So, tonight is New Year’s Eve–kind of the adult follow-up to Christmas. I don’t remember thinking much about New Year’s as a child, pretty much because my parents were all about us going to bed as early as possible. But by the time I was in middle school, we’d started to make a party of it by renting movies (and a projector, because they were reel-to-reel!) and eating a glorious amount of junk food. These were old movies for the most part, most of them made even before I was born, and we watched the same ones practically every year: “The Jungle Book,” with Sabu as Mowgli; an episode of “Flipper,” and once, “World of Wheels,” featuring Fabian–the narrator seemed to think we would know who he was.*
Our absolute favorite, however, was Laurel and Hardy’s “The Music Box.” We watched it over and over. We acted it out. We quoted it in appropriate situations, like, when we carried anything up the stairs. Even though it was, at the time, fifty years old, was filmed in black and white, featured a horse-drawn wagon, and less-than reliable electricity, it made us laugh ourselves silly. Every time. In introducing my kids to Sherlock Holmes I have found, to my disappointment, that only one child likes the Basil Rathbone films; the story is slower, and they really don’t like the black and white. But one day last summer, I managed to find “The Music Box” online. All three laughed themselves silly, and demanded to see it again.**
This year, something remarkable happened in the Sherlockian world: for the first time since 1916, audiences could see the legendary William Gillette portray the great detective in the silent version of the play, “Sherlock Holmes.”*** It was screened for audiences in Paris and San Francisco, shown on TCM, and offered on Blu-Ray–possibly to higher than anticipated demand, as the delivery date kept getting later and later…. Opinions on it have been mixed, story-wise. It’s a different sort of adventure than the ones we’ve gotten used to, and it’s more convoluted than the Canon. Holmes has a love interest.† The acting styles are, in most cases, different that what we’re used to–with the notable exception of Edward Fielding as Dr. Watson. That’s what I thought, anyway–I’d like to know your opinions.
And if you’re itching to play movie critic and haven’t seen the film, your 2015 just got luckier, because (as if you haven’t guessed), today’s prize is, in fact, a copy of “Sherlock Holmes.”
Unfortunately, I cannot find this on the European Amazon sites I use, so you will need an all-region player to view it if you do not live in the U.S.
But…if you’d like a chance to travel back in time 100 years, then send in your answer to this question:
Name five actors who portrayed Sherlock Holmes on stage or film before 1950–and who were not Basil Rathbone.
As always, send your answers via Twitter DM, Facebook PM, or blog comment! I’ll announce the winner in tomorrow’s post!
Congratulations to Noreen Pazderski, winner of the 1894 copy of Memoirs. This was a hotly contested prize, and answers included:
Philosophy and agriculture
Beekeeping (of course)
Writing up two cases (LION and BLAN)
Writing his book, “Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, With Some Observations Upon the Segregation of the Queen.”
Solving the occasional crime
…and (my personal favorite) Spying (see VALL)
*Yes, he was before my time, thank you very much (just 2 days older than my father). But he’s still around. Here’s his website: http://www.fabianforte.net
**You can find it here–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s4nVg_W_6Y
***Read about its discovery and restoration here: http://variety.com/2014/film/news/lost-sherlock-holmes-film-discovered-william-gillette-1201318659/
†Spoilers: It’s not Watson.