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Interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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Fascinating 1927 interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, believed to be the only filmed interview in existence:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWjgt9PzYEM

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I've seen this video before. I believe it's actually from 1930. In 1927, talkie-films were just becoming practical. And the guy who filmed it was incredibly lucky. Doyle died just months later. It was the first, last, and ONLY sound-sync'ed film interview that he ever gave.

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There is a collection of Basil Rathbone movies that includes this interview. I wished Sir Arthur had spent more time talking about Holmes and not the Spirituality side of things. But seeing how Doyle saw Holmes as a distraction and not an asset, it's understandable.

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Dorothy L. Sayers was the same way -- she didn't consider her Lord Peter Wimsey mystery stories as important as her scholarly works. Oddly enough, though, she was a big Sherlock Holmes fan, and is the person who came up with "Hamish" as John H. Watson's middle name (to explain his wife calling him "James" in one story).

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I think Agatha Christie was also a bit like that.

 

Must be a thing with mystery/crime writers.

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And interesting. I read the book "An Entirely New Country" about the building of Undershaw, and the comment is made that though by this time Sir Arthur was tired of Holmes he always turned to him when he needed to refresh his bank account and, luckily for us, Holmes was always more then willing to co-operate.

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Such an amazing interview. Thank you a lot for sharing this. I am going to increasingly try this increased observation and deduction in life. Let me see how it works :D

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An absolutely fascinating interview.

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Be good to see more of this sort of stuff, I find it really interesting. Arthur Conan Doyle was obsessed with  spiritualism throughout much of his life which is pretty evident in numerous interviews and write ups. He thought it much more intriguing than any of the fictional cases Holmes ever investigated. Conan Doyle did some investigation at a haunted pub in Watford Village (near  where the Watford Gap is now) in the early 1890s , the Henley Arms.  Apparently the landlord, a chap called Alfred Newton let him hold a seance there to try and find out why the spirit of a long dead serving maid  was haunting the place.  Then he went on to investigate some hauntings in Devon, and at other places. He also did his own investigations into the Wyrley Horse Mutilations (these days livestock mutilations are big Forteana in the USA, but we had them in the UK first!) and was able to exonerate George Edalji, destroying the case against him. 

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Thanks, Galgatean, somehow I've never discovered this thread before!

My first impression is that a lot of the Watson actors modelled themselves after Doyle... :smile:

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11 hours ago, Arcadia said:

My first impression is that a lot of the Watson actors modelled themselves after Doyle... :smile:

As well they should!  Watson, though not a classic Mary Sue, was pretty clearly a self-insertion character.  He's not only an MD (like Doyle), but consider the description of him given in "Milverton":  "... a middle-sized, strongly built man — square jaw, thick neck, moustache...."   Hardly Paget's tall slender fellow!

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On 4/9/2019 at 6:51 PM, Galgatean said:

Be good to see more of this sort of stuff, I find it really interesting. Arthur Conan Doyle was obsessed with  spiritualism throughout much of his life which is pretty evident in numerous interviews and write ups. He thought it much more intriguing than any of the fictional cases Holmes ever investigated. Conan Doyle did some investigation at a haunted pub in Watford Village (near  where the Watford Gap is now) in the early 1890s , the Henley Arms.  Apparently the landlord, a chap called Alfred Newton let him hold a seance there to try and find out why the spirit of a long dead serving maid  was haunting the place.  Then he went on to investigate some hauntings in Devon, and at other places. He also did his own investigations into the Wyrley Horse Mutilations (these days livestock mutilations are big Forteana in the USA, but we had them in the UK first!) and was able to exonerate George Edalji, destroying the case against him. 

There’s a very good book on the Edalji Case called Conan Doyle and the Parson’s Son by Gordon Weaver and a very good fictionalised version called Arthur And George by  Julian Barnes. Other good books where Doyle dealt with real life crimes are: Conan Doyle For The Defence by Margalit  Fox - Doyle worked to secure the release of Oscar Slater. The Mile End Murder by Sinclair Mackay - Doyle tried to discover the killer of an old woman. There’s also The Ardlamont Mystery by Daniel Smith - this was an investigation of a murder where 2 doctors Henry Littlejohn and Joseph Bell we’re called in to help. Doyle based Holmes on Joseph Bell.

Youre right that Doyle was utterly taken in by Spiritualism aided by his second wife who claimed to have a spirit guide. Doyle donated the equivalent of millions of pounds to the cause. He even fell out with his good friend Harry Houdini over the subject. Doyle accepted that there were fraudulent mediums but believed that most were genuine. Houdini felt that they were all charlatans and set about proving it by exposingmany of them.

