ALEX KANE’S VIEWER & LISTENER
A Preview & Guide For October 29th – November 4th, 2011.
“Can I be of assistance?”
With Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk being published on November 1st, it would be worth keeping an ear out for Front Row (BBC Radio 4, Monday-Friday at 7.15pm) and Open Book (BBC Radio 4, Sunday at 4pm; repeated on Thursday at 4pm).
BBC Radio Ulster’s (FM 92.7-95.4, MW1341) Book Programme (Sunday at 1.30; repeated on Thursday at 7.30) has an interview with Horowitz. You can also listen to this programme live online. www.bbc.co.uk/radioulster
NB: Horowitz is in Belfast on November 2nd and I will be interviewing him. The interview will be posted on this site shortly afterwards.
I have also read the book and will post a review at the same time.
The Woman in Green, 1945 (TCM on Sky 317/Virgin 415 at 5.30pm; and Sunday 30th at 9.20am) This was the 11th in the 14 Rathbone/Bruce series and is clearly not one of the best. Moriarty—already killed off in two other films—was back, this time played by Henry Daniell (Rathbone’s favourite Moriarty, by the way). And after the success of Gale Sondergaard as Spider Woman the previous year, we have the lovely Hillary Brooke as Lydia Marlowe, the Woman in Green.
It’s a terribly convoluted plot centred on what are supposedly “the most atrocious murders since Jack the Ripper.” But it’s worth watching for the confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty: “We’ve had many encounters in the past. You hope to place me on the gallows. I tell you I will never stand upon the gallows. But, if you are instrumental in any way in bringing about my destruction, you will not be alive to enjoy your encounter.”
Sherlock Holmes v Dracula (BBC Radio 4 Extra on Freeview 708/Freesat 708/Sky 0131/Virgin 910 at 6am and 4pm) Adapted for radio by Glyn Dearman from Loren D. Estleman’s 1978 novel, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, this was first broadcast on December 19, 1981. It’s an acquired taste and very much over the top, but it’s actually a very enjoyable romp.
John Moffatt (much better known for playing Poirot in a series of BBC Radio dramatisations) is an understated Holmes, but Timothy West, as Watson, veers too much towards Nigel Bruce for my liking.
SherlockHolmes and the Secret Weapon, 1943 (TCM at 11.05pm) A much more satisfying film than The Woman in Green, this is the one about the spies and the missing bombsights. Some nice work from Lionel Atwill as Moriarty (and yes, this is one of the films in which he dies!) and Dennis Hoey’s first outing as Lestrade. Henry Daniell had a very small part in this one.
Tuesday, November 1st
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939 (TCM at 5.00pm; and Wednesday 2nd at 6.50am) One of the all-time greats and I also score it over the Rathbone/Bruce Hound of the Baskervilles made a few months earlier. 20th Century-Fox had been happy to invest heavily and the production standards were very high. Rathbone and Bruce were also settling nicely into their roles—although I still have concerns about how Watson was portrayed!
George Zucco was an excellent Moriarty: “Holmes…I’m going to break you. I’m going to bring off right under your nose the most incredible crime of the century, and you’ll never suspect it until it’s too late. It’ll be the end of you, Sherlock Holmes.” To his credit, he made Holmes work for his money in this one!
Even though the film did well at the box-office, the company got cold feet and decided that Holmes was too old-fashioned and out-of-place for a world which had gone to war again. Universal Pictures stepped in, picked up the rights, updated Holmes and had him fighting the Third Reich in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror in 1942.
Sherlock Holmes, 2009 (Sky Action/Adventure on Sky 305/HDVirgin405/Virgin 435 at 12.10 and 9.45pm) While Robert Downey Jnr gives us a Holmes we have never really seen before (and I won’t complain about that) I still think this film is let down by a lousy plot, gorgonzola script and an awful lot of hamming-it-up from a cast who should know better. Guy Ritchie doesn’t seem to have understood that Holmes is a ‘thinking machine’ first and foremost.
The Rivals (BBC Radio 4 at 11.30am. 3/4. Murder by Proxy.) This quirky little series—in which Inspector Lestrade introduces us to ‘rivals’ of Sherlock Holmes—features Paul Beck this week. Beck was the creation of Matthias McDonnell Bodkin (an Irish Nationalist MP between 1892 and 1895, as well as a barrister) and the character has been described as “the Irish Sherlock Holmes.” The first case was published in 1899 and the last in 1929.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV3 on Freeview 10/Freesat 115/Sky 119/Virgin 117 at 4.00pm) Episode 2, First Series—The Dancing Men (May 1st, 1984) Always good to see the earliest episodes of this wonderful Granada series, when Jeremy Brett was at his very best as Holmes. I still prefer Edward Hardwicke as Watson, but David Burke does a very good job of re-inventing—almost rehabilitating him, in fact—the character.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (ITV 3 at 3.55pm) Episode 3, First Series—The Naval Treaty (May 8th, 1984) I think that the episodes dramatised by Jeremy Paul are amongst the best: and this is one of my favourites. Paul went on to write The Secret of Sherlock Holmes for Brett and Hardwicke in 1988, which had a very successful run in the West End.
Second Holmes (BBC Radio 4 Extra at 9.00am and 2.00am) This is the last episode of the six-part series first broadcast in January/February 1983 and starring Peter Egan as Holmes’ grandson. It’s very lightweight stuff and this episode, The Case of the Missing Link, is particularly weak.
Egan has played Holmes on a number of occasions: most recently a revival of The Secret of Sherlock Holmes in 2010 and another touring production of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 2008. He also narrated HOUN for Talk Classics in 1994, which I happen to like very much.
Got Digital? The radio stations shown above are also available (except in Scotland 4pm-1am) on digital radio (DAB).