Birth of an Irene

Publicity material for Sherlock Holmes (2009)

On November 17, 1978, Rachel Anne McAdams was born in London, Ontario, Canada. She began acting as a teenager in theater productions and earned a BFA in Theatre at York University.

In 2009, she appeared as Irene Adler in the film Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson (respectively).

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, the sixth film with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the roles of Holmes and Watson, premiered on September 17, 1943. After three films casting Holmes more as spy than detective (Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943), and Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)), Sherlock Holmes Faces Death marked a return to the mystery genre. The plot draws on “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual”, but with an added murder or two, plus some new characters, including Miss Sally Musgrave.

On February 27th… This Watson was a Woman

The actress Joanne Woodward was born Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward on February 27th, 1930, in Thomasville, Georgia. This famous actress – one of Chips’ favorites – played the role of Dr Mildred Watson in the underrated Sherlockian movie “THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS“.  As a Watson-like character, if not a traditional version of the good doctor, Woodward manages to capture the essential elements of Watson. Her role is neither canonical nor pastiche, but instead occupies some delightful middle-ground.

Information came from the volume A Curious Collection of Dates, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”). [Additional biographical information from IMDB –Selena Buttons]

Posted by The Dynamic Duo Co-columnists (JHWS “Chips”) aka Ron and (JHWS “Selena Buttons”) aka Beth. [You are far too kind, Chips! –Selena Buttons]

On February 15th… An Early Screen Holmes is Born

“Even a master detective may lose his heart.” [Lobby card for Sherlock Holmes (1922)]
Future famous screen Holmes John Barrymore was born John Sydney Blyth (or possibly Blythe, spellings vary) in Philadelphia, PA, on February 15, 1882. His parents, Maurice and Georgiana Blyth(e), were well-known actors under the stage name of Maurice and Georgiana Barrymore. John and his two older siblings, Lionel and Ethel, also took their parents’ stage name as they began their own theater careers. Generations of Barrymores have been famous actors, including John’s son, John Drew Barrymore, and grandaughter, Drew Barrymore.

The senior John Barrymore became famous for us in 1922, when he starred in the silent movie SHERLOCK HOLMES. (The film was released in the UK under the title MORIARTY.) John Barrymore said that his film, based on the William Gillette play would bring out the more romantic side of Holmes. (Alice Faulkner, the love interest introduced in Gillette’s play, was portrayed by silent film star Carol Dempster.) Any of our readers out there feel that is so?

In 1920, Barrymore starred in DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE. Reportedly, in comparing his roles in the two films, he said:

“Holmes is a purely static person: by that I mean a character with practically no emotions. It is naturally more difficult to play a man with no emotions than to play a man with emotions, and one must continually vary the character to make it interesting.”

[I can’t find any source for this other than a list of Barrymore quotations on IMDB; if you know where it’s from, please let me know in the comments! –Selena Buttons]

What do you think?

My source for this information comes from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N. Mahoney (“Tressa”). [Additional biographical and film history information from IMDB –Selena Buttons]

On February 10th…

February 10, 1932: Barrie Ingham was born in Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.

Who is that, you say? He was the voice of the character Basil the Great Mouse Detective in the Disney animated feature movie, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, adapted from Eve Titus’s novel, Basil of Baker Street. I loved this movie.

Information from the book A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF DATES by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”)


On February 9th…

February 9, 1979: The Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper movie titled MURDER BY DECREE premiered in the United States.

This movie starred Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes and James Mason as Dr Watson. It was quite a difference in ages between Plummer and Mason, but I think their acting skills carried it off quite well.


On February 8th…

This note is not Sherlockian, but is a note about the best non-Sherlockian tale written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That is, in my opinion, THE LOST WORLD. The silent film of the book premiered on February 8, 1925 for an industry audience at the Astor Theatre. Though silent, the dinosaur models were filmed in stop action motion and were fantastic, and still are to me.

Again kudos to A CURIOUS COLLECTION OF DATES by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime Mahoney (“Tressa”) for the information.


On February 6th…

February 6, 1922: Patrick Macnee was born Daniel Patrick Macnee in London, England.

He played Sherlock Holmes twice and Dr John Watson three times. You can have fun looking up where and when in film books, or I recommend A Curious Collection of Dates, a book by two JHWS members, Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime Mahoney (“Tressa”).

February 6, 1943: Gayle Hunnicutt was born in Fort Worth, Texas.

She played one role in the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series: that of Irene Adler, the woman. Her performance is something to watch again and again for how well she became the role.

Posted by Chips.

On February 1st…

Terror by Night 1946Something a little different today: rather than a Canonical happening, an event in the Sherlockian world 71 years ago today.

February 1, 1946: The world premiere of the film Terror by Night, the thirteenth film (of fourteen) in the Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

The film borrowed elements from Canonical stories, including poisoned darts from THE SIGN OF FOUR. The film also borrowed from “THE ADVENTURE OF THE EMPTY HOUSE” with the introduction of Colonel Sebastian Moran and the full name of the murdered first victim. The film lastly borrowed from “THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY OF FRANCES CARFAX” with the use of an oversized coffin that fits two people stacked up.

Watson was played in typical Bruce style, unfortunately. I liked the film – how about the rest of the Watsonians?

Weekly Forum #34

Mr.-HolmesMr. Holmes, starring Ian McKellen and based of the book A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin, has arrived at many theaters around the world at this point, so if you have seen the movie, I would love to discuss it with you. (Yes, there will likely be spoilers in the comments, so fair warning if you haven’t seen the film.)

Did you like it? What did you think of Ian McKellen’s portrayal?