Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
Do you have a favorite type of book or movie?
So how did I develop my love of mysteries? It started with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in the movie series of the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps it was because Sherlock was always certain, always sure. He was always a gentleman with the ladies, always stand up with the men. And Dr. Watson as portrayed by Nigel Bruce seemed to be a bit of a lovable bumbler. It made me wonder why such a sharp man would want to have Watson around unless it was because Sherlock never had to work hard to understand him.
Since the movies with Robert Downey Jr. that was directed by Guy Ritchie, it seems that we are in the middle of a Sherlock revival. The BBC has a new Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch who lives in modern day London. Martin Freeman plays Watson as a wounded war veteran who pretends he wants a boring life but is energized with every case Sherlock drags him on.
In America, we have Elementary starring Johnny Lee Miller as the consulting detective who recently came out of rehab. His Dr. Watson is played by Lucy Liu starting off as his ‘sober companion’ but has now become his colleague. She, too, is excited about the cases Sherlock follows, but more importantly she cares about Sherlock as a friend.
In the movie starring Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, the time frame is in late Victorian England but we see the rougher and dirtier parts where Sherlock solves his crimes and finds relaxation through boxing. Law plays Watson as a smart man with a gambling problem who is frustrated by Sherlock and yet needs to protect the detective.
What all three have in common is that some of the layers of truly gentleman-like behavior have been stripped away from Sherlock. He is capable of having manners but he is so focused on the task at hand that using those manners fall by the wayside. This might strike some as completely rude behavior or perhaps a hint of Asperger’s Syndrome on the Autism spectrum. Some might call it being book smart and street dumb. I doubt that last remark because all three versions of Sherlock could take care of themselves if left on the streets alone.
In the kitchen is another matter entirely.
One thing I have been told is once you have seen Cumberbatch play Holmes, it will be hard to go back to watching Miller play Holmes on the CBS TV show. Well, I believe that one should not necessarily judge one version against another. You must judge how each version operates, you must judge the show by the rules it lives by, and if that version does what it sets out to do.
The goal of each of these new versions is to bring Sherlock Holmes to life with a modern sensibility of how people emotionally work. Two of these series makes it clear that Holmes uses hard drugs to find peace. All three show a man who is rude and abrasive but not totally devoid of human feelings. All three show a man who loves a challenging puzzle and works hard to solve it. All three show a man who has managed to attach one friend who is willing to go the distance for him.
To see that character fully formed is why I watch whichever version of the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes I can find.
Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.