Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

I've had a thing for the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle's tales for as long as I can remember. Many Christmases ago I asked for (and received) a navy blue hardback volume of Sherlock Holmes stories. It was an abridged kids' version (I was a kid), but I read it all the way through several times. I don't know where that book is now, but it would be nice to have the volume that started my long-lived obsession.

Since then I've purchased (or have been given) several copies of The Tales of Sherlock Holmes and I dig into them every now and then. But what made those stories come alive for me are the old black and white movies that starred Basil Rathbone as Sherlock and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. All were made in the late '30s or early-to-mid '40s. What started out as old radio programs blossomed into movies...14 altogether and each one starred Rathbone and Bruce. I own 13 of the movies and am anticipating the 14th ("Pursuit to Algiers") to arrive on Christmas Eve.

You don't see these movies on cable much...even on Turner Classic Movies, except during the Salute to Basil Rathbone Week. Once, when I was teaching, I took a personal day of business (rather than call in sick) so that I could watch a Sherlock Holmes Film Festival on cable. I didn't get up for about eight hours except to get lunch or use the bathroom. I did not own a VCR in those days and not everyone did. Teachers got paid crap (and still do), so I couldn't afford to buy one that I could use to tape stuff watch it later.

Some say that the PBS version of Holmes (Jeremy Brett) is better and truer to the vision of Conan Doyle. Perhaps. I guess that's like saying that brown rice is better for you than macaroni and cheese. But I'm comfortable with mac and cheese and it makes me happy, and the same goes for Bruce & Rathbone. And on a rainy day, two out of my three sons will sit with me and watch. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.


Blogger CISSY said...

I'll have to admit that I've neither read an entire Sherlock Holmes book nor watched an entire movie depicting same. It's just one of my weird quirks -- British accents just annoy me (explains the movies.) Can't quite explain why the Holmes saga just didn't appeal to me.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Let's hear it for mac and cheese! Now I have to seek out these films. I've never seen them.

5:17 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I went with the hubby on a business trip to San Diego years ago when MTV Real World first started. I shopped and played tennis in the morning but then went back to the room. I got sucked into an all day marathon of the first Real World AND COULD NOT STOP WATCHING. Hubs comes back that evening to a completely dark room lit by just the glow of the t.v. and me in tears over Pablo's T-cell count. Puck was an ass.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

It's not technically Sherlock Holmes, but one of my favorite movies of all time is They Might Be Giants. George C. Scott is delusional and believes he's Holmes. Many references to the books and a really great story. I think you would love it.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Did you see the recent PBS (originally BBC) version with Rupert Everett? Different, but I enjoyed it.

(Then again, I may be biased because I've been in love with him since I saw Another Country in 1984.)

7:52 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I did not see that particular show, but I do agree that Rupert Everett is quite yummy.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Did you know that while on radio Rathbone and Bruce would occasionally swap roles unbeknownst to the audience? Pretty cool trick, hard to pull off on the screen though. Harpo and Chico Marx once did the same on stage too abeit not as Hilmes and Watson obviously.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Shrinking Violet said...

Okay - I get sucked in by The Thin Man series. Plus one other movie that starred William Powell and Myrna Loy called "I love you again". And to Debbie, I got sucked into Real World one season. Friends and I went to a "girls weekend". We ended up spending one whole rainy day watching Real World - I think it was Las Vegas. And, I'm going to go make some Mac N Cheese for dinner!

3:40 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I've been sucked into crap and gold: America's Next Top Model and The Flame Trees of Thicka, but no Sherlock Holmes. I'd be willing to give it a try, though.
And cissy, really? The accents annoy you? Shoot I get hot and bothered by the Dyson guy... ;)

8:57 PM  
Blogger Plain Jane said...

I watched 2 black and white movies last night... does that count for something? :)

9:12 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

It DOES count, Jane. Black and white movies are GOOOOOD! My recent "reality" obsession was "The Biggest Loser" I never missed an episode.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

I love the AMC and TCM channels, but I have not seen a whole lot of Mr. Holmes. I suppose I better go get the books.

Cissy - did you really mean it when you said you DON'T like British accents? Really, really? God, they make me melt and Aussies too.

10:18 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

I would stick around to hear a Britsh man read the phone book aloud. Once I saw Sir Anthony Hopkins being interviewed on Oprah. She pulled out the Yellow Pages and asked him to read a couple of ads aloud. It was totally sexy.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Rock said...

I just don't really understand how a post 100% consumed with Sherlock Holmes elicits at least three responses regardingMTV's Real world?

Party on Garth.

3:34 PM  

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