everything from Holmes’ cocaine syringe to his iconic pipe, hat and clue that are found throughout the adventure follow. Also included is the manuscript for this case, outlining a darker, truer version of Sherlock Holmes than those accounts published to the mystery rags of their time.
Sounds like a dark drama, doesn’t it? Never forget this is Billy Wilder telling this tale. The overall tone is very light, but it is punctuated with very serious character moments, like Watson’s fruitless attempts to talk Holmes out of his cocaine habit, which only manifests itself when he’s very low (usually due to boredom having no cases worthy of his intellect).
Stephens plays Holmes almost effeminately, which actually is important to the story. There is a question about Holmes’ sexuality that is never wrapped up in a nice bow. Early in the movie Holmes is summoned by a famous Russian ballet star. His interest is piqued and when it is revealed she is looking for her child’s father he gets excited.
When did he go missing? Where is the child? Well, there is no child yet. It got lost in the translation. She wants a child and has picked Holmes to be the father, wanting his brilliance… she believes her beauty and his mind will make a worthy child. His excuse to get out of it is that he and Watson are two bachelors who have lived together… for five years… get it?
Of course, this is news to Watson who is busying himself dancing and flirting with all the supporting ballet starlettes, who are swooning over him. This makes for an absolutely wonderful scene as the rumor starts spreading and the beautiful girls he is dancing with start slowly being replaced by the male ballet dancers until it’s just Watson and these guys in tights arm in arm.
When Watson confronts Holmes about it, he explains the situation, but it is very open-ended as to whether or not Holmes might be playing for the other team. Does that explain his misogeny? Or was his heart broken earlier in his life? There are cases to be made for both, as he does have a story about a young fiancée. I like that they keep it ambiguous.
MVP of this movie is Colin Blakely as Watson. He really is a bright beacon of energy and enthusiasm that keeps even the more drab-ish moments from becoming a bore. He is in a couple of the latter PINK PANTHER films, but I can’t say I remember him from those. It’s quite possible this was his one shining moment, the perfect casting in the perfect role.
If it wasn’t for Blakely the MVP would undoubtably go to Christopher Lee, who connects us to yesterday’s ‘80s satire SERIAL, who shatters his pigeon-holing horror casting with this role as uptight Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older, smarter brother. You get the feeling this dude balances the fate of countries, his decisions ending regimes and starting new ones.
He pops in when Sherlock and Watson have taken a case from the lovely Genevieve Page, playing an amnesiac looking for her husband, trying to talk them out of it. He can’t go into any details, but if Sherlock continues he will be trampling on a situation Mycroft views as too big for him to handle.
It’s a wonderful role for Lee, who had previously played both Watson and Sherlock and is to this day the only actor, I believe, to have played both Holmes brothers and Dr. Watson. As Mycroft he’s able to be very strong, but not threatening. He’s not a dark character, even though he is shrouded in mystery.
In fact on this DVD there’s a brilliant special feature which is just Christopher Lee talking about Sherlock Holmes as a literary character, his insights to the books and to Arthur Conan Doyle himself and the debt he feels to Billy Wilder. It’s worth the price of the DVD alone, nevermind the great movie itself.
After a little digging, I discovered that Wilder actually shot a lot more than what is in this movie. It was originally intended to be a big, roadshow type movie, complete with intermission, chronicalling multiple “newly discovered” Holmes tales. Wilder apparently shot and edited together a three hour and 20 minute epic series of Holmes tales that the studio ultimately cut down to just over 2 hours, eliminating all but the main tale involving the Loch Ness monster, the Queen of England and midgets (I’m not kidding).
Supposedly that footage is lost and nobody expects it to turn up. Pretty insane… how the hell do you spend a ton of money on footage like that and not at least keep the original camera negative? I mean, seriously… I know there wasn’t home video and the idea of owning different cuts of movies wasn’t even hatched, but still… there must have been re-release value or something, yeah?
Final Thoughts: This movie has Wilder’s trademarks: effortlessly entertaining and a vehicle for some perfectly cast actors, from big names like Christopher Lee to relative unknowns. In fact, rumor has it that Peter Sellers was originally going to play Watson to Peter O’Toole’s Holmes… which would have been fascinating, but I can’t imagine that would have turned out any better than Stephens and Blakely. The chemistry between all the players is perfect, the cinematography is gorgeous and dreamlike and the balance between drama and comedy is nailed. I highly recommend this one.
