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Stutley Constable

Here you may discuss the various incarnations of our favorite consulting detective and his Boswell.

Movies, television and radio have all taken cracks at presenting the canon in differing lights. Tell us which you think are the most enjoyable or the least palatable.

12/13/2014 #1
TemporarilyAbaft

Okay. Let's get down to business. *makes chopping motion with hands* Are there any other Livanov fans here? Because he is very nearly my favorite Sherlock Holmes.

12/14/2014 #2
Stutley Constable

My preference was Jeremy Brett followed closely by Basil Rathbone. I've only seen pieces of Livinov's work. Livinov did well, but I thought he laughed a little too easily.

Have you seen any of the new Russian Holmes episodes? They are an interesting variation on the theme, though they are VERY Russian. The actors don't look English and Holmes dresses like a peasant intellectual, though Watson dresses very like I imagined him in the stories. Odd that.

12/14/2014 . Edited 6/24/2015 #3
TemporarilyAbaft

Livanov was definitely a happier Holmes - not quite so much as Ronald Howard - what with the laughter and the avoidance of the cocaine issue; I think that's what may have appealed to me. That, and when I went back to read Study in Scarlet, I was struck by the fact that Holmes had a more developed sense of humor than I'd remembered. So, when I saw it reflected in Livanov's portrayal, I was like, "... OH." I do really love Rathbone as well! Although, confession time: it took me a while to get up the courage to watch them because, frankly, I thought I would hate them; Nigel Bruce just seemed like such a weak Watson from the clips I'd seen, I couldn't imagine being able to tolerate it. Then, of course, I watched them, realized that Watson was not as 'useless' as I had thought his portrayal would be, and of course that Rathbone is gold.

12/14/2014 #4
Stutley Constable

Rathbone and Bruce in 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' were very close to the canon. Also in 'Pursuit to Algiers' they were very good, Watson was far less bumbling than in a few other movies. I have certainly seen worse portrayals.

If I can find some of the Livanon episodes with English subtitles I'll watch them. It's better, I think, to actually watch a show before passing judgment.

12/14/2014 #5
TemporarilyAbaft

Oohoohoohooh! Not the best solution (the links on youtube appear to have absolutely vanished) but there are these (sorry for the by-way to my tumblr page). They're interesting, because there were only a few films. And, of course, they took occasional liberties. The parts that follow the stories are exact. But a lot of times, the films are mash ups of different cases. For example, Scandal in Bohemia is shown alongside Sign of Four (Treasures of Agra, i.e., the boys become love-struck puppies [except, obviously, Holmes, who neeeeever shows emotion, nope, not ever, not him, Watson stop suggesting that]). So, it's a literal adaptation - if you have a few too many beers and jumble up the pages of an old copy of the complete cannon (and throw a few out).

Also, if anyone is interested in seeing a foreign adaptation that explores the theory regarding Watson as an unreliable narrator, the new Russian Sherlock Holmes was subbed and is available on youtube. I was very skeptical at first, but with each episode I become more and more hooked. It's really interesting! Just... keep an open mind.

12/14/2014 #6
Hades Lord of the Dead

I'm making my way through the Russian Sherlock Holmes, as my friend who is from Azerbaijan, got me the whole DVD set for my birthday in September. I'm studying A-Level Russian so I find it really interesting to watch it not only in terms of the adaptation, but also of the context of Russia at that time. I really REALLY love it so far - also if anyone is interested to hear Vasily Livanov singing (I absolutely adore his voice) he was in a Russian show called Cheburashka, where he voiced a character named Crocodile Gena, and sang something called "The Birthday Song". It's really famous in Russia, and I just find it fun given I've heard him as Holmes.

I've got to admit although I have the entire series of the Basil Rathbone series (another birthday present from a few years ago I think) I don't enjoy them as much as other adaptations, due pretty much entirely to Watson's idiocy in them... as Stutley said there are a few moments where he redeems himself, but I really do find it more fascinating when Holmes and Watson have a more equal footing.

