Throwback Thursday – Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1990)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back. 

This post first ran here back in Dec 2013


Here’s The Earliest Known Appearance of Sherlock Holmes On Film – Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900)

As we approach the return of the world’s greatest detective in one of his latest incarnations – the BBC’s Sherlock, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson – it seems perhaps appropriate to take a look at his earliest film appearance, 1900’s Sherlock Holmes Baffled.

shb2This 30 second short was originally produced for penny arcade machines known as Mutoscopes, which were patented by Herman Casler in 1894 and marketed by the American Mutoscope Company. This particular film was produced by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in 1900, though its copyright was not actually registered until 1903.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Mutoscope was atually developed as a competitor to Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope.The device can be seen in the picture at the right. The idea was that the viewer would drop their coin into a slot on the machine which would then turn on an internal light and by turning a small crank and looking into the viewfinder, the viewer could watch the associated film. In a way, it’s perhaps a bit misleading to call this a film per se, since it was not designed to be projected on a screen and actually consisted of individual image frames printed onto flexible cards attached to a circular core which revolved with the turn of a user-operated hand crank, however, since it was originally shot on film at a frame rate of 30 frames per second, the designation still stands. (Perhaps in cases like this, the more accurate term would simply be “motion picture”.)

As far as the actual film itself, according to Wikipedia, the director and cinematographer of Sherlock Holmes Baffled was Arthur W. Marvin (May 1859 – 18 January 1911), a staff cameraman for Biograph. The identities of the actors portraying Holmes and his adversary are unknown, and the film was assumed to be lost for many years, until it was rediscovered in 1968 as a paper print in the Library of Congress by Michael Pointer, a historian of Sherlock Holmes films. Again, quoting Wikipedia

Because motion pictures were not covered by copyright laws until 1912, paper prints were submitted by studios wishing to register their works. These were made using light-sensitive paper of the same width and length as the film itself, and developed as though a still photograph. Both the Edison Company and the Biograph Company submitted entire motion pictures as paper prints, and it is in this form that most of them survive. The film has subsequently been transferred to 16 mm film in the Library of Congress collection.

shb1Obviously, due to its short running time, there is no actual development of either of the characters involved, and the film really seems to only exist for the purpose of showing early bits of camera trickery, especially the disappearance/reappearance of Holmes’ adversary. As far as the identification of the central character as Holmes, well, that basically comes from the film’s copyright title card and its marketing.

Nonetheless, the film does have a certain distinction in being the first identified film portrayal of the character and by extension, also the first detective film.

Anyway, here it is, the world’s first taste of Sherlock Holmes as a film character.

(BTW, I need to give a special shout out here to Fritzi over at Movies, Silently for initially bringing this wonderful short film to my attention. If you’re at all a fan of the silent film era you should definitely be checking out her terrific blog as she has an obvious love for the genre and is consistently posting a lot of great content there. So, thanks, Fritzi, for all you do.)

Throwback Thursday – Nero Wolfe Part One

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

A while back I started writing about my favorite detective, but for various reasons I never got around to posting part two of this, something I intend to correct in the next few days, so I figured that rather than just referring readers of that part back to this I’d take the opportunity of Throwback Thursday to just go ahead and repost part one.

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My Favorite Detective (Part One) – The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe (1950 – 1951)

nero1Though I am, like most mystery lovers, a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, there has always been one character in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories who has actually fascinated me more than the famed detective himself. No, I’m not talking about his famed arch-rival Moriarty, though he is also a very intriguing figure, especially when one considers his actual “screen time” in the canon stories is so short.

No, the actual character I’m talking about is Sherlock’s “smarter brother”, Mycroft.

The main reason that I find Mycroft intriguing is that he is, at least in the Conan Doyle stories, a sedentary figure who appears to be even smarter than his more famous younger sibling, but who, as Sherlock describes him in “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter”

…has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right. Again and again I have taken a problem to him, and have received an explanation which has afterwards proved to be the correct one. And yet he was absolutely incapable of working out the practical points…

Mycroft, therefore, is a perfect example of what is known as the “armchair detective”. At least he is in the Holmes canon. For those of you who mostly know Mycroft from his portrayal in either the BBC’s Sherlock or CBS’s Elementary, Mycroft, probably to disguise his identity from viewers who know the canon and add their own “twist” or “surprise reveal” is portrayed as a much more active figure.

nero2Of course, Mycroft is not the first armchair detective in mystery fiction. That distinction probably goes to C. Auguste Dupin who was the creation of the man who is responsible for innovating so much of what are now considered standard detective mystery tropes, Edgar Allan Poe.

