Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Vs. Hollywood

OFTEN, i wonder aloud how it is that certain authors -- john updike and donald westlake are two recently deceased masters who come to mind -- have been either overlooked or royally screwed up onscreen.

with the sherlock holmes novels and stories of arthur conan doyle, the phenomenon is the opposite: holmes is not only thought to be the most adapted character in history (200-some films with 70-or-so actors), some of these films have been quite good.

but it's been a long time since there's been a major holmes movie -- my generation has only musty memories of the great rationalist/sleuth/wit/morphine addict.

so it's intriguing and possibly exciting that TWO new holmes adapts seem to be coming down the pike, with guy ritchie's film starring robert downey jr. (!) and jude law coming in christmas, and a comedy starring sacha "borat" baron cohen and will ferrell coming next year, though the studio seems to be in confusion on this one.

HERE is my story in today's LATimes, for which i spoke to ritchie, producer joel silver, a very serious conan doyle fan, and champ literary critic michael dirda.

i must admit: i grew up in a house with calvino and chandler on the shelf, but no conan doyle, at least i dont think so: unlike a lot of kids, i NEVER read this stuff. in the last few months, knowing this story was coming up, i have delved into the holmes stories and novels and it's been a real pleasure.


Scott Monty said...

Thanks for the thoughtful piece on the new cinematic Holmes. I believe that it will bring a new wave of readers and enthusiasts to the timeless stories.

FYI, the Baker Street Irregulars are not a "fan group," as you call them, but rather a literary society. In fact, the BSI is the oldest literary society dedicated to the study of Sherlock Holmes.

Scott Monty, BSI
The Baker Street Blog

Scott Timberg said...

literary society, fan group -- these days the lines have blurred. i dont see any shame in either term!

Jim Goodman said...

wow, I respect your comments, but, how could you have left out the BEST 'funny' Sherlock Holmes movie, by a long shot, "Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother", late 1970's, Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom Deluise ?, thoroughly enjoyable, and evidently rarely publicized, which is weird, since everyone i show it to, loves wishes, J

Cicely said...

and you really liked the Sherlock Holmes stories? I recently read the first two or three and I found them interesting only as a stage in the evolution of the detective novel. I think later writers such as Agatha Christie and P.D. James give the modern reader more to think about ... Sherlock Holmes is all about watching him (through Watson's eyes) make these fantastic deductions based on evidence that you, the reader, are not privy to. So you're kind of locked out of the process - I didn't find the stories very engaging. Plus, Sherlock is kind of an egotistical (if brilliant) jerk.