And thank you for linking the the new Russian Holmes!! Have wanted to watch it for a while but wasn't really sure where to find it! Will take a look :)

12/15/2014 #7
Stutley Constable

It's great that you've got the episodes at your fingertips, so to speak, TemporarilyAbaft, but just to be on the safe side, in future would mind displaying the address instead of compressing it into a word? While I trust you, someone else we've never heard of might pop on, introduce themselves and post a blind link taking folks to who knows where. Don't worry about editing your post. Just for future reference.

I started to watch one of the Livanov episodes last night, but I was too tired. I'll go back later today, I'm sure. The production quality certainly looks as good as the Granada series'.

12/15/2014 #8
TemporarilyAbaft
Of course, apologies! The Soviet films can sometimes be a bit dry, but they definitely present some quality. I hope you guys like them; I'd love to see more conversation about both the old and new Russian Sherlock Holmes adaptions. Has anyone had a chance to listen to the Bert Coules radio adaptions? I bought an episode or two off of iTunes - I wish they were more accessible because the ones I've listened to are really good!
12/15/2014 #9
Hades Lord of the Dead

Don't know anything about them! Any good?

12/15/2014 #10
TemporarilyAbaft
Definitely! Bert Coules wrote some pretty faithful scripts. While the dialogue is not always exact, it seems to always be in character. Clive Merrison is Sherlock Holmes, and he sounds like Holmes after he's been jacked up on coffee and left to fidget about the crime scene. Michael Williams is the classic long-suffering Watson, although more on the fiery protective side than the kindly-bumbling end of the spectrum. Both have beautiful sarcastic moments, at least in the stories I've been able to listen to. If you can find a copy that doesn't cost your left kidney, I recommend it.
12/15/2014 #11
Stutley Constable

I've never heard of Bert Coules' adaptations, but I do have the Mutual Broadcasting System's radio adaptations. They feature John Stanley as Sherlock Holmes and Ian Martin and Wendall Holmes as Dr. Watson. They are pretty well done and It's really neat to hear the old commercials.

I also have a copy of 'A Baker Street Dozen' starring Sir John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson as Holmes and Watson, respectively. Orson Wells also makes a guest appearance as Professor Moriarty. This collection includes my favorite version of 'The Blue Carbuncle'. The "bet" scene is priceless.

12/15/2014 #12
Stutley Constable

I just watched Peter Cushing in 'A Study in Scarlet'. Though he and his costar, and pretty much everyone else, were a little too old for their parts, the movie was quite good.

One detail caught my eye. Very few of the film or television adaptations have gotten the correct model for Watson's service revolver. I can't be certain, but I think this one was using an Adams .450. It's one of two models Watson could have used.

Addendum:

And this morning I watched the 1983 version of 'The Sign of Four' starring Ian Richardson. Not a bad adaptation of the story and Richardson did a creditable job as Holmes. Some of you may remember him from the series 'Murder Rooms' in which he portrayed Dr. Joseph Bell who was the real life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

There were a lot of interesting details in the background for anyone looking for them. Most notable was the harpoon from 'The Adventure of Black Peter'.

The film is definitely worth watching.

12/20/2014 . Edited 12/21/2014 #13
mrspencil

Having read through this thread, I realise how many different versions of the series I have yet to have a look at. I wondered if any of you had seen any stage versions of the adventures? I saw a production of Hound of the Baskervilles, with just 4 cast members...Holmes, Watson, and everyone else played by the remaining 2. A very clever set, and a lot of quotes from other tales were included, Laura Lyon's scene with her type writer had the words of that chapter projected onto a plain background, with the letters dropping to the floor as the scene progressed. Quite quirky, but fun to watch.

1/3/2015 #14
Ancalime8301

Yes, the Bert Coules radio programs are fantastic! They did one of my absolute favorite adaptations of Final Problem, and their Devil's Foot is excellent as well.

Try your local public library and/or ask a librarian about borrowing a copy of the discs--my public library in Maryland had the entire set! It is also possible to obtain the files in less than legal fashion, if you're a torrenting type. *cough*

1/3/2015 #15
Hades Lord of the Dead

I've never seen any SH stage adaptations, although have listened to many of the songs from the musical online...

1/4/2015 #16
mrspencil

This one worked well, set in correct period...but Watson was in a red suit most of the time...no idea why.