Neither of these two men, however, is ny personal favorite character in the genre of the armchair detective. No, that distinction goes to a man who unfortunately goes largely unknown to today’s audiences, even, I would say, to many of those who consider themselves fans of mysteries stories.

His name is Nero Wolfe.

Wolfe is the creation of mystery writer Rex Stout who not only created the character, but wrote 33 novels and about 40 novellas and short stories featuring the character. (The reason for the “about” there is because there are a few stories which Stout wrote for magazines or other venues and then either revised or otherwise changed and which were then printed in the new version or even, depending on the extent of the changes, as new stories.)

Wolfe first appeared in the 1934 novel Fer-de-Lance, and the last Wolfe story written by Stout was A Family Affair, published in 1975. One of the most interesting aspects of Wolfe’s adventures is that while Stout’s stories were written over a period of more than forty years, and they quite often reflected what was going on in the world around them – for example, during the years of World War Two Wolfe was quite often consulted by the War Department for aid in tracking spies, and during the 60s Wolfe’s adventures took place amidst the civil rights movement – the characters of Nero and his assistant Archie Goodwin never aged or really changed.

nero4Ah, yes, Archie Goodwin. Some people would likely say that Archie is the true protagonist of Stout’s stories, and while I won’t go that far, I will say that it is Archie’s unique voice which truly brings Wolfe to life. Goodwin acts as the narrator of Wolfe’s adventures, acting in much the same role that Dr. Watson plays in the Sherlock Holmes stories. He is the person who acts as the reader’s stand-in in the stories, though considering the sedentary nature of Wolfe – remember, he is an armchair detective – Archie is arguably more valuable to Wolfe than Watson is to Holmes. As a matter of fact, in their preface to a reprint of Stout’s book Too Many Cooks, mystery scholars Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor describe the relationship between Nero and Archie thusly:

First, Archie is not a friend but a paid employee, who acts as secretary, chauffeur, and legman to the mountainous and sedentary Wolfe. Then they differ in all important respects—age, background, physique, and education. Finally, it is impossible to say which is the more interesting and admirable of the two. They are complementary in the unheard-of ratio of 50-50. … Archie has talents without which Wolfe would be lost: his remarkable memory, trained physical power, brash American humor, attractiveness to women, and ability to execute the most difficult errand virtually without instructions. Minus Archie, Wolfe would be a feckless recluse puttering in an old house on West 35th Street, New York.

Personally, I think that Archie’s voice is the thing that makes the Wolfe stories stand out from most other detective fiction, even Stout’s own attempts at creating other detectives and characters. I’ve tried reading some of those other stories and have inevitably found them wanting, and in analyzing my reaction to them, I’ve become convinced that the reason for that is that they are missing the unique voice that Goodwin brings to Wolfe’s adventures. Archie, in his role as narrator, seems to be one of those “lightning in a bottle” creations that sets Stout’s Wolfe stories apart from his rivals.

nero3Okay, for now I’m going to stop there, before actually getting into the character of Nero Wolfe and the things that make him a truly unique character even when compared to other armchair detectives. Instead, I want to take a moment to focus on one of my favorite adaptations of Rex Stout’s stories.

As indicated by the word “New” in the title, The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe was not the first series to bring the detective to radio. That distinction goes instead to the 1943-44 series The Adventures of Nero Wolfe which first aired on the on the regional New England Network before being picked up for national broadcast by ABC. Next came 1945’s The Amazing Nero Wolfe, which featured Francis X. Bushman as the titular character.

By far, however, in my mind the best characterization of Wolfe on the radio came from the aforementioned NBC series The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, which aired on the network from 1950-51 and starred Sydney Greenstreet as Nero. Yes, that Sydney Greenstreet. The man who played Kasper Gutman (otherwise known as “The Fat Man”) in The Maltese Falcon and Signor Ferrari in Casablanca along with many many other roles.

