June 3rd, 2011
My latest treasure from Ebay arrived by today’s mail: a DVD copy of the very first Sherlock Holmes movie, with John Barrymore in the titular role. Made in 1922, it’s a silent adaptation of William Gillette’s stage play, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
I haven’t watched it yet, but am very eager to do so. Not only because it promises to be the most palatable adaptation of A Scandal in Bohemia ever committed to celluloid, but also to see the screen debut of another favorite actor:
Yes, that callow youth on the left is none other than William Powell!
April 13th, 2011
It’s been more than a decade since my last serious foray into the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective. In my far-distant (at least it feels that way) youth, I was quite the enthusiast for anything and everything related to Sherlock Holmes. I read and re-read the stories, even attempting to employ Holmes’s methods, though I was usually stymied by the homogenizing effects of modernity.
I secretly enjoy listening to reruns of the Sherlock Holmes radio programmes (particularly the American version sponsored by Clipper Craft Clothiers or Roma Wines). But I could never quite bring myself to watch the movies or TV shoes. The old ones portray Watson as so elderly, pompous, and unattractive. The latest attempt was much too stylized for my taste — at least based on the posters that were plastered across the City when it came out. If they’d cast Adrien Brody as Holmes, I might have been tempted. Not that I am such a fan (I rarely like living actors), but he really would have been perfect.
My great love will always be Doyle’s stories, with the original Paget illustrations. What a world they created! If newspapers today published such things, I might consider subscribing. Are you listening, New York Times?
I just downloaded the collected Sherlock Holmes stories to my digital book. They’re all available for free from Google Books. What, you may be asking, has reawakened my ardor for the great detective? A friend and comrade in the New York Nineteenth Century Society is planning a weekend Bartitsu (the lost martial art practiced by Holmes) seminar in late July. I’ve signed on to help organize an evening lecture and reception at The Waystation in Brooklyn. You can read more about Bartitsu on my friend’s web site.
And of course, I will post details soon about how you can register to learn Bartitsu (or purchase a raffle ticket to win a free seat at the seminar) as well as information about the evening event — which will include a lecture, film screenings, and a costume contest!