Here are the final run of A Movie A Day titles:
Thursday, January 1st: IRMA LA DOUCE (1963)
Friday, January 2nd: THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE (1974)
Saturday, January 3rd: THE GOODBYE GIRL (1977)
Sunday, January 4th: LOST IN YONKERS (1993)
Monday, January 5th: THE SUNSHINE BOYS (1975)
Tuesday, January 6th: CALIFORNIA SUITE (1978)
Wednesday, January 7th: A BRIDGE TOO FAR (1977)
Tomorrow begins our final week of AMAD, following director Billy Wilder over to the Jack Lemmon/Shirley MacLaine reteaming romantic comedy IRMA LA DOUCE! See you folks for that one!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body
November 6th: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
November 7th: Libeled Lady
November 8th: Up The River
November 9th: Doctor Bull
November 10th: Judge Priest
November 11th: Ten Little Indians
November 12th: Murder On The Orient Express
November 13th: Daniel
November 14th: El Dorado
November 15th: The Gambler
November 16th: Once Upon A Time In America
November 17th: Salvador
November 18th: Best Seller
November 19th: The Holcroft Covenant
November 20th: Birdman of Alcatraz
November 21st: The Train
November 22nd: Gunfight At The O.K. Corral
November 23rd: Mystery Street
November 24th: Border Incident
November 25th: The Tin Star
November 26th: On The Beach
November 27th: Twelve O’Clock High
November 28th: Gentleman’s Agreement
November 29th: Panic In The Streets
November 30th: The Hot Rock
December 1st: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
December 2nd: The Day of the Dolphin
December 3rd: Carnal Knowledge
December 4th: The Cincinnati Kid
December 5th: Pocketful of Miracles
December 6th: Mikey & Nicky
December 7th: Two-Minute Warning
December 8th: The Sentinel
December 9th: How To Steal A Million
December 10th: What’s New Pussycat?
December 11th: Being There
December 17th: The Party
December 18th: Casino Royale
December 19th: The Stranger
December 20th: Brother Orchid
December 21st: The Petrified Forest
December 22nd: Moontide
December 23rd: Notorious
December 24th: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
December 25th: The High Commissioner
December 26th: The Silent Partner
December 27th: Payday
December 28th: A Stranger Is Watching
December 29th: The New Kids
December 30th: Serial
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Jan. 1, 2009, 12:29 p.m. CST
Billy Wilder is a GOD.
Jan. 1, 2009, 12:34 p.m. CST
... I see you're gonna start some movies with Jack Lemmon. Don't miss "Missing", "The Front Page" or "The China Syndrome" in case you haven't seen them
Jan. 1, 2009, 12:43 p.m. CST
...and extended editions. I remember that the original negatives of the original "The Wicker Man" are lost and the only reason why we still don't have an NC 17 rated director's cut of Event Horizon is that the negatives of the unused footage ended up in a russian salt mine!<br> But hey, on the other hand, they even found some "new" footage of Metropolis, so maybe in 50 years or so we see what Sherlock Holmes did with the Midgets.
Jan. 1, 2009, 12:47 p.m. CST
... a 12-minute sequence that was cut from the film. Your review didn't specify if that was the case for the DVD as well, but I wanted to point that out in case you desired to track down more footage from this film. :-)
Jan. 1, 2009, 1:01 p.m. CST
Like you Quint, it started my obsession with Sherlock Holmes and I have since become a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work. I also love how they made Mycroft thin where in the books he is fat, as if Watson was getting his revenge by making him a lard ass in his writings. <p> I want to also add a recommendation to anyone who liked this movie: The Seven Percent Solution. Where this movie dealt with the question of Holmes' sexuality, that deals with his drug addiction, and he teams up with Sigmund Freud in it. A good double-feature. <p> Finally, Happy New Year Quint and thanks for the good work in the past year.
Jan. 1, 2009, 1:42 p.m. CST
I don't believe Lee ever played Watson...at least I'm not aware of it. He played Holmes in the West German production of Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace as well as a short series out of Belgium. He also played Sir Henry Baskerville in the Hammer Production of the Hound. I believe you have to go back to the 30s to find an actor who played both Holmes and Watson on the screen. That would be Reginald Denny. The great Jeremy Brett played Holmes in the Grenada series on TV. He also played Watson on stage opposite Charleton Heston as Holmes in the Crucifer of Blood.