As a matter of fact, Greenstreet’s portrayal of Wolfe is so strong that when I am reading Stout’s Wolfe stories it is his voice that I hear in my head as Wolfe. Who do I hear as Archie? Ah, we’ll get to the answer to that question in the second part.

nero5There are only two problems that I have with this series, and they are easily overcome by the love that I have for Greenstreet’s Wolfe. The first is that the series had no consistent actor to play the part of Archie Goodwin. Over the course of the twenty-six episodes which make up the series, the voice of Archie was played by actors such as Gerald Mohr, Herb Ellis, Lawrence Dobkin, Harry Bartell, Lamont Johnson, and Wally Maher. The other problem is that the series consisted of original stories rather than adaptations of Stout’s writings, though that’s actually understandable and forgivable considering the complexity of Stout’s plots. They would have been nearly impossible to shoehorn into an thirty minute radio time slot, so it’s for the best that the producers didn’t even try. Instead, the producers opted to emphasize characterization over plot, and while one could perhaps nitpick bits of that, the truth is they did a pretty good job. Again, I’d say as well as could be done in a 30 minute time slot.

The other bit of good news about this series is that out of those twenty-six episodes, twenty five are known to survive and are available to collectors as opposed to the two earlier series of which only one episode each is known to have made it intact to the current day.

So I think it’s time to quit talking about the series and give you a chance to give it a listen.

Next up: Part Two where we take a look at the character of Nero Wolfe himself, my favorite television adaptation of the character, and my favorite portrayal of Archie Goodwin.

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

Throwback Thursday – The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935)

Between this blog and my previous one, Professor Damian’s Public Domain Treasure Chest, I’ve been writing about movies for quite a while now. Because of that, there are a lot of posts that have simply gotten lost to the mists of time. So, I figured I’d use the idea of “Throwback Thursday” to spotlight some of those older posts, re-presenting them pretty much exactly as they first appeared except for updating links where necessary or possible, and doing just a bit of re-formatting to help them fit better into the style of this blog. Hope you enjoy these looks back.

Here’s one for you Sherlock Holmes fans out there from Professor Damian.

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Whodunnit Wednesday – The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935)

tt31There have been so many different adaptations, interpretations and reiterations of the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective that it is often quite nearly impossible to keep up with them. Wikipedia lists the first filmed Holmes story as 1900’s Sherlock Holmes Baffled, and since that time there must have been hundreds of different actors portraying the famed investigator right up to last year’s entry starring Robert Downey Jr. Some of these interpretations, of course, have been more faithful (and some more successful) than others. A while back, I wrote about one of my personal favorite portrayals, that of Basil Rathbone in the series of films produced by Universal Studios. Today I’d like to take a look at another, slightly earlier series of films which unfortunately have been overshadowed by those Universal films.

Arthur Wotner was born in 1875 and portrayed Holmes in a series of five films from 1931 to 1937. Of these five films, the first, The Sleeping Cardinal was, until recently, thought to be a lost film. Unfortunately, though prints have been found of this one, his second, The Missing Rembrant is still considered lost. nonetheless, the films that we do have show Wotner as a Holmes that is more cerebral than many interpretations, and who also definitely looks the part. Wotner is not as athletic as some of the later Holmes, relying much more on his deductive prowess, and that serves him in good stead in today’s feature, his fourth outing as the titular detective, The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes.

tt32Of course, a large part of the credit for this must go to the screenwriters who have hewn fairly closely to the original source material, in this case, Doyle’s fourth Holmes novel, The Valley of Fear. One of the trickier aspects of any Holmes story is that since he is truly smarter than anyone else in the room (unless, of course, his brother Mycroft also happens to be present), he has often already figured out the main puzzle of the story before the explanation of the situation is finished. That is why he works better in a short story format than in a longer work such as a novel or film, and why, so often, those longer works feel padded with action scenes or obstacles that do not really belong. In this particular instance, Doyle figured out a unique way to lengthen the story. Almost one third of the book is taken up by an extended flashback to Holmes’s client’s past as a miner in the U.S. The movie makers have kept this flashback, and though it does cause the film to drag a bit in the middle, it also gives the film a feeling of having more substance than other efforts at padding. On the flip side, the producers also felt the need to include Holmes’ arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty in the film, when he does not appear in the original story, but that change does not distract too much from the overall quality of the film.