Then there was The Cottingley Fairies of course but the less said about that the better.😃

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1 hour ago, HerlockSholmes said:

Youre right that Doyle was utterly taken in by Spiritualism [....].  He even fell out with his good friend Harry Houdini over the subject. Doyle accepted that there were fraudulent mediums but believed that most were genuine. Houdini felt that they were all charlatans and set about proving it by exposing many of them.

Just curious what members of this forum think.

I myself am partway between Doyle and Houdini.  The Fox sisters (essentially the founders of Spiritualism) later confessed to having been out-and-out hoaxes, so clearly there are some of those.  And I suspect there are quite a number of perfectly sincere would-be mediums who have been taken in by their own wishful thinking.  But my own observations lead me to believe that some people are genuine mediums or clairvoyants to one extent or another (though I have no idea how these people gain their knowledge, whether by reading the akashic record as some claim, or by "simple" mindreading, or what).  In any case, I see no way that this could be scientifically proven (or disproven), because -- judging by my own rare flashes of knowledge -- it's not something that can be done on demand, and therefore couldn't be replicated under controlled conditions.

I'm most skeptical of people who claim they can read the future.  I'm not saying it's impossible (how would I know?), merely that I've never seen any convincing evidence that it's true.

What do y'all think?

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31 minutes ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Just curious what members of this forum think.

I myself am partway between Doyle and Houdini.  The Fox sisters (essentially the founders of Spiritualism) later confessed to having been out-and-out hoaxes, so clearly there are some of those.  And I suspect there are quite a number of perfectly sincere would-be mediums who have been taken in by their own wishful thinking.  But my own observations lead me to believe that some people are genuine mediums or clairvoyants to one extent or another (though I have no idea how these people gain their knowledge, whether by reading the akashic record as some claim, or by "simple" mindreading, or what).  In any case, I see no way that this could be scientifically proven (or disproven), because -- judging by my own rare flashes of knowledge -- it's not something that can be done on demand, and therefore couldn't be replicated under controlled conditions.

I'm most skeptical of people who claim they can read the future.  I'm not saying it's impossible (how would I know?), merely that I've never seen any convincing evidence that it's true.

What do y'all think?

I afraid I’m firmly in the Houdini camp on this one. I genuinely think that they are all conmen/women preying on the grief stricken who desperately want to believe. Others will disagree of course. It’s one of those subjects like religion and politics that means a lot to many. This is my opinion anyway.

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I'm pretty sure you're right about far too many of them, so we agree to that extent.

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This is one of those things … like telepathy … that I want to believe in, but don't. I do believe some people are more attuned to non-verbal cues than most, and things like that. But if there's a case out there that would convince me that some form of ESP is real, I haven't run across it yet. It's not something I've done a deep study of, though. But I'm pretty sure my inborn skepticism would be pretty hard to overcome.

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Telepathy? No way Jose! May I have teleportation instead? In other words, ‘beam me up, Scotty’ ? 

What I particularly dislike about Sir Arthur’s interview is his description of poor Dr Watson. Surely, that gave rise to all the dim-witted versions over the years, Nigel Bruce presiding, until they were dispelled by the Granada series, bless David Burke and Edward Hardwicke for trying so hard. Holmes would never have tolerated a dimwitted goldfish as his ‘friend and partner’!

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3 hours ago, Inge l-w said:

What I particularly dislike about Sir Arthur’s interview is his description of poor Dr Watson. Surely, that gave rise to all the dim-witted versions over the years Nigel Bruce presiding  ....

You're referring to the phrase "... his rather stupid friend, Watson...."?  Could be, though I've heard it theorized that wartime movies nearly always included some form of comic relief, and of course they didn't want to make Holmes into a buffoon, so Watson was the logical choice.  Well, Watson and Lestrade.

Seems to me that Doyle's Watson wasn't stupid at all, he was merely not Sherlock Holmes -- so by comparison....

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10 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

You're referring to the phrase "... his rather stupid friend, Watson...."?  Could be, though I've heard it theorized that wartime movies nearly always included some form of comic relief, and of course they didn't want to make Holmes into a buffoon, so Watson was the logical choice.  Well, Watson and Lestrade.

Seems to me that Doyle's Watson wasn't stupid at all, he was merely not Sherlock Holmes -- so by comparison....

I think they wanted a more marked contrast between Holmes and Watson. A not particularly bright Watson makes Holmes’ brilliance stand out. And, as you say Carol, they wanted a ‘lighter’ element to the movies and Nigel Bruce was pretty much tailor made for the role providing the comic moments. Doyle’s Watson was never stupid but he often felt stupid next to Holmes (like everyone apart from Mycroft, Moriarty and some of the criminals that thought that they were to clever for Holmes.)

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