Jan. 1, 2009, 2:07 p.m. CST
Today those terms are used as marketing ploys to double dip on dvds. Back in the early days of laserdisc and dvd I craved unused footage. While most of it is lost from the early films say "pre 1970" before we had maverick directors I didn't know a Billy Wilder had several cuts. Them roadshow movies were a neat oddity, I got Happiest Millionaire Roadshow Edition and for cut scenes remember the Good, Bad , and Ugly with the restored re dubbed scenes added, the gratuitous board room massacre in the X rated Robocop, the jitterbug in Oz, Biggs Darklighter, the bugs in King Kong, dust storm in Jedi... always a good story why they were removed. Wish there was a four hour cut of the Searchers laying around somewhere. I would love to see some of the rumored extra footage of English Bob in Unforgiven or anything from Indiana jones. Damn directors with Final cut!
Jan. 1, 2009, 2:31 p.m. CST
MGM released a 2-disc DVD with the intended beginning (kind of fragmented) and a story set on a ocean liner that was pretty good. I found it at the public library; Amazon doesn't have everything.
Jan. 1, 2009, 2:36 p.m. CST
At the very least, it could have been recycled into a quickie sequel if the shorter, released version had been a success.
Jan. 1, 2009, 2:45 p.m. CST
MGM barely released the film and butchered it; and my mistake... it's just one disc. Wilder got the bad rap that he was box office poison after this.
Jan. 1, 2009, 2:55 p.m. CST
He played the detective in a three movies. I saw one of them but I had to imdb to get the full list of titles: Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace; Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady; and Incident at Victoria Falls.
Jan. 1, 2009, 3:04 p.m. CST
Glad you liked this Quint. Re the cutting Wilder never really got over it. Big shame as the great man never tried anything this ambitious before or after. I agree that Blakely and Lee are superb but Stephens as Holmes to me is up there with O'toole as Lawrence or Connery as Bond( rumour has it Stephens had a breakdown coz of the part) like you I'm no Holmes geek, but that doesn't stop me loving this movie. It's a tragedy that the original version is lost but this is still a masterpiece.
Jan. 1, 2009, 3:57 p.m. CST
It was wildly unfashionable to like this movie in the 70s, as it was considered a big "misfire" from Wilder. I loved it from the first time I saw it - he had me at the Miklos Rosza score, based on the composer's violin concerto from the 50s - but for years felt like a lone voice singing its praises. I actually got to inteview Wilder in Cannes in 1978 (only eight years after HOLMES' release), and he was delighted this young (19 at the time) journalist was so effusive about a film he considered butchered by the studio. In the end, in typically self-effacing way, he said "It was just enough picture - but thank you for liking it so much". Talking to him was the first time I discovered that there were the missing scenes - sadly, as we know, the only material that exists is picture without sound, and sound without picture - so a complete, true "director's cut" can never be assembled. But it's interesting to see fragments of this material on the dvd. And the film remains a late, great melancholy Wilder masterpiece.
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:03 p.m. CST
Tho his website makes the claim that he's the only actor to have played both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Nitpicking aside, this is a wonderful movie. Colin Blakely is great in this, tho there's comparatively little movie work of his - he was a big face on TV in the UK in the 1960s and 70s. There's a great late 1960s Dennis Potter TV play called SON OF MAN which stars Blakely as Jesus - he's phenomenal in that.
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:09 p.m. CST
Great choice, Quint.<p> (Spoiler)<p> My favorite "sad ending" movie, after Chinatown and On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:10 p.m. CST
Has been YouTubed in 12 parts. Here's part 1: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LHEJWRNxvck
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:11 p.m. CST
I too love this film, and the wonderful score. I saw it when I was a kid and much of it went over my head, but loved the fact the Loch Ness Monster was in it... sort of! On occasions the jumps between out-right humour and the underlying darkness jar a little but not enough to take the edge off the film. Fabulous and a little sad as well.
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:29 p.m. CST
...from a great filmmaker.
