Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sherlock Holmes: An Appreciation!!!!

This one time, the old professor in the crime scene house (the murder occurred downstairs - the prof's assistant) was a smoker; he had some particularly NICE ones which he was ordering and smoking by the bulkload, Holmes recognized, enthused over them as a tobacco aficionado - next thing you know, the guy's bumming cig after cig at Holmes, they're enjoying a nice chain-smoke together as Holmes conducts the whole interview pacing back and forth, puffing away like a spaz and gesticulating wildly, filling the whole fucking room up with smoke as he and the prof have their little talk. Watson was like "What the fuck?", basically.

The whole point of this big act (apart from to put the professor at ease with a show of unforced camaraderie) was so he could pop his back head in the door an hour later and see where the murderer had been hiding! The tracks were plain as day in all the scattered ash. She (the murderer) had been concealed in a cabinet or something. The professor knew it all the time - thought he had put one over on the great detective.


What a fuckin' weirdo that guy was, you know? A real jerk! Or what about the time he knocked the whole thing of fucking oranges over - and blamed it on Watson! Watson was like "what the fuck?" Still, Watson kept a cool hand, suspecting Holmes had a big fucking foot in the game as usual. Which he did. Which he always did. I can't help but love Sherlock Holmes, and his outré ways! Could it be because he is even as arrogant as myself?

It wasn't always so. Me and my love of Sherlock Holmes, I mean. I had a copy of the big ol' huge A. Conan Doyle collected, "Compleat" as it were - couldn't fucking get any headway through it at all! Why, it might as well have been the fucking Bible at that stage. At that age. I forget how old I was at that point, but I wasn't understanding the charms it had hath. (So to speak.) Anyhow, then years or decades later, I see the Robert Downey Jr. / Jude Law ones - fairly recent films.

Now, I'm the first to admit Downey Jr. looks nothing remotely like Holmes-as-described, OK? But I have to admit, his take on the role made a mark. And then when my eye chanced across that big ol' Conan Doyle doorstop kicking around, I said,"let's have another go, shall we?"


I tore through the whole thing in essentially, one sitting! Punctuated by several standings and a lying down, okay - but I assure you the book was open and continuously in progress more-or-less. Just, one's bodily needs, okay? You got to get yourself a cheese-grilled sandwich, you get yourself a cheese-grilled sandwich. Unlike Holmes, we the readers aren't necessarily compelled to ignore these little necessities, just because Sherlock's all hot on the scent and shit.

And you know what? It was Downey Jr.'s incarnation of Holmes that spirited me through those collected stories of Doyle's. All through that book and since, I just keep on picturing Holmes as Robert Downey Jr. Every time the story mentions or describes what Holmes looks like, I'll say to myself, "that's peculiar," then pass it by. I can't seem to picture Holmes another way, now. I think it's that wide-eyed look he gives us - that look of pretended innocence in some or another matter where we know full well Holmes is up to his tricks! Picturing Sherlock Holmes in his usual classically-depicted unimpressed bird-nosed long-limbed gawky asceticism just wasn't doing it for me. Who wants to hang out with that guy? I don't care how smart he is.

Without changing the peculiar nature of Holmes's character - his acerbity, his impatience with others and disdain for ordinary life, his delight in a challenge and in the exercise of his powers, his pride in advancing the so-called "science of detection" (basically just some bull shit he knocked together himself that nobody else can even do right), his instinct for the dramatic flourish, with all secrets kept for the big reveal - something about Downey Jr.'s take provided the key to the character for me. He made all these things click. With previous Holmeses, a lot of the time I just thought "this guy's a dick, but we need to humor him if we want these crimes solved." Basically you bite the bullet for the greater good. Whereas Downey Jr. makes that same cocktail of characteristics delightful! Delightful. I love to watch him work!

Mind you, I'm not saying a bad word about Rathbone. My mom would kill me. This Cumberbatch guy does a damn good job as well, but something about seeing Holmes running around modern London makes me say "Why not just put him on the Starship fucking Enterprise at that point?" It's not fucking Sherlock Holmes, man. A perfectly valid update/reboot, of course - putting a character in a different setting, hey, it's just done. It's one of those things they're allowed to do - whether I buy it or not. And if you're going to do it, best to do it well. In particular, I must cite the brilliant job they've updating and adapting those methods of observation and deduction. Holmes trains his magician's eye upon all modern details to deliver a classic performance each time, very much in tune with the original. A neat trick.

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