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Christopher Plummer Passes Away At 91

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I just found out actor Christopher Plummer who previously played Sherlock Holmes in the TV film adaptation of Silver Blaze and the acclaimed Holmes vs Jack The Ripper film Murder By Decree passed away today, he was 91.

https://deadline.com/2021/02/christopher-plummer-dies-91-sound-of-music-all-the-money-in-the-world-star-1234688379/

His more emotional and compassionate take on the character is quite different from many incarnations, definitely in my top 10 favorite Sherlock Holmes portrayals.

 
 
 
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Yes, I think he made a good Holmes.

He's also fab in The Sound of Music!

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I agree. One of those actors I’d have liked to have seen play Holmes more than he actually did.

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On 2/6/2021 at 2:29 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

I agree. One of those actors I’d have liked to have seen play Holmes more than he actually did.

It might have been very interesting to see Chris play Holmes in a less lurid case.  On the whole, MbD is very well done and I liked the partner dynamic between the two gents.  Chris was a very handsome 50 here, even though Holmes was technically still in his thirties in 1888.  The character of the psychic, Robert Lees, played by Donald Sutherland is problematic.  At first, it seems that Lees looks good for the villain, due to DT's otherworldly stare and strange manner.  But when Holmes starts to actually give credence to these 'visions', that was decidedly out of character for him.  CP was so twinkly, so kind, so jovial . .it was a bit disconcerting.  He needed to inject a touch more of the Captain von Trapp into his Holmes, because his SH isn't nearly acerbic enough.   He would have been delightful in more adventures with Mr. Mason.

I took the news of his passing very hard, because it was so sudden and tragic.  He'd was still working up til the end, but apparently he suffered a fall at home and died of his injuries.  Not the way a proud man like him would have wanted to go.  A first-rate storyteller and artist who should have had an even bigger career.

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On 2/9/2021 at 2:44 PM, Hikari said:

It might have been very interesting to see Chris play Holmes in a less lurid case.  On the whole, MbD is very well done and I liked the partner dynamic between the two gents.  Chris was a very handsome 50 here, even though Holmes was technically still in his thirties in 1888.  The character of the psychic, Robert Lees, played by Donald Sutherland is problematic.  At first, it seems that Lees looks good for the villain, due to DT's otherworldly stare and strange manner.  But when Holmes starts to actually give credence to these 'visions', that was decidedly out of character for him.  CP was so twinkly, so kind, so jovial . .it was a bit disconcerting.  He needed to inject a touch more of the Captain von Trapp into his Holmes, because his SH isn't nearly acerbic enough.   He would have been delightful in more adventures with Mr. Mason.

I took the news of his passing very hard, because it was so sudden and tragic.  He'd was still working up til the end, but apparently he suffered a fall at home and died of his injuries.  Not the way a proud man like him would have wanted to go.  A first-rate storyteller and artist who should have had an even bigger career.

Hello Hikari,

He also played Holmes in Silver Blaze which was pretty good. I don’t know whether you’ve seen it?

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17 hours ago, HerlockSholmes said:

Hello Hikari,

He also played Holmes in Silver Blaze which was pretty good. I don’t know whether you’ve seen it?

Hi, Herl,

I didn't know Chris P. was in Silver Blaze.  I will have to see if I can find it.  Was that a full-length feature?  I enjoyed that story very much; one of the lighter-hearted ones, but I'm trying to imagine getting 90 minutes or 2 hours out of that plot.

This past weekend, I rewatched "The Sound of Music" which I had not seen for maybe 10 years.  We used to watch it every year growing up when it aired at Easter time on TV.  Maybe because I was viewing it for the first time on my high-def flatscreen TV, but the mountain scenery really popped.  I watched the opening credits sequence several times--gorgeous.

Chris was 35 and Julie was 26 years old at the time.  CP would refer to the film that made him an international superstar as 'The Sound of Mucus'.  It may be a little sappy, but it is nostalgic for me--the sounds of my childhood.  The movie soundtrack album was one of the first LPs I got on my own.  RIP, Captain.

One of the commentators on YouTube calls Maria's first encounter with the Captain as 'Hufflepuff meets Slytherin" and now I can't un-see it!

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3 hours ago, Hikari said:

Hi, Herl,

I didn't know Chris P. was in Silver Blaze.  I will have to see if I can find it.  Was that a full-length feature?  I enjoyed that story very much; one of the lighter-hearted ones, but I'm trying to imagine getting 90 minutes or 2 hours out of that plot.

This past weekend, I rewatched "The Sound of Music" which I had not seen for maybe 10 years.  We used to watch it every year growing up when it aired at Easter time on TV.  Maybe because I was viewing it for the first time on my high-def flatscreen TV, but the mountain scenery really popped.  I watched the opening credits sequence several times--gorgeous.

