Friday, February 19, 2016

A delightful Sherlockian surprise - 'Cottage to Let'

Once again in my quest to watch war time British films, I came across this pleasant surprise viewable at Amazon Prime for free.

Filmed in 1941, set in Scotland, a mystery/comedy spy intrique set on an estate with, as the title claims, a 'cottage to let'.

Early John Mills and an always excelletn Alastair Sims, along with a 15 year old George Cole carry the film.

Watch it to catch the Sherlockian connections.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From Watson came Robin?

As Batman co-creator Bill Finger noted, Gotham’s protector needed a someone to help him get out of his own head:
”I found that as I went along, Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That’s how Robin came to be. Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea.”


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

From pre-war cartoon strip to war time pin-up, pin-up to HOUN - The 'Jane' comic strip of Norman Pett - sort of a SDSH

As I am often doing research about WW2 and my dads time in service I often find some very fun things along the way.
And if they have anything to do with art or cartooning I find them even more interesting.
Most of the time these cartoons were used for either instruction manuals or as morale busters.
Some were sometimes used for both.
Bugs and Mickey even got drafted for duty during the war.

I came across one not to long ago that is a lot of fun.

Jane by Norman Pett started in 1932 as sort of a wager. And continued well after the war.
She did however do her part during the terrible conflict.

 Usually at some point in each strip Jane would end up in only her undergarmnets.
 However there was a point after the beginning of 1943 where she fell out of the bath completly nude and then that trend continued.
Pett's wife was his first model until she decided to take up golf (why you have to give up one to do the other I will never know).

She was followed by Chrystable leighton-Porter, who also did a strip show as Jane and would also in 1949 make a movie about Jane's adventures.

The Jane strip lasted until 1959 with a couple of attempts after that to revieve the strip in one form or another.

So, what does this have to do with Sherlock Holmes you ask?

Well in 1982 a young actress by the name of Glynis Barber brought Jane to life on TV.

Glynis would also go on to play the part of Beryl Stapelton in 1983 Hound of the Baskervilles.

So, there you have it, there you are.

S4E10 - Elementary 'Alma Matters' - Yawn. . . .

As we discussed last week, the plot is the same, but the names have been changed to protect the writers.

So, yawn on the plot this week.

This week it was mostly a family affair.
With John Noble at times basically playing Sherlocks father and brother.
Emotionally as his father, intellectually his brother.

This episode is once again consistent in that it isn't doing to much of what made the earlier seasons less enjoyable, and more staying true to this seasons approach.
But they do need to come up with some other plots besides rich guy (or gal) protecting crooked company.

The deductible observations this week could have mostly been done by anyone with computer skills and on only rare occasions did observation really have anything to do with the case.

Joan's detective skills once again took a back seat to Sherlock's, which is how it should be but may make Lucy Liu bored with the roll eventually. They will have to keep her  more involved in some way.

My favorite Canonical reference, and the only real one I spotted, was the cab driver who picked up a man who looked an awful lot like Sherlock. A possible and probable reference to HOUN.

So, for lack of something new, but not slipping into any real bad habits I can only fairly give this episode;

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mr Holmes - a wonderful journey

I am a little surprised this film has received so little attention in the world of Sherlockiana. I found it a wonderful surprise.

Based on the book 'A Slight Trick of the Mind' by Mictch Cullin, the film explores the mentally diminished Holmes as he nears the end of his life, trying to remember his last case that sent him into retirement.

As Sherlockians most of us have images of Holmes later in life.
Most also would not like to think of him with his mind failing, retired and for the most part alone in Sussex.
Better that he go out with a bang on one last case, with the only reason it wasn't recorded was because Watson had preceded him on that final journey.

This film finds Holmes at 93 seeking solutions to slow down his dementia. He is often times a crusty old curmudgeon, most times rude and impatient with his long suffering housekeeper. He is however not without humor and the subtlety of that humor provides some of the best moments of the film.

The film opens with a wonderful train scene as Holmes returns from a war torn Japan where he was seeking another remedy for his affliction.

As his dementia advances Holmes is trying to document that last case before he can no longer remember it's conclusions at all. A task he is finding very difficult.

While in Japan he is also reminded of another encounter he had had with his hosts father many years before.

The plots of either of the two cases has to take the backseat to the wonderful portrayal of the elderly Holmes by Ian McKellen. Mckellen does an incredible job of showing a man who is at one time fearful of his condition yet resigned to its outcome. His character goes back a forth between a complete Holmes and one who gets lost due to his dementia and the fear that goes along with it.
He is hansome as the aged detective in the flash back scenes at times reminding one of Brett in his precious manner and subtle humor. His time as flashback Holmes is very elegant.

The times when McKellen's Holmes was commenting on Watson's writings was a treat and not an insult like a modern version of Holmes does now. There was a respect to what Watson had down and much of what we now know as iconic to Holmes is treated with humor. I loved the line, ". . . penny dreadfuls with elevated prose.” And,  “an embellishment of the illustrator”.

His time as aged Holmes with dementia shows glimpses of a character we could recognize as Holmes fading in to a man who is lost in his own body.
We see glimpses of his observation skills, while realizing at times he can not remember the names of the people around him.

The film ends with Holmes if not finding redemption, then perhaps at least finding solace.

Ian McKellen's Holmes should go down as one of he best Holmes portrayals on film.

Milo Parker as the young Roger, son of Holmes' housekeeper, totally nails his part as the inquisitive young man who eventually becomes the elder Holmes' side kick and companion in bees. His performance is spot on without any of the over acting we often see in kids performances. His part is not big, but it does leave a big impression.

Hiroyuki Sanada as Tamiki Umezaki again gives a very subtle yet substantial performance.
I first liked his work in Last Samurai and once again he does not disappoint. I ended up feeling very sorry for his character because neither resolution to his 'case' was a pleasant one.

The cinematography is fantastic, as is the costumes and sets.

The film however is not without flaws.

Laura Linney as Mrs. Munro is under used and we don't get to explore her character enough.
However, some of her characters interactions with Holmes were very telling about their relationship and really helped with the explanation of Holmes' character and her desire to leave his service.

The performance by Nicholas Rowe as 'Matinee Holmes' is overly melodramatic for a Holmes film filmed at roughly the same time as Rathbones reign as Holmes. Or perhaps I should say that the film in which Rowe played the Matinee Holmes of overly melodramatic . I would have to say that probably had more to do with the direction of the film than in Rowe's performance skills.

It was however fun to watch McKellen's Holmes observation of the film.

I had read a few IMDB reviews of the film where the reviewer complained hope how slow the film seemed. Matter of fact that was usually the only complaint. If you compared it to a Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes then yes, it would appear very slow.
But if you considered the subject matter that was being dealt with, it was far from slow.

Like I said earlier, this should rank among one of the better Sherlock Holmes films that does not deal with the Canon.

Even on my second viewing I am enjoying it as much as I did the first time. Rarely does a film compliment a book so well.

For these reasons and many more I can fairly give it'