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"the colossal schemes of Baron" [REIG]

While it's encouraging to know that Sherlock Holmes is being considered for cinematic outings from time to time - the last big screen flourishes having occurred with Young Sherlock Holmes and Without a Clue - the latest round of Hollywood rumors leaves a little to be desired.

Sherlock Holmes Reinvented

The first announcement occurred a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that none other than Warner Bros. were interested in backing a film by Madonna's soon-to-be-ex Guy Ritchie. In this gritty, action-based dramatization, we'll see a "reinvention" of the character as Ritchie rewrites an upcoming comic book by Lionel Wigram. According to the article, the focus will be on adventure, with Holmes's skills as a boxer and swordsman being highlighted. Rumor has it that Robert Downey, Jr. will take the lead.

If you ask us, the stories already have a good deal of adventure to them, and Holmes is already imbued with superhero-like powers that he doesn't need to be rewritten or sexed-up for the big screen. When will screenwriters and directors realize that they've got the makings of the perfect hero the way the character was written?

"Frankly Hilarious"?

The latest ugly rumor is that none other than Sacha Baron Cohen - yes, that's right, Borat - will team up with Will Ferrell to play Holmes and Watson in a comedy. How they'll manage to work the potty humor for which they're known into a treatment about the detective and his colleague is a mystery to me. One of the producers is Judd Apatow, who's been responsible for recent comedies such as Walk Hard, Knocked Up, Talledega Nights, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin (all titles meant to inspire confidence in his comedic judgment, we suppose).

But according to the co-president of Columbia Pictures, "Sacha and Will are two of the funniest and most talented guys on the planet, and having them take on these two iconic characters is frankly hilarious."

At least they're sticking to the right genre.

Has It Come to This?

We're not trying to be spoilsports here - publicity for the great detective is important as we try to keep his name in the spotlight - but think of the children! In these days when books are getting less attention and kids get more information through video games, the Web, multimedia and text messaging, we need to be circumspect with the material we're presenting to them.

What will coming generations think if they're introduced to Holmes and Watson via recent questionable productions like Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stockingand Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street Irregulars, or the above-mentioned projects? We can only hope that creative devotees will find a way to integrate more Canonically faithful movies.

Think of what the world would have been like if the Granada Television series with Jeremy Brett hadn't come along in the early 1980s. We would have been relegated to memories of John Cleese in The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It and Dudley Moore and Peter Cook in The Hound Of The Baskervilles. We shudder at the thought.

What do you think? Chime in with a comment below.

P.S. In case you're wondering, this is no joke, unlike our successful hoodwinking of many outlets with an April Fool's Day prank.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons



Bill said... July 2, 2008 at 11:53 PM

Basil Rathbone commented that one reason why the film series he did (and perhaps his stage play) didn't captivate the public was that the public had lost what I call a "willing suspension of disbelief." You have to appreciate the Holmes-Watson atmosphere where 'it is always 1895' to take it seriously and enjoy it for what it is. It cannot be made "current" in the sense people look for today. Yet, there is a market for non-violent, non-sexed movies. They just won't always be blockbusters. It takes a little thought to think of an actor who could bring real character and power to Holmes and Watson. I will try to come up with my pick. I'd be curious of other's ideas.

Tim (@Twalk) Walker said... July 3, 2008 at 12:18 PM

While I can't claim to be a proper Sherlockian, I do love the original canon of stories and novels.

That said, I've long ago given up on faithfulness to literary source material when it comes to Hollywood films. I like Downey, and would love to see him play Holmes, even though he wouldn't be as faithful to the canon as Brett was. But sometimes the re-imaginings of directors (e.g. Ridley Scott with Blade Runner) can create entertainment that is wonderful, even though it departs from the original.

Phil Bergem said... July 3, 2008 at 4:23 PM

Wow, Sacha Cohen and Will Ferrell portraying Holmes and Watson would really be my worst nightmare. I’m just stunned contemplating it. Problem is that it probably would fly with the segment of the population who like “reality” programming in TV. I’m hoping the rumor is, like so many from the entertainment industry, unfounded. - Phil

Frank said... July 10, 2008 at 2:39 AM

Reuters confirms that Downey Jr. has agreed to play the role of the famous detective: