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Opening Arguments

I'll see Holmes for Christmas

Last year, my sister's intended trip to Fort Wayne to spend Christmas with me and mutual friends was thwarted by the weather -- you remember that lovely ice storm, don't you? So she came up the following week, and we celebrated Christmas on New Year's Day. That was such a good experience that we decided to start a new tradition, so we'll be celebrating the holiday a week late this year, too.

That means a Christmas day with nothing specific to do, so my friend and I are going to do dinner and a movie. Some Chinese restaurants will be open on Friday, as you might remember from a certain movie (fa ra ra ra ra!), and we found one near Jefferson Pointe. Neither of us are much interested in the excesses of "Avatar," and I think I've talked her into seeing "Sherlock Holmes," which looked intriguing from the trailer.


It looks darkly comic, and if it has at least a halfway good mystery, I won't mind all the crap they stuff into modern movies, and I'll probably even get used to Robert Downey Jr.'s British accent. Some critics are saying that Holmes purists might be dismayed, but there's really not much to be a purist about:

Except that the most faithful followers of Holmes know that his legacy is already a mishmash of invention and reinvention. Take those deerstalker hats. Almost nothing is more associated with Holmes than the checkered twill cap with brims in front and back and a pair of ear flaps on the sides. In Doyle's stories, however, there is precious little evidence that Holmes ever wore such a thing. It entered the popular imagination because of Sidney Paget, a magazine illustrator whose work accompanied Doyle's fiction.

Doyle himself would have had mixed feelings about the rebooted Holmes. He suffered from a love-hate relationship with the character whose name has eclipsed his own. A market-minded author, Doyle certainly appreciated the goal of putting Holmes in front of large audiences. Yet he almost resented the runaway success that made him the most celebrated writer of his time.

Posted in: All about me, Film


Bob G.
Wed, 12/23/2009 - 10:49am

I admit to having been a "Holmesian" for quite some time, and this is a must see, just for the period aspect of it.
And I think you nailed it with the "darkly-comedic" slant.

BTW, TCM will be showing the Sherlock Holmes series of features w/ Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce this weekend...and it's an "all-nighter"...so keep the coffee coming, eh?

Bob G.
Wed, 12/23/2009 - 10:50am

Almost forgot...Conan Doyle also penned the novel "The Lost World".

(but you knew that already, right?)


Wed, 12/23/2009 - 3:52pm

Holmesian? I thought the term was Sherlockian. Whatever.
Being a nitpicker, I think Downey is physically wrong for the part. Conan Doyle routinely described Holmes as tall and painfully thin, a sort of cerebral Ichabod Crane.
Who was the guy who played Holmes on the PBS series a few years back? Jeremy somebody. He looked exactly right.
Oddly, Holmes was not much like his ultra-rational alter ego. Conan Doyle frequented seances and was taken in by the simplest magicians' tricks. Houdini demonstrated to his friend how the mediums faked their miracles, but Conan Doyle never lost his gullibility about the supernatural.

Bob G.
Wed, 12/23/2009 - 4:33pm

(Jeremy BRETT - PBS, and William Gilette FIRST portrayed the sleuth on STAGE)
Got one more nit than you can pick, btw.

Kevin Knuth
Wed, 12/23/2009 - 6:39pm

I am a huge Holmes fan as well- and I don't think I can watch this movie. I saw a preview and it appears Holmes uses a Taser like device on a bad guy.

Jeremy Brett was the BEST Holmes ever!

Wed, 12/23/2009 - 8:24pm

Brett! Yes! Thank you Bob.
He really was first class as Holmes. Died young, as I recall. Mrs. littlejohn and I never missed an episode.
PBS - an excellent use of our tax dollars! Now if we can just get a federal requirement that everyone drive a Volvo, the socialist takeover will be complete!

Leo Morris
Thu, 12/24/2009 - 10:08am

I'm kind of a Basil Rathbone fan myself, though that's the kind of argument that can never be won. Just call me a traditionalist. My sister is a huge fan of the George C. Scott version of "A Christmas Carol," which I just can't fathom. The 1938 version with Reginald Owen is still the best, but the 1951 remake with Alastair Sim is pretty good. And if you think the Patrick Stewart version is anything but awful, I don't even want to talk to you.

Bob G.
Thu, 12/24/2009 - 10:24am

I also enjoyed the Rathbone series (on AMC this weekend, BTW), and I find Scott's Scrooge a bit ponderous, although the actors supporting him fill some of the gaps.
The Sim version (imho) is the best, and if you happen to have the COLORIZED verison as I do, it makes it better by far (feel free to stop by and watch it).
Stewart's version lacked the range of emotion that Sim had, not to take anything from the captain of the Enterprise. I found Stewart to be less "evil" and more pompous.
There needs to be a balance between the two to allow Scrooge to really come to life.
But hey, I ain't no Roger Ebert (thank goodness).

In that era, there was one NIKOLA TESLA who experimented with electricty on many levels...I "think" (having not seen the movie) that this may be an offshoot of "his" technologies...just a wild guess, but it carries some weight.
Call it dramatic license...lol

Have a great Christmas, Leo.
Now, if you're wanting of some REAL "eggnog"...


Kevin Knuth
Thu, 12/24/2009 - 11:35am


I am such a Holmes fan, I hate when folks take "license" with the stories.


that is the same reason I would put Basil 2nd on my list- the stories varied too much from the books.

The BBC versions with Jeremy Brett were right on target!