Thursday, 7 June 2012

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes on a Gothic Horror Blog - why not, with Holmes & Watson miniatures already present in both Westwinds Vampire Wars and Empire of the Dead Ranges - I thought "Why Not".

It's a rainy afternoon - Hammer's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1959) is on the DVD, so my thoughts drifted onto why Peter Cushing is my all-time Favourite Sherlock Holmes Actors; and who the others in my "Top Three" would be.

Peter Cushing's Holmes was particularly authentic, with his gaunt frame and hawk-like nose - combined with his flashes of genius.

Peter's first outing as Holmes was in the 1958 made (released in 1959) Hammer version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (In which André Morell turns out to be the best Doctor Watson IMHO) which incidentally was the first Sherlock Holmes film to be made in colour.

Peter Cushing had a deep love for the Sherlock Holmes stories - and in the 50's he had become England's first real television star. Which naturally led to a Movie career.

Though Peter's performance as Sherlock Holmes is not the most famous (or infamous) as some other actors, doesn't mean that he wasn't a good choice for the Role.

Barring the height difference (which wasn't great, as Peter Cushing was 6 feet tall) he has more in common with Holmes physically than most actors given the role.

This excerpt is from "A Study in Scarlett" (which was Holme's first "outing") -

"In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller.  His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision.  His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination"

Combine his striking physical resemblance with the fact Peter was a huge fan of Conan Doyle - Cushing always insisted that his clothing was authentic, right down to his accessories (and the way he implemented them as an actor).

He will ALWAYS be Holmes to me - whether I am watching the Hammer Movie, the few remaining Episodes of the TV Series that remain, or his Portrayal of Holmes in 1926 in "The Masks of Death" (1984).

My number two choice is Jeremy Brett. Brett is considered by many people as a definitive Holmes (and quite rightly so) he played the detective in 41 television episodes during the 1980s and early 1990s, as well as shooting a TV Movie of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1988.

His interpretation of Holmes was extremely accurate, right down to the short, maniacal laughter and erratic hand-gestures. Both Jeremy and Peter had more than a passing resemblance physically to Holmes description (even though neither were really tall enough, with Brett being only an inch taller than Cushing at 6'1") - but like Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett had such a strong screen presence it didn't really matter.

Like Cushing, Brett favoured detailed research before tackling a role, this combined with the fact that Brett's personality was similar to the way Holmes is written in the Stories paid off in spades - he is now remembered by many as a brilliant Holmes with no equal.

My third choice, is beloved by many -  Basil Rathbone.

Basil Rathbone is remembered fondly by many MANY people as Holmes.

He is generally judged poorley by Holmes purists because Rathbone's Holmes is too much of a  gentleman, and not as eccentric and unpredictable as the Holmes of the Conan Doyle novels.

His first outing as Holmes was in the classic 1939 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles and an  instant hit as the character - so much so that that he went on to play him in 14 more Movies.

Rathbone's sleuth was kindly, direct, with a strong (but not silly)sense of humour - which made him instantly compelling and likeable.

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