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:36 p.m. CST
Christopher Lee has one of the more interesting resumes when it comes to Sherlockian productions, having played Holmes, Mycroft and Sir Henry Baskerville. But many other actors have played multiple Sherlockian characters. In an earlier post, I mentioned Reginald Denny and Jeremy Brett. Here are some others of note... Richard E. Grant played both Mycroft and Stapleton in different TV productions in the same year (2002). And Ian Hart not only played Watson twice on TV, he also played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Finding Neverland. I'm sure there are many other examples not yet mentioned...
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:49 p.m. CST
One - to true Holmes fans, it's always 'Holmes and Watson', never Sherlock and Watson. To my knowledge, Mycroft Holmes was the only character to ever call Holmes by his given name. Second, although The Sign Of Four is the first Holmes story, I'd recommend The Hound Of The Baskervilles. I read this in 6th grade. It captivated me then and it still does today (MUCH later). The atmosphere Doyle manages to construct draws the reader in even more than the story, which is quite good, and the climax is amazing. Creepy moments abound. Whatever movie version you might have seen does not begin to do justice to it. It was this book that led to my lifelong appreciation for Holmes and Watson. I envy you. Buy that book and get ready to enjoy many evenings of solid reading.
Jan. 1, 2009, 4:55 p.m. CST
Rupert Everett played Holmes just the other night on the BBC in 'The Case of the Silk Stocking', a repeat from '04. He wasn't bad, but was too young for the particular period this story was set in; later Holmes. Another brilliant version, and so close to Sydney Paget's illustrations was Douglas Wilmer.
Jan. 1, 2009, 5:16 p.m. CST
I love this film. Hope the write-up inspires a few people to check it out.
Jan. 1, 2009, 5:21 p.m. CST
Sorry to call you out, but Sign of Four wasn't the first Holmes story. It was A Study in Scarlet.
Jan. 1, 2009, 5:22 p.m. CST
Check out the documentary A STUDY IN SHERLOCK which looks at the various incarnations of Holmes on screen. Lots of great stuff here, particularly on the Douglas Wilmer, Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushing interpretations .
Jan. 1, 2009, 6 p.m. CST
But I love the Movie a Day feature!! I have really enjoyed the reviews/discussions of the movies I've seen and had my interest piqued by those I haven't. I was under the impression that you were going to do this for a whole year. I'm sure there have been times when seeing and writing about a movie every day must have seemed like a burden, but what an education in film it has been for all of us. I'm sorry it will be over soon and I'm going to miss it a lot. Although I am a long-time reader of AICN, I almost never post because of the generally juvenile tone if the talk-backs, but AMaD even has good talk-backs. I am totally bummed that it will be over so soon.
Jan. 1, 2009, 6:15 p.m. CST
Crap..you're right and I'm embarrassed.
Jan. 1, 2009, 6:38 p.m. CST
Why do I find it no surprise that a guy whose user name is Rathbone would know the name of the first Sherlock Holmes story?
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:15 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
The Russian ambassador that tries to broker the deal between Holmes and the ballerina was Clive Revill who was the original emperor's voice in The Empire Strikes Back.
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:24 p.m. CST
How about Christopher Lee who played Mycroft in Private Life and Count Dooku in Episodes 2 & 3. Granted, the obscure choice is more interesting...
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:35 p.m. CST
Of course, the Star Wars comment got me thinking about Grand Moff Tarkin played by Peter Cushing. As several other talkbackers have mentioned, he was a great Holmes as well.
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:36 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
Maybe we should just can the Star Wars talk altogether. Otherwise some ravin fanboy idiot will spring up from one of the many AICN Fox/Rothman hate sessions and will start with that idiotic boycotting nonsense.
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:41 p.m. CST
but - a good Star Wars connection is that General Dodonna (Alex McCrindle - my Grandmothers cousin) was also in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:42 p.m. CST
You've got a deal. I don't want to start a war. I'm just happy to be talking about Sherlock Holmes on AICN and don't want to ruin this opportunity.
Jan. 1, 2009, 7:56 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
What role did he play?
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:03 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
You're right! Let's not waste a rare moment here! What are some of your other favorite Holmes on film? Jeremy Brett was the king of course. I'm a big fan of The Seven Per Cent Solution and A Study in Terror. Although I like most of Bob Clark's movies, Murder By Decree always left me a little cold. It was almost as if they quit trying once they found a deerstalker cap and a giant magnifying glass for Christopher Plummer. The TV version of The Crucifer of Blood was a huge letdown for any of us lucky enough to have seen the awesome Broadway production.