Note should also be made of Ian Fleming’s (no, not the James Bond author) interpretation of the role of Dr. Watson. Instead of the bumbling oaf that Watson often seems, in Fleming’s hands we see a Watson that lets us understand why Holmes would have kept him around. After all, when compared to the brilliance of Holmes, anyone is going to seem second rate, and it is important to remember that Watson was not only considered a first-rate doctor, but also a highly trained military man.

There’s no embedable trailer online that I’ve been able to find, but here’s a clip from the first part of the movie which introduces not only Holmes and Watson to the audience, but also the detective’s arch enemy:

And now, the Skinny:
Title: The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes
Release Date: 1935
Running Time: 75min
Black and White
Starring: Arthur Wotner, Ian Fleming
Directed by: Leslie S. Hiscott
Produced by: Julius Hagen
Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian

 

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Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.

 

My Favorite Detective (Part One) – The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe (1950 – 1951)

nero1Though I am, like most mystery lovers, a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, there has always been one character in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories who has actually fascinated me more than the famed detective himself. No, I’m not talking about his famed arch-rival Moriarty, though he is also a very intriguing figure, especially when one considers his actual “screen time” in the canon stories is so short.

No, the actual character I’m talking about is Sherlock’s “smarter brother”, Mycroft.

The main reason that I find Mycroft intriguing is that he is, at least in the Conan Doyle stories, a sedentary figure who appears to be even smarter than his more famous younger sibling, but who, as Sherlock describes him in “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter”

…has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right. Again and again I have taken a problem to him, and have received an explanation which has afterwards proved to be the correct one. And yet he was absolutely incapable of working out the practical points…

Mycroft, therefore, is a perfect example of what is known as the “armchair detective”. At least he is in the Holmes canon. For those of you who mostly know Mycroft from his portrayal in either the BBC’s Sherlock or CBS’s Elementary, Mycroft, probably to disguise his identity from viewers who know the canon and add their own “twist” or “surprise reveal” is portrayed as a much more active figure.

nero2Of course, Mycroft is not the first armchair detective in mystery fiction. That distinction probably goes to C. Auguste Dupin who was the creation of the man who is responsible for innovating so much of what are now considered standard detective mystery tropes, Edgar Allan Poe.

Neither of these two men, however, is ny personal favorite character in the genre of the armchair detective. No, that distinction goes to a man who unfortunately goes largely unknown to today’s audiences, even, I would say, to many of those who consider themselves fans of mysteries stories.

His name is Nero Wolfe.

Wolfe is the creation of mystery writer Rex Stout who not only created the character, but wrote 33 novels and about 40 novellas and short stories featuring the character. (The reason for the “about” there is because there are a few stories which Stout wrote for magazines or other venues and then either revised or otherwise changed and which were then printed in the new version or even, depending on the extent of the changes, as new stories.)

Wolfe first appeared in the 1934 novel Fer-de-Lance, and the last Wolfe story written by Stout was A Family Affair, published in 1975. One of the most interesting aspects of Wolfe’s adventures is that while Stout’s stories were written over a period of more than forty years, and they quite often reflected what was going on in the world around them – for example, during the years of World War Two Wolfe was quite often consulted by the War Department for aid in tracking spies, and during the 60s Wolfe’s adventures took place amidst the civil rights movement – the characters of Nero and his assistant Archie Goodwin never aged or really changed.

nero4Ah, yes, Archie Goodwin. Some people would likely say that Archie is the true protagonist of Stout’s stories, and while I won’t go that far, I will say that it is Archie’s unique voice which truly brings Wolfe to life. Goodwin acts as the narrator of Wolfe’s adventures, acting in much the same role that Dr. Watson plays in the Sherlock Holmes stories. He is the person who acts as the reader’s stand-in in the stories, though considering the sedentary nature of Wolfe – remember, he is an armchair detective – Archie is arguably more valuable to Wolfe than Watson is to Holmes. As a matter of fact, in their preface to a reprint of Stout’s book Too Many Cooks, mystery scholars Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor describe the relationship between Nero and Archie thusly:

First, Archie is not a friend but a paid employee, who acts as secretary, chauffeur, and legman to the mountainous and sedentary Wolfe. Then they differ in all important respects—age, background, physique, and education. Finally, it is impossible to say which is the more interesting and admirable of the two. They are complementary in the unheard-of ratio of 50-50. … Archie has talents without which Wolfe would be lost: his remarkable memory, trained physical power, brash American humor, attractiveness to women, and ability to execute the most difficult errand virtually without instructions. Minus Archie, Wolfe would be a feckless recluse puttering in an old house on West 35th Street, New York.

