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1 Becomes 234
by Jon Schuller

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This is the first column I wrote 9 years ago as I began to write my bi-monthly movie column. I love movies, started watching as a child and I want to share that with everyone. It's been a fun trip and I have no intentions of stopping. I hope I've given others my love and enthusiasm, and some new knowledge along the way. It is truly a Labor of Love. Thank you, everyone, for reading my words and hopefully getting to see these great films along the way.
Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of the immortal detective Sherlock Holmes appears to be the most accurate in all movie history. When I say accurate I mean that his on-screen character resembles Conan Doyle's famous Englishman perfectly. Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not invent the detective novel, he did create (in my opinion) the most famous detective in literature. Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue started the detective novel craze back in the 19th Century. But it was Conan Doyle who created Holmes, first as a series in the Strand Magazine and then, with several novels. He based his character on a Scots doctor who was working at the time with rudimentary forensic science to solve crimes. The London Doyle set his stories in
was at once sophisticated and dreary, smog-bound and intensely dangerous. Criminals were a mainstay of the real world and much attention had been given to The Ripper murders, still unsolved to this day.
We've all seen the most famous movie portrayal of Sherlock Holmes by Basil Rathbone, a wonderful English actor with that unmistakably deep, resonant voice and strong screen persona. For many generations he WAS Sherlock Holmes. Other greats included John Barrymore, Michael Caine, Peter Cushing, Stewart Granger, Ronald Howard (on TV), Leonard Nimoy, and Peter O'Toole's voice, to name a few. But now we have a remarkable movie, complete with great special effects, that has created the London that was home to Holmes and his creator. From wealthy country mansions to the slums of the East End and South-of-the-Thames, we enter a time where most British citizens lived in dire poverty and disease. The Industrial Revolution had transformed London into the center of world commerce a scant 60 years or so before Holmes inhabited the City.
We have a brilliant, eccentric man living in the midst of all this turmoil and growth; amidst poverty, crime and death. He's so brilliant he can barely tolerate any friends or neighbors who are so obviously less intelligent than he. He has a mild
tolerance for London's famous police force, the Bobbies or Peelers, named after The Home Secretary, Robert Peel, who created the first police force in 1829. Only one person is allowed into his dark world:Dr. John Watson, a physician. Holmes takes drugs, lives like a disorganized slob, dresses well below what he could afford but allows himself to be hired as a "consulting detective" by the police when needed. He observes everything minutely and can site chapter and verse on practically any subject. I always thought that Holmes had a photographic memory which he used to full advantage gathering clues within an instant at a crime scene. His methods, documented by Conan Doyle, has been seen over and over again on crime dramas like NCIS, SWAT, The Mentalist, Criminal Minds, Vincent, Chicago P.D. and CSI. Making sense from various clues and places, Holmes was the first detective who combined observation (today's "walking the grid") at crime scenes with forensic sciences using medicine and chemistry.
Robert Downey Jr. has captured these qualities and brought Sherlock Holmes to life in the latest film. We see how he lives, how he thinks, how he acts and reacts to real and imagined dangers; how his friendship with Dr. Watson makes him a little more human and likable. He reluctantly finds
himself in the middle of dangerous situations, confronting the villains of his day, trying to out-think and outwit them. There's a new female character, Irene Adler, who he must deal with in this movie. She's beautiful and as smart as Holmes. If there was a chance for Holmes to fall in love, she'd be the obvious choice in my book. But, then, there'd be no reason for a sequel in a year or two.
Mr. Downey is one of my favorite actors, having done a splendid job in creating Ironman last year and Chaplin in the 90s. In this film he is more than ably supported by Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong and Eddie Marsan. It was directed by Guy Ritchie with music by the amazing Has Zimmer. Downey can display both ironic humor and strong dramatic portrayals in his on-screen characters. He has always been a skillful actor in my opinion despite personal problems. His talent is the only thing that interests me and we are all luckier for his films' successes. He seems to accept the challenges that come with making famous fictional names come to life. As an actor myself I know how difficult this can be. But Downey makes it look easy. His Tony Stark in Ironman is both abrasive and brilliant. The similarities to his Sherlock Holmes are all there. All we have to do is simply sit back, munch some popcorn and enjoy them.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.


Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

I Can Feel It. Can You?

Life Seems to Imitate Art

One Is All It Usually Takes Redux

A Cornucopia of Great Movies

So Many Famous Folks' April Birthdays

All Columns


Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 29 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).



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