A Study in Holmes

Sherlock Holmes statue

So now we have not one but two Sherlock Holmes films coming out, giving added credence to Doc’s excellent research into Sherlock’s Law, that two years must not pass before someone else attempts to make some version of a Sherlock adaptation.

In addition to the previously announced Guy Ritchie directed version (which will see Jason Statham in some role–we allege) now we’ve got Judd Apatow co-producing a Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) scribed Sherlock comedy with Will Ferrell as Watson. Which is all well and good, but the interesting bit is Sacha Baron Cohen as Holmes. Interesting because Will Ferrell is pretty much Will Ferrell in all of his movies. This is not a slight, as if you watch early Bill Murray, Bill Murray is almost always playing the same Bill Murray character–and it’s funny. But Cohen is like the comedic analog of Gary Oldman (who should really do more comedies IMO)–Cohen can do comedies all day long and really become the role, so you’re not really watching Cohen just like you’re not really watching Oldman. So Cohen becoming Holmes should be fascinating.

So we decided to take this moment (nay, excuse, let’s be honest) to throw down a bunch of Holmes interps. This is by no means an exhaustive representation of Holmes adaptations, because there’s a pantsload. But this will just give you a quick lunchtime’s worth of overview.

Here’s what’s supposed to be the first film of Holmes, entitled Sherlock Holmes Baffled, from 1900. And you will be baffled too when you watch this. Because it appears to be the first appearance of The Vanisher, which we had thought was an X-Men villain. You learn something new everyday.

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Willliam Gillette, apart from being well shaven, played the character on stage and was famous for it. Wikipedia states that he brought us the pipe and that hat, but Wikipedia has also, on occasion, stated that there is a large sponge at the center of the Earth. And that’s no way to talk about Brendan Fraser. So, we assume for the moment that they’re right. About Gillette, anyway. This video has an audio bit of Gillette as Holmes. It’s scratchy as hell, but it’s still rather cool. Especially if the vid is correct and this is all we have extant of his performance.

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John Barrymore played Holmes in 1922, but I can’t find that online. Here’s Murder at the Baskervilles from 1937, in which Holmes is played by Arthur Wontner and Ian Fleming plays Watson. Not the Ian Fleming you’re thinking of, though.

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Basil Rathbone as Holmes here from 1944 1945 (Update: Had to change it out, somebody removed the previous version):

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A more comedic take on the character, here’s a snippet of the trailer for Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes from 1970. It’s Robert Stephens in the role of Holmes here, but that’s Christopher Lee as Mycroft. Which brings up an interesting idea–if you were to cast a Mycroft against Cohen and Farrell, who do you pick?

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Here’s Christopher Plummer as Holmes, with Eddie Izzard as God–wait, no, James Mason as Watson.

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Young Sherlock Holmes is a favorite with many simply because of its concept. I’m surprised there haven’t been more films like this one made. Of course, there might have been–Sherlock’s Law certainly allows for such things. (Update: Alas, the trailer has been removed. If anybody finds again, let me know.)

Another comedic version here: Michael Caine played a bumbling Holmes hired by Watson (Ben Kingsley) when he realizes he needs somebody to play the fictional part of Sherlock for real. This is from Here’s the trailer for Without a Clue:

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Now, unfortunately, I can’t seem to find Jeremy Brett as Sherlock online. I mean, in anything that’s not a fan-made music video. So if anyone knows of a clip that’s online and not set to the melodious strains of Bon Jovi or ELO or something, please let me know.

Update: Found a clip:

Direct link for the feedreaders. Update ends!

So lastly, Peter Serafinowicz gives a different take on the sleuth that we probably won’t see in either of the new versions. Not for the Doyle purists, that’s for certain.

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