Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Possibly the best part of the new Holmes movie

The kids and I the new Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie at Christmas, and it was fun. Not great, but a lot of fun. RDJ was quite unconvincing as Holmes, but Jude Law was an excellent Watson, the sets were wonderful, and the movie was a lot of fun. But this post isn't about the movie.

One of the side effects of the studio pumping millions into promoting "Sherlock Holmes" is that a number of other products piggybacked on that advertising.

The Sherlock Holmes Collection is a collection of episodes from a 60's series that I had not heard of before. It stars Peter Cushing, who was a very respectable Holmes in Hammer Films' Hound of the Baskervilles, and does a very good job here also. Nigel Stock is a bit old for Watson (the influence of the Nigel Bruce portrayal, one supposes) but handles the character well.

Another excellent BBC series that was released this fall was The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes: Set 1 (Set 2 will be available in April). This early 70's series presents stories based on stories of other contemporary detectives, such as Martin Hewitt, Max Carrados and Dr. Thorndyke, and has a number of actors that we saw much more of later, such as Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons and John Neville. For a mystery fan like me, this is a gold mine!

For a nice range of Holmes movies at a reasonable price, The Sherlock Holmes Collection has three solid movies, the Hammer Hound of the Baskervilles, the excellent, Billy Wilder directed Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and the hilarious Without a Clue with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.

TCM showed the restored version of the 1922 silent Sherlock Holmes, based on the William Gillette play, and this version should be available soon for hardcore Sherlockians like me.

With the Holmes books in the public domain, Barnes & Noble and Amazon have new editions available for a reasonable price, including several versions for the Kindle. My favorite new edition of a Holmes book has to be Hard Case Crime's version of The Valley of Fear (cover shot below) which it lists as by "A. C. Doyle", and is "Based on a True Story", which is true, if a bit stretched. I am pretty sure that I don't remember "The Bodymaster" my previous readings of the novel. (You have to love the subtle placement of the "V"!)

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