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:03 p.m. CST
I was thinking of Sign of Four in my earlier post because that was where Watson decided to get married. I wonder if, later on, Doyle thought of that move as a mistake. THe lovely Mary seemed to disappear in later stories. In any case, IMHO, a true Holmes adventure has to begin on a foggy night with Holmes and Watson in the sitting room at 221B. Or Holmes standing over Watson's bed in the dead of night, telling him to get up, that the game's afoot. Oh, and btw, where the heck did Watson take that Jezeel bullit??? On last thing - good screen name. Many fine actors have portrayed Holmes, but Rathbone WAS Holmes.
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:11 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
Wasn't it his leg?
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:32 p.m. CST
Different stories place the wound in different places. Sometimes its in his leg, sometimes his shoulder. Sort of a "magic bullet."
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:33 p.m. CST
sorry someone had to say it!
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:36 p.m. CST
I was raised on Brett, so he will always be my ideal. But Rathbone was so damn suave. Loved him in Hound. Unfortunately the series went off track when it switched from Fox to Universal and abandoned the period setting. Of the later films, I think the Scarlet Claw has the most atmosphere. While it's far from Doyle's writing, I can't help by enjoy Young Sherlock Holmes. My wife even let me hang the original movie poster in our bedroom.
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:46 p.m. CST
At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, I've also got promotional art for Dressed to Kill and A Study in Terror.
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:50 p.m. CST
the talkbacks generated here have gotten me to post on this site,too, which I have been reading since the days they were posting bootleg photos of Maul and Qui Gon playing in the desert. These discussions are what we talked about late night in the video store while closing making 3.50 an hour, when VHS tapes were 3 pounds, and the only thing that was letterboxed was the drop box. It got me back to watching almost a movie a night. Now here is my best of list......just kidding
Jan. 1, 2009, 8:59 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
Brag away! What exactly is the art that you have? Back to the movie at hand: What makes Wilder so damn brilliant is his ability to effortlessly go from genre to genre. He never let his personal stamp get in the way of the story. And you actually had to listen to movies back then. The audience was required to do more than sit there slack jawed, watching the latest camera and computer eye candy. Let's see today's post-MTV, style over substance darlings do that.
Jan. 1, 2009, 9:09 p.m. CST
First of all, my two posters are in actuality lobby cards. As for Wilder...an indisputably great director. Unfortunately, we haven't had many of the giants of cinema tackle Sherlock Holmes. Can you imagine if Hitchcock had directed the Speckled Band?
Jan. 1, 2009, 9:28 p.m. CST
Sy Weintraub produced the Tarzan series between 1959 and 1968 (1971 if you consider the 2 movies he released to Theaters, that were actually 2 part episodes of the Ron Ely TV series edited together). I'm not alone in saying that his Tarzan's Greatest Adventure is the best Tarzan movie. He also produced The Sign Of Four and Hound Of The Baskervilles for British TV in 1983, both of which are excellent, especially Hound, right up there with the best Holmes on screen. In A Study In Scarlet, Doyle's first Holmes story, the mystery involves the Mormons, including Brigham Young, who are portrayed as a frightening, fanatical cult not above murder in dealing with those who would stray from the teachings. Probably why it's never been done on screen (unless there's a silent version I don't know about).
Jan. 1, 2009, 9:29 p.m. CST
It's a small part at the railway station - he plays the baggage man. He was never a huge actor, playing smaller roles in movies but did an awful lot of British television - he always said he was hired for Star Wars because he was cheap
Jan. 1, 2009, 9:41 p.m. CST
Unfortunately for every good Holmes there are ten terrible Holmes - Roger Moore, Matt Frewer, Ian Richardson, Peter Cook, Charlton Heston, Frank Langella, Edward Woodward and this may sound like heresy but I do not get this fascination with Hound of the Baskervilles - which chickens out from being supernatural and has a story that seperates Holmes and Watson for most of the story.<BR><BR>My favourite, non Cona-Doyle stories are Masks of Death, Murder by Decree, Private Life and the Seven Percent Solution.