Personally, I think that Archie’s voice is the thing that makes the Wolfe stories stand out from most other detective fiction, even Stout’s own attempts at creating other detectives and characters. I’ve tried reading some of those other stories and have inevitably found them wanting, and in analyzing my reaction to them, I’ve become convinced that the reason for that is that they are missing the unique voice that Goodwin brings to Wolfe’s adventures. Archie, in his role as narrator, seems to be one of those “lightning in a bottle” creations that sets Stout’s Wolfe stories apart from his rivals.

nero3Okay, for now I’m going to stop there, before actually getting into the character of Nero Wolfe and the things that make him a truly unique character even when compared to other armchair detectives. Instead, I want to take a moment to focus on one of my favorite adaptations of Rex Stout’s stories.

As indicated by the word “New” in the title, The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe was not the first series to bring the detective to radio. That distinction goes instead to the 1943-44 series The Adventures of Nero Wolfe which first aired on the on the regional New England Network before being picked up for national broadcast by ABC. Next came 1945’s The Amazing Nero Wolfe, which featured Francis X. Bushman as the titular character.

By far, however, in my mind the best characterization of Wolfe on the radio came from the aforementioned NBC series The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, which aired on the network from 1950-51 and starred Sydney Greenstreet as Nero. Yes, that Sydney Greenstreet. The man who played Kasper Gutman (otherwise known as “The Fat Man”) in The Maltese Falcon and Signor Ferrari in Casablanca along with many many other roles.

As a matter of fact, Greenstreet’s portrayal of Wolfe is so strong that when I am reading Stout’s Wolfe stories it is his voice that I hear in my head as Wolfe. Who do I hear as Archie? Ah, we’ll get to the answer to that question in the second part.

nero5There are only two problems that I have with this series, and they are easily overcome by the love that I have for Greenstreet’s Wolfe. The first is that the series had no consistent actor to play the part of Archie Goodwin. Over the course of the twenty-six episodes which make up the series, the voice of Archie was played by actors such as Gerald Mohr, Herb Ellis, Lawrence Dobkin, Harry Bartell, Lamont Johnson, and Wally Maher. The other problem is that the series consisted of original stories rather than adaptations of Stout’s writings, though that’s actually understandable and forgivable considering the complexity of Stout’s plots. They would have been nearly impossible to shoehorn into an thirty minute radio time slot, so it’s for the best that the producers didn’t even try. Instead, the producers opted to emphasize characterization over plot, and while one could perhaps nitpick bits of that, the truth is they did a pretty good job. Again, I’d say as well as could be done in a 30 minute time slot.

The other bit of good news about this series is that out of those twenty-six episodes, twenty five are known to survive and are available to collectors as opposed to the two earlier series of which only one episode each is known to have made it intact to the current day.

So I think it’s time to quit talking about the series and give you a chance to give it a listen.

Next up: Part Two where we take a look at the character of Nero Wolfe himself, my favorite television adaptation of the character, and my favorite portrayal of Archie Goodwin.

 

Classic Television Thursday #019 – Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Cunningham Heritage (1954)

holmes2Considering the perennial popularity of the character, I was rather surprised to find out that up until the recent CBS series Elementary, there has been only one American television series based on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Produced for syndication in 1954 the series, simply titled Sherlock Holmes, starred Ronald Howard as Holmes and Howard Marion Crawford as Dr. Watson. The series was produced  by Sheldon Reynolds and filmed in France by Guild Films.

holmes1A total of 39 episodes were produced. Most of them were original stories written specifically for the series, though a few were based, at least loosely, upon Conan-Doyle’s stories. Less irascible, but still with the unpredictable flair that is requisite in any portrayal of Holmes, Howard presents a relatively youthful and blithe portrayal of Holmes who retains a certain charm of character that is more relatable the infinitely obsessed and at times quite distancing modern interpretations. As Watson, Crawford, though clearly outmatched by Holmes’ keen powers of observation and deduction, is nowhere near the bumbling blitherer he was often relegated to in earlier Homes interpretations. As in the novels and short stories, this Watson is keen of intellect (and thus an appropriate companion for Holmes), who is simply outpaced by the detective.