1/4/2015 #17
mrspencil

This was the production...

www dot manchesterconfidential dot co dot uk/Entertainment-and-Sport/Theatre-and-Comedy/Hound-Of-The-Baskervilles-Review

1/4/2015 . Edited by Stutley Constable, 6/24/2015 #18
tripleransom

Oh, wow! What a great idea! I never thought of Interlibrary loan to get those Bert Coules discs. In fact, maybe I should take a look at my county library system (although I'll bet they don't have them) A friend of mine has also posted many of them online - somewhere - If anyone wants them tht way, ask and I'll find the link.

Also, is there anyone else here who loves The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes as much as I do? I thought Robert Stephens was fantastic and the whole ballet scene was comedy gold. And Christopher Lee's Mycroft was absolutely chilling. you got the impression he would be capable of using anyone and anything to further his goals.

1/4/2015 . Edited 1/4/2015 #19
Rachel Indeed

I'm also a fan of Private Life -- it was one of the first Holmes films I ever saw, and I agree that Stephens does a lovely job as Holmes, Lee is wonderfully memorable and unexpected as Mycroft, and I'm even fond of Blakely's Watson. Even though he's still playing the role a bit too heavily on the "comic relief" side for my taste, he also injects more gentle moments of concern for Holmes into the performance. And I will always love his withering rejoinder: "You are the most illogical man I have ever met. How can it be a figment of my imagination, when for years you have been telling me that I have no imagination whatsoever?"

If I recall correctly, Christopher Lee once said that playing Mycroft was his favorite role (out of all the hundreds of parts he's played!), because he was so thrilled not to be typecast and to have a director who just said - I think you're right for this and you can do something interesting with it. I'm delighted he remembers the film so fondly.

I also love Miklos Rosa's gorgeous score for the movie -- that violin melody is embedded in my head as the definition of what 'Sherlockian' sounds like. It turns out that Rosa adapted the film score from a much longer symphony which he was writing; I've heard the full symphony, and it's lovely.

Speaking of fun films, does anyone here like Murder by Decree? The film itself is weird and grisly (unsurprising, given that it's about the historical Ripper murders) but I get a big kick out of James Mason's Watson, especially. He's just so unflappable, and they make him unusually competent for a pre-Granada adaptation. And Holmes clearly adores him. They laugh together a great deal in this film, and Mason has a wonderful deadpan delivery.

Watson: "Holmes, once again you're dashing off without telling me where you're going or what our objective is."

*Holmes answers with details that mean nothing to Watson or the audience*

Watson: "Oh. Now we know."

I also love that, when police are rushing to support Holmes after a horrifying final battle, the only thing Holmes says to them is: "Watson. Help Watson."

1/13/2015 . Edited 1/13/2015 #20
Starluff

I considered watching Private Life once but was turned off because it has a sad ending. Not that that is any reason to not watch something but you know. Maybe when my tests are done.

Ooh ooh, Tripleransom can I has? I've never listened to a Holmes radio adaptation before.

*Raises hand* I'm also a Livanov fan! I love the scene in the beginning of HOUN when Holmes is all like, "Any good detective has eyes in the back of his head" and then Mrs Hudson says he saw Watson's reflection on the tea pot. So funny!

1/16/2015 #21
tripleransom

I found 'em. These were uploaded by FanFromFla to Media Fire several years ago. She didn't do all of them, but there quite a few. These are the Bert Coules Radio Adaptations. For a while, Tweedisgood was hosting a listenalong of these on her LJ every couple of weeks (with transcripts!), but we haven't resumed since the Christmas Hiatus and I don't know when - or if - we will start up again. I'll give you a shout if we do.

mediafiredotcom/?65rcbzktghk5t

They are zipped files, so you have to be able to unzip. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Trip

1/16/2015 . Edited 1/16/2015 #22
Starluff

Yay! \o/ Thanks; I'll tell you what I think once I get around to listening to them :3 Oh, and if you could? I would love to join in with you fellas in a listenalong!

1/20/2015 #23
Starluff

I finished listening to The Man With the Twisted Lip...and all I can say is that it is so British; it just oozes off of it! Funny thing is that I put the headphones into my sister's ears without telling her anything and she was like, "That's Watson, isn't it? He sounds like a Watson." Indeed he does. It was pretty much everything I want in a radio show: the voices were good (I loved Mary, however short we got to see her), the sound effects added a nice touch, and they played a short violin solo in the beginning XD And Watson made an excellent narrator. Thanks for sharing, Trip!