Jan. 1, 2009, 9:48 p.m. CST
I've read plenty of books where Holmes fights Dracula. While they're fun, I'm glad the "real" stories avoid going supernatural. Holmes works best when he's set in the real world with the laws of logic and physics.
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:05 p.m. CST
Without checking IMDB, I'm pretty sure that Reginald Denny filmed a version of A Study In Scarlet back in the 30s. I don't know of any more recent versions...probably due to the concerns voiced by SnootyBoots. And I've never seen the Richardson movies, so I can't comment on them. But I've heard very good things...
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:11 p.m. CST
Just checked IMDB. The Holmes from the 1933 A Study in Scarlet was Reginald OWEN. Reginald Denny was the guy who was beat up in the Rodney King riots in LA. And I work in news! Boy do I feel dumb!
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:16 p.m. CST
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:16 p.m. CST
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:20 p.m. CST
(Pressed the wrong key twice!) Anyway, to me me Zero Effect is clearly an adaptation of A Scandal In Bohemia
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:28 p.m. CST
by half vader
Of course I bought all 3 series just before they remastered everything. Grrr. Any Blu-ray coming? Anyway, still can't decide which Watson I like best from the show...
Jan. 1, 2009, 10:42 p.m. CST
...is a FANTASTIC novel, and probably my favorite Holmes story, but I found the movie really disappointing, despite the novelist (Nicholas "Wrath of Khan" Meyer) writing the screenplay. And, yes, Brett is the best Holmes ever. That series was amazing.
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:03 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
I liked them both but lean a little more toward David Burke. I just picked up the remastered box set and it's truly a thing of beauty.
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:07 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
Did you ever read Meyer's other two Holmes pastiches? They're both very entertaining reads. I'm currently reading The Italian Secretary which was written by the great Caleb Carr. Speaking of which, when the fuck is The Alienist going to get filmed?
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:09 p.m. CST
Never even heard of the movie before! I'll have to hunt it down. Thanks for the tip!
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:14 p.m. CST
Burke was the more physical and more comedic Watson. But his emotion in The Final Problem was touching. Still, I prefer the more cerebral Hardwicke. Maybe it's because of the way he stuck beside Brett during the emotional turmoil of his final years.
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:19 p.m. CST
I enjoyed 7% Solution, even though it opened the door for too much armchair psychiatry that tends to paint Holmes as a victim. The West End Horror and The Canary Trainer were both fun reads, but never quite recaptured the zeitgeist of his first book. As for other pastiches... I thought Michael Chabon really captured Holmes' voice in The Final Problem, at least up until the story went off the rails in the last chapter. I also consistently enjoy Laurie King's Mary Russell series.
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:21 p.m. CST
Chabon's book was The Final SOLUTION...not the Final Problem.
Jan. 1, 2009, 11:39 p.m. CST
And A Bridge Too Far on blu-ray is fucking gorgeous.
Jan. 2, 2009, 1 a.m. CST
Rathbone, see it, Bill Pullman as "holmes" Ben Stiller (playing the stright man) as "Watson", Ryan O'Neil and Kim Dickins, directed by Jake Kasdan (in his feature debut). it's good it's smart it's funny...check it out<P>Paul Bucciarelli I've bene trying to get through Carr's take on Holmes for a couple of years now, it's well written I just don't think it moves along as fast as Doyle did or even Carr did with THE ALIENEST...and yes we need an ALIENEST and ANGEL OF DARKNESS series...and I wish carr would write more with those char.
Jan. 2, 2009, 1:14 a.m. CST
All this talk of Holmes reminded me "They Might Be Giants" from the early 70's, with George C. Scott as an insane man who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes, and Joanne Woodward as his shrink whose last name happens to be Watson. I don't know if any of you guys saw it, but I found it to be enjoyable.
Jan. 2, 2009, 1:46 a.m. CST
I've read all three of them, yes. I'd have to agree with Rathbone. They're fine, but they lack the ingenuity of the first. That's sort of a pattern with Meyer, though. The more familiar he gets with a property, the more license he has to play with it, the more he starts to believe his farts don't smell. He did the same thing when he had creative control of the Star Trek films. Regardless, of his other Holmes novels, I slightly preferred 'The Canary Trainer' over 'The West End Horror'. Although, the G.B. Shaw cameo in 'Horror' was cute.