Chris was 35 and Julie was 26 years old at the time.  CP would refer to the film that made him an international superstar as 'The Sound of Mucus'.  It may be a little sappy, but it is nostalgic for me--the sounds of my childhood.  The movie soundtrack album was one of the first LPs I got on my own.  RIP, Captain.

One of the commentators on YouTube calls Maria's first encounter with the Captain as 'Hufflepuff meets Slytherin" and now I can't un-see it!

Hi Hikari, 

I haven’t seen Silver Blaze for a while but I think that it’s only on for around 30 minutes but it was pretty good. Watson was played by Thorley Walters who is fairly unique in that he played the part in 4 completely unconnected movies with 4 different actors playing Holmes.

I think that you can see it on YouTube.

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On 3/2/2021 at 2:52 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

Hi Hikari, 

I haven’t seen Silver Blaze for a while but I think that it’s only on for around 30 minutes but it was pretty good. Watson was played by Thorley Walters who is fairly unique in that he played the part in 4 completely unconnected movies with 4 different actors playing Holmes.

I think that you can see it on YouTube.

Just watched Silver Blaze on YouTube.  Christopher Plummer and Thorley Walters made a good team, though Walters is decidedly a bit in the Nigel Bruce school of slowness. ("By Jove!")  Here we see CP doing a more traditional take on SH than we got in Murder by Degree some 7 years later.  Watching CP crawl around on his knees in the mud using his stick to propel  himself along was great fun.  I am wondering how they got a star of CP's stature to agree to appear in a 30-minute short film.  He'd been the Captain 11 years earlier, after all and should have been on the A-list.  I wonder if he thought at this time that he wanted to do more Sherlock movies after this.

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6 hours ago, Hikari said:

Just watched Silver Blaze on YouTube.  Christopher Plummer and Thorley Walters made a good team, though Walters is decidedly a bit in the Nigel Bruce school of slowness. ("By Jove!")  Here we see CP doing a more traditional take on SH than we got in Murder by Degree some 7 years later.  Watching CP crawl around on his knees in the mud using his stick to propel  himself along was great fun.  I am wondering how they got a star of CP's stature to agree to appear in a 30-minute short film.  He'd been the Captain 11 years earlier, after all and should have been on the A-list.  I wonder if he thought at this time that he wanted to do more Sherlock movies after this.

I’ve always wondered the same thing Hikari. Some actors take the “once is enough for me” approach of course but some, like Tom Baker, for example wanted to do more but was never given the opportunity. On the other side John Neville was asked to play Holmes in a tv series but had to turn it down due to commitments. The role went to Peter Cushing. I’d definitely have liked to have seen more Plummer. Likewise Rupert Everett.

Jonathon Hyde is still my ‘Holmes that never was’ though. If only......

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On 3/5/2021 at 7:07 PM, HerlockSholmes said:

Jonathon Hyde is still my ‘Holmes that never was’ though. If only......

I remember you suggesting Mr. Hyde as a perfect mature Sherlock for the still-tabled Mary Russell TV series.  I concur.  The problem of who would be a Russell that didn't make me want to hurl things at the TV continues, however.

I don't know what happened to that project.  It was getting quite a bit of buzz 4-5 years ago and seems to have died on the vine.  The time window is closing for Mr. Hyde to play the still-vigorous young(ish) senior of the books.  We can accept a Holmes as a vigorous mid-60s . .70 at a push.  Any much longer and it might feel more like Sir Ian McKellen's take on the character.

This is a good article from an L.A. Times writer who wonders why Enola Holmes got a big-budget movie before Mary Russell did.  She's more of a fangirl for Russell than I am.  I really liked the first four novels in the series, and a few of the later ones, but for the most part, Laurie King did not sustain the promise she displayed earlier on and Russell became a thoroughly grating unlikeable character, full of herself to an unbelievable degree.  The most recent installment was published last summer.  Once again, King takes her narcissistic alter ego thorough the playgrounds of the wealthy elite of the Jazz Age.  Last time around, it was Capri; this time, Monaco, so that Russell can hobnob with the Fitzgeralds.  Sherlock Holmes has become entirely coincidental, and that's what's wrong with King's series.  SH has become more and more tangential to proceedings since Book #5, but she's not even bothering to hide that anymore.  SH is about as often seen in this series as Mycroft is, which is to say--not bloody much.  King can easily go on for 200 pages before SH even makes an appearance, and has.

A movie of 'Beekeeper's Apprentice' would tap into the Enola Holmes audience, but it seems like they won't be striking while that iron is hot.