November 14th, 2004

Salt Precaution

"Don't be hurt, my dear fellow. You know that I am quite impersonal." -Sherlock Holmes

It's 6am and I wouldn't think about going to bed for at least another hour. I woke up at around 6pm on Saturday to find that a number of people on my LJ friends list had posted confessional or merely introspective entries (you really shouldn't blame yourself, by the way, Arina. I hope things go well with your friend.), which makes it my solemn duty to write about things that have little or nothing to do directly with me, in order to bring some balance to the universe.

But what!? I, write about something that has nothing to do with me? Well, of course I know that's impossible since everything I write has to do with me in that I'm writing it. And more so in this case for it shall be things which I, personally, choose to write about, thereby reflecting the course of my mind, and thereby rendering a sonar image of my personality.

Er, that's not a good way to begin.

I turn my attention now to one Arthur Wontner, the man who was vaguely Sherlock Holmes.

I saw him a couple nights ago in Silver Blaze, a movie made in 1937 in England, and released in America a few years later as Murder at the Baskervilles to capitalise on the recent success of the Basil Rathbone Hound of the Baskervilles. Even under the original title the movie featured Sir Henry Baskerville as host to vacationing Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Baskerville was one of several contrivances added to the original story "Silver Blaze", one of Conan Doyle's short Holmes adventures that appeared in The Strand. The more ludicrous being the presence of Professor Moriarty, who in this movie identifies himself as Robert Moriarty, in spite of the fact that his name had always been James before. The reasons given as to why the great mastermind of crime would concern himself with the theft of a race horse and the murder of one of its servant caretakers are silly, superficial, and paint Moriarty's character somewhat dull-witted.

But one thing that I noticed immediately about the movie was what an uncanny resemblance Wontner bore to the original illustrations by Sydney Paget (viewable here). The costumes for the film also seemed faithful to Paget's drawings. Unfortunately, physical resemblance was about all Wontner had going for him. He hardly seemed to care about the role, and played Holmes as someone who's already read the script, seen the outcome, and is merely enacting the scenes as a formality. A fairly common and sad mistake made with the Holmes character (made in lesser degree also by Rathbone, although at least he seemed like he cared about what he was doing) is to portray him as an omniscient, almost god-like character, who rarely seems perturbed by crime, let alone impassioned. Actors like Jeremy Brett knew that a man who keeps in his mind vast records of historical crime down to the smallest possible detail and has trained himself to not merely see but observe thoroughly is a man obsessed.

So I couldn't recommend the Wontner movie, although, being the Holmes fan I am, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to see the other Holmes films he starred in. On a side note, the man playing "Robert" Moriarty looked exactly like bloodlette's father.

I have other things to say. I finished reading Murder of Angels, but I'll wait 'til it's finished gestating in my skull before hatching my thoughts on it. It was a really good book, though, I'll say that.
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    Bernard Herrmann - "Sport and Iris" (Taxi Driver OST)