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Holmes's note to Watson at Reichenbach Falls

The fifth in our series of recaps of #G2B4

Every Sherlock Holmes event has its own character, its own appeal to those of us "playing the game." From Gillette to Brett brings us Holmes in the visual and audio media, from radio drama to classic black and white film to modern adaptations and interpretations on the small (television) and the smaller screen (computer). While maintaining its unique character, this event also offers something near and dear to the heart of every Sherlockian; in the spirit of the Canonical Holmes and Watson, From Gillette to Brett celebrates friendship. Though the weekend was filled with classic films and fascinating presentations, under "Important Things to Know" in the weekend’s program was the following:

"Half the fun of events like ‘From Gillette to Brett IV’ is visiting with distant friends…"

There was a lot of visiting going on over the weekend. People who only knew each other from Facebook, Tumblr, or Sherlockian blogs were able to meet in person. Those who live far apart had a chance to see each other and catch up on each other’s lives. In order to keep things running smoothly at the jam-packed event, the brilliant organizers, Steven Doyle, BSI, and Mark Gagen, BSI, drew names for door prizes at the beginning of each segment of Saturday’s symposium. The prizes were awarded only to those in their seats at the time of the drawing, guaranteeing that most attendees would be in place for the next speaker.

The event began on the lovely campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, at the Lilly Library’s rare book, manuscript, and special collections library. The group was deftly divided into two sections to attend a workshop on the Library’s collection of unique bound books, led by James Canary, Head of Conservation, as well as a session on rare manuscripts with Library Director, Joel Silver. Among the rare manuscripts that were available for viewing were a page of the New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible, the First Folio of Shakespeare, a rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tamerlane,” as well as an issue of “Beeton's Christmas Annual” of 1887, which contained “A Study in Scarlet,” and a fragment of a manuscript by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—Holmes’s note to Watson left at the top of the Reichenbach Falls in “The Final Problem.” On display in the Library were other works by Conan Doyle as well.
MS for the Red Circle at Lilly Library    

Others have written about the course of the weekend, so there is little need for a detailed rehash of the schedule. Some of the highlights of From Gillette to Brett IV include:
  • A lovely reception where everyone mingled and enjoyed each other’s company.
  • Viewing The Hound of the Baskervilles (2014 is its 75th Anniversary) on a huge movie screen in the IU Cinema. Never has the Basil Rathbone original been as captivating as on the big screen; the hound itself was frightening in a way it never was on a television screen.
  • First speaker on Saturday was Bonnie MacBird, author, actor, and screenwriter, who brought us into the world of screenwriting and how television scripts differ from film scripts. We learned how BBC's Sherlock is more similar to a film than a television show.
  • Kristina Manente, founder of the Baker Street Babes podcast, shared the fascinating world of internet Sherlockian fandom.
  • Author and playwright, David Stuart Davies, showed how "playing the game" can and should be fun through humorous glimpses of Canon, film, and television.
  • Bert Coules, head writer for the BBC’s Clive Merrison Sherlock Holmes radio drama, shared the history of British radio adaptations of the stories.
  • British film and television producer and director, Paul Annett, talked about his time at the helm of the first season of the Granada Sherlock Holmes series, and his working relationship and friendship with Jeremy Brett. Mr. Annett shared how he guided the actor in the early days of the ground-breaking series, and showed some silent screen tests with Brett and David Burke as they experimented with facial expressions and reactions for their characters.
Brett's frock coat from Granada's Sherlock Holmes  Sir Hugo's shirt from the 1959 Hammer Hound

The weekend concluded with a lovely banquet and a tribute to the late Michael Hoey, who had been on the original program but who passed away just weeks earlier. Following the banquet was yet one more delightful film, another 75th Anniversary celebrant, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” with the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce team, as well as the luminous Ida Lupino. The film was introduced by film studies scholar, Professor James Naremore.

Along with the many planned events, the weekend was filled with small gatherings of Sherlockians in local pubs and restaurants, and more than a few celebrated their time together as the legendary John Bennett Shaw’s "two [or more] Sherlockians and a bottle."

From Gillette to Brett IV was a remarkable achievement (as were its three predecessors) by Messrs. Doyle and Gagen of Wessex Press, bringing together fans of the Canon from all walks of life, many generations, different parts of the world, and differing opinions on just who is "the perfect Holmes." From Gillette to Norwood to Wilmer to Howard to Rathbone to Brett to Downey, Jr. to Cumberbatch to Miller; nearly everyone’s favorite made an appearance or was given a mention at the podium or in a lively discussion.

With apologies to Samuel Johnson, "…when a man or woman is tired of Holmes, they are tired of life; for there is in Holmes all that life can afford."

From Gillette to Brett IV offered more than any Sherlockian heart could possibly desire.

Photos courtesy of Jacqueline Morris