Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Holmes is that you ?

Holmes is once again to be brought to the screen. Its been quite a while since we have seen this London hero portrayed on film, but this time we see the darker side of Holmes ego. Gone is the deer stalker and cape, though the pipe remains we are left wondering what he is smoking. Plus the new film is supposed to explore Holmes homoerotic undertones. In the original books we find that Holmes has a disdain for woman, he perceives them to be weak of mind.The only woman who impressed Holmes was Irene Adler, who was always referred to by Holmes as "The Woman".To Holmes the only joy he gets from their company (woman) is the problems they bring to him to solve. Again in The Sign of Four, Watson quotes Holmes as saying, "I would not tell them too much. Women are never to be entirely trusted, -- not the best of them."

Maybe this homoerotic theory comes from the meeting of Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde in August 1889. The two met for dinner at the Langham Hotel ( Lovely hotel opposite BBC broadcasting house) at the invitation of American publisher J M Stoddart, who wanted them both to write for him murder mysteries. He commissioned from Arthur Conan Doyle what became the second Sherlock Holmes story, The Sign of Four, and he commissioned from Oscar what became The Picture of Dorian Gray. Allegedly Arthur became good friends with Oscar.

So will we see the cocaine addicted, self centered, cruel, lonely anti-social character of the book. A man who actually hates the human race for being nothing more than street rats, or the sophisticated charismatic character that he is normally portrayed as. The trailer feels like it a bit of both,but he’s also darker. This Holmes can plausibly be imagined as his own Moriarty. He’s a reminder of that other late-Victorian creation who continues to flourish as a popular archetype: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Holmes has been played by many actors all in their own way , the best for me being Basil Rathbone alongside Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson, in fourteen films from 1939-1946, as well as a number of radio plays. But for true Holmes fans Jeremy Brett is generally considered the definitive Holmes of recent times, having played the role in four series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, for Granada Television. An interesting version of Londons favorite detective can be seen is Billy Wilder's The private life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), as the title suggests, the film is rather more concerned with characterisation than plot, which although entertaining and original, is hardly an adequate stage to show off Holmes' exceptional talents. Instead, Wilder and Diamond start with the premise that "Watson's" stories for Strand Magazine were a little more lurid than the "reality" and use it to develop a more subtle characterisation than the "thinking machine" of the literary Holmes. The film was originally going to be 3 hours long but was cut down by the studios to 2.Even with an hour hacked out by the studio, this film has it all: the last of the great Wilder/Diamond collaborations, terrific acting, beautiful location filming, and one of the most haunting movie soundtracks ever, featuring Miklos Rozsa's Violin Concerto. Not merely a nudge-nudge-wink-wink pastiche, this melancholy film pays homage to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle source material while taking it to even greater emotional depths. And if that rip-out-your-heart-and-tramp-on-it ending doesn't get to you, nothing ever will. This is one of the great forgotten films of the 1970's, a perfect mixture of mood, character, and wit.


The strangest has to go to Peter Cook's portrayal, with Dudley Moore as Watson in a 1978 version of “Hound of the Baskervilles’’. Highlights include Holmes putting out a help wanted ad for a "runner of errands" and getting only a one-legged man to apply;and Dudley Moores interpretation of Wastson as a high pitched Welshman.To be honest the film is terrible but no worse than Micheal Caines interpretation, can someone please tell me if that man has ever made a descent film. He has to be the most overrated actor in the world after Tom cruise. In this version he of course plays himself. I half expect him to say to Watson, ' I only told you to blow the bloody doors off '


A short History of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and London:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859. After leaving school, Doyle studied at medical school in Edinburgh and Plymouth and also undertook exciting voyages to the Arctic and West Africa as a ship's doctor.Whereas Holmes had a distinct mistrust of women and remained a lifelong bachelor, Conan Doyle was always something of a womanizer. In 1885 he married Louise Hawkins, the sister of one of his early patients who would give him two children.

In the early 1890s Doyle and his wife moved to London the city he described in one of his stories as "the great cesspool into which the loungers and the idlers are irresistibly drained" - and immediately set up practice as an ophthalmologist. His first home was in Montague Place, just around the corner from the British Museum, and not by coincidence Holmes' first rooms in London were described as being on nearby Montague Street. Today Montague Street is still a quiet street of whitewashed Georgian terraced houses and small hotels. A delightful pub, the Museum Tavern, which features in one of Doyle's stories The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle still stands across the street from the main entrance to the museum.

One of his earliest written efforts was written for a Christmas annual and became known as "A Study in Scarlet" the first Holmes story. The character of Sherlock Homes was supposedly based on Dr. Joseph Bell, a surgeon at one of the hospitals in Edinburgh, who was famous for his powers of observation. The name Holmes was probably inspired by the author Oliver Wendell Holmes; the name Sherlock supposedly from a boy who Doyle played cricket with at school.

Throughout his career he frequently complained that Holmes had taken over his life to the extent that his other achievements were overlooked. Doyle became so fed up with Holmes that he killed his character off in one of his stories called "The Final Problem." However, public outcry over the death of Holmes was so great even Queen Victoria was reputedly disappointed that Conan Doyle was forced to resurrect the detective and then plausibly explain himself. His other achievements were impressive indeed he fought in the Boer War, was a staunch advocate of spiritualism and wrote many excellent historical novels.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died from a heart attack in 1930 and was buried alongside his second wife in Minstead churchyard in Hampshire, some 80 miles from London, the city that gave him so much inspiration. The inscription on his grave describes him as a patriot, physician and man of letters. And what of Sherlock Holmes' grave? To thousands of people around the world, Holmes is a historical figure, rather than just a fictional character. Although if Holmes was a real person, the whereabouts of his grave is certainly a mystery equivalent to any he solved.


Forever Yours

Lord Monty


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