And how many of you guys have seen the new Russian series? Just watched the fifth episode. I would definitely say that it's not as good as the original but I have a soft spot for it because it doesn't do the original stories exactly, but twist them while still keeping many elements. I'm a sucker for those kinds of things. Oh, and there's a scene where Watson beats up Holmes. I think that at least one version of Watson deserved to beat up Holmes. The long-suffering doctor has taken his due.

1/26/2015 . Edited 1/26/2015 #24
tripleransom

Hi all!

Sorry for the short notice, but there will be a listenalong of the Bert Coules radio play adaptation of The Engineer's Thumb hosted by Tweedisgood on her LiveJournal at 8pm GMT today (Saturday, Jan 31). If you check her LJ account, there is a link to download the audio and a transcript in Word format, for those of you who want it.

We start sharp at the appointed time. Come, listen, and comment if you want to. Please do join us!

1/31/2015 #25
Starluff

Sweet! If RL doesn't throw anything weird at me, I'll so be there!

1/31/2015 #26
Starluff

I feel like chatting about Holmes stuff. Who has seen the new Russian series? What are your thoughts?

6/9/2015 #27
tripleransom

Hi there!

I've seen the first episode on a night when I couldn't sleep, (because I have bandwidth limitations and can only watch or download from 2-6am edt and the subtitles wouldn't come with the last time I tried downloading). I found it interesting, but I thought Holmes's mannerisms were awfully distracting. I mean, what happened to the ramrod straight posture and the 'catlike love of personal cleanliness' that ACD wrote about?

There were all kinds of nods to the Lenfilm series (the boxing match, the glasses) which were kind of nice and I liked the cameraderie between then, but in the end, I didn't feel like making the effort to watch more episodes. I adored the Lenfilm series, reading subtitles doesn't bother me, but they just didn't seem much like Holmes and Watson to me. I guess I have to agree with Livanov, who said "these guys are punks"!

Have you seen it yet? What did you think?

6/9/2015 #28
Starluff

I've seen the first, ah, four episodes? I think? Around that number and, no, I like it. I think Lenfilm is better but still, it has its charm.

For one, I have a deep and abiding love for when you take an existing story and put a twist on it; hence my love for AUs. That's part of why I like it so much; it's pretty much an AU XD. It's interesting the idea that Watson actually lied in his stories and Holmes wasn't as cool as he makes him out to be. Holmes is kind of adorable and, while you find it distracting, I find it interesting and endearing the way he always acts as if he's high on five kilos of sugar, the way he's always jittery. He pretty much acts the way I feel when I've spent the last few days at home sitting on the computer, pumped full of energy with no outlet: jittery, shaking, and moving too fast in a small space. Also, competent!Watson is always a plus for me -- they come close to overdoing it sometimes but not too much. You don't even have to watch anything but the scene where Watson beats up Holmes; that was nice XD. The mysteries, however, are a downside. They are...very complicated. For myself, I have a bad memory so by the time I reach halfway, I've forgotten what happened in the beginning, so I don't think I could explain any of the mysteries. I like the creativity, though; I think my favorite was the episode with Mary: it didn't make sense but it was cool. So that's good.

I think it's good, overall, though it definitely has its weirder moments.

6/9/2015 #29
Stutley Constable

If I'm thinking of the same series, Starluff, I've seen a few episodes. Credit where credit is due, they did a good job of mixing up the clothing seen on the streets of their London. Not everyone is wearing monochromatic suits and dresses. There is some real color in this series. Also, they made an effort to make the city look lived in instead of like a backlot which is a failing several productions have in common. One thing that really stood out to me, though, is that most of the actors really look ethnically Russian. Even if I did not know where the series was produced, I would still be able to figure it out from the features of the actors.

My personal favorite part of the series is how Watson stores his pipes in a bandolier which is a piece of military equipment similar to a belt only it has fitted pouches for rifle cartridges. I thought that was particularly clever.

6/9/2015 #30
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