All-in-all, this series is quite entertaining, and a worthwhile watch for any Holmes fan. Here’s the first episode, from October, 1954, “The Case of the Cunningham Heritage”. The first part of the episode, you’ll note, is a fairly straightforward adaptation of the first meeting of Watson and Holmes from A Study in Scarlet, though it does eventually veer from that plot into a completely original story.

The good news is that since this series has actually become part of the Public Domain, all of the episodes are pretty readily available for viewing, and have actually had a number of different DVD releases, as well as being pretty easy to locate on YouTube and are also available for download at the Internet Archives.

 

 

 

Classic Television Thursday #016 – A Classic Christmas Roundup

santaWe did it for Halloween, we did it for Thanksgiving, so there’s no reason not to do it for Christmas, too. Here’s a roundup of classic television specials and special episodes to help you get into the holiday spirit.

(BTW, I should go ahead and note that since Christmas actually falls on Thursday this year, there won’t be a Classic TV posting next week, but assuming I can find enough New Years episodes, I will be posting a roundup for that holiday too to help you ring in 2015 in the right way.)

Let’s start by seeing what the Nelson Family is up to for Christmas, shall we?

Here’s Andy with an even more home-spun Christmas story

Or maybe you’d prefer to head home with the Clampetts for the holidays

I suppose we should take a little time out for a word from our sponsor now, shouldn’t we?

Of course, it wasn’t just the comedies that recognized the holiday. Here’s a Holmesian take:

Dragnet shows us that crime never takes a holiday

And no matter what the time of year, you didn’t want to cross the Racket Squad

Time for another break, this one featuring John Wayne urging people to buy Christmas seals

Of course, we can’t leave the musicians out of the mix

Maybe you’d rather spend Christmas with Dolly

Or Johnny and his family

This doesn’t quite qualify as a television special, but when I ran across it, I knew it was so special that I had to include it. Here’s the description from YouTube: Produced by the USO for the US troops overseas, this must-see concert film features over 50 celebrities from stage, screen and TV in an evening of music and comedy. These stars include Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Lena Horne, George Burns, Jimmy Stewart, Milton Berle, Danny Kaye, Jane Russell, Gregory Peck, Kim Novak, Shirley Maclaine and many, many more.

And finally, I’ve shared it before because it really is an all time classic and in my book one of the funniest sit-com episodes ever made, so lets go Christmas shopping with Jack Benny

Merry Christmas, all!

 

 

Which Actor Portrayed Sherlock Holmes The Most Times In Films? The Answer May Surprise You!

He has that rare quality, which can only be described as glamour, which compels you to watch an actor eagerly even when he is doing nothing. He has the brooding eye which excites expectation and he has also a quite unrivaled power of disguise. My only criticism of the films is that they introduce telephones, motorcars and other luxuries of which the Victorian Holmes never dreamed.

Those were the words used by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself to describe the actor whose name is the answer to the question in the headline above.

sh_ellie-norwood_ACDFrom 1921 to 1923, Stoll films actually produced a total of 45 silent short (approximately 30 minute) films and two feature-length films starring Eille Norwood as the famous detective. These silents were actually produced as three series of 15 films each year (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Further Adventures…, and The Final Adventures…), and the two features (The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Sign of Four) were released in 1921 and 1923, respectively.

The films proved to be incredibly popular not only with movie goers, but also with critics, especially since they (with perhaps the unfortunate exception of The Hound) tended to stay very close to the source material. Again, though, even Doyle enjoyed the Baskerville adaptation, stating that

On seeing him [Eille Norwood] in The Hound of the Baskervilles I thought I had never seen anything more masterly.

Unfortunately, it appears that only four of these short films are still extant today, and they only seem to have been released as part of a couple of low quality public-domain-Holmes devoted discs, meaning that they haven’t been given anything like the kind of loving restoration they deserve. Nonetheless, I’m embedding three of them below in order to give you at least a taste of one of the few adaptations of the canon that even the character’s creator lavished such praise upon:

The Dying Detective

The Devil’s Foot

The Man With the Twisted Lip

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