Jan. 2, 2009, 3:37 a.m. CST
by half vader
Gah! A thing of beauty. Well of COURSE it is (grumble grumble)... ;)
Jan. 2, 2009, 4:01 a.m. CST
a series (and a performance) clearly channelling Holmes...
Jan. 2, 2009, 4:34 a.m. CST
I think that is reaching or at least oversimplifying things. Holmes was infatiuated...or at least admired Irene Adler in A Scandal In Bohemia. I THINK the problem was that Holmes NEEDED someone his equal and he saw that in Holmes (and Adler, who was smart enough to figure out who he was)
Jan. 2, 2009, 4:44 a.m. CST
that in A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA, Watson does say that Holmes didn't love Adler, because he was incapable of love. However I do think HOlmes was taken back with her
Jan. 2, 2009, 6:01 a.m. CST
Perfect, romantically bittersweet music.... Also, loved Holmes encounter with tiny Queen Victoria, who sputters "We are not amused" at the idea of submarine warfare.
Jan. 2, 2009, 7:48 a.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
I don't know if a soundtrack album was ever released but Telarc put a CD of his concertos a few years ago. Love Rosza's stuff. I just picked up the soundtrack for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.
Jan. 2, 2009, 7:59 a.m. CST
a good one is Exit Sherlock Holmes by Robert Lee Hall. It has Watson trying to track Holnmes down and discovering his great secret - it's one hell of a twist but it just about works.
Jan. 2, 2009, 9:53 a.m. CST
by Ivor Heath
One of my all time favourite films, thanks for this piece. An excellent re-recording of the full score was released last year by Tadlow Music here: http://www.pragueorchestras.com/sherlock.htm
Jan. 2, 2009, 11:19 a.m. CST
by Skyway Moaters
Nicol Williamson is amazing as Holmes, Duvall delivers a a gimpy but still feisty pit-bull interpretation of Watson that is not to be missed. Plus you've got Alan Arkin as young Sigmund Freud! <p> A remarkable film from most points of consideration: production design, cinematography, some thrilling old school practical effects action sequences, costumes lighting, well done all round. IMO the film has a couple of minor script and pacing issues and one glaring continuity error. Watch closely and see if you notice it. A rousing watch, minor flaws at best, cool as shit movie.
Jan. 2, 2009, 11:26 a.m. CST
- that you're watching one a day to fill in your collection. The true film fan. A friend of mine did this with all of the Academy Award winners. And your list has reminded me of a bunch of films that I'd forgotten I want to see. Good stuff.
Jan. 2, 2009, 2:06 p.m. CST
Is Caleb any relation to John Dickinson Carr, who also wrote several Holmes pastiches and a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?
Jan. 2, 2009, 5:14 p.m. CST
I highly recommend you spend the 20 bucks for it. I reread the complete Holmes collection every few years. Still great stories and novels after all these years!
Jan. 2, 2009, 6:54 p.m. CST
if you ever get a chance to see any of them (and don't mind subtitles) stars Russian actor Vassiliy Livanov as Holmes.
Jan. 2, 2009, 6:55 p.m. CST
A Holmes pastiche by Philip Jose Farmer in which the adventure is with Tarzan in Africa during WW1. Read it a long time ago when I was going through the Tarzan novels one after the other, before I'd ever read any Holmes. Remember liking it then. Should probably revisit it sometime.
Jan. 2, 2009, 7:04 p.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
Farmer's book was fun. For pulp fans there are a couple of Easter eggs to look for.
Jan. 2, 2009, 7:15 p.m. CST
Checked IMDB myself. An in name only adaptation. The plot has nothing to do with Doyle's novel. There is a 1914 film that apparently follows the book.
Jan. 2, 2009, 7:57 p.m. CST
I thought he was shockingly wooden and lackluster in the role, though he wasn't helped by a terrible script.
Jan. 4, 2009, 4:02 a.m. CST
by Droogie Alex
"Watson, the needle....."
Jan. 4, 2009, 8:01 a.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
A great one isn't it?
Jan. 4, 2009, 2:51 p.m. CST
I only hope Robert Downey can pull off the same vibe as Rathbone, etc. With Ritchie at the helm, it could turn out to be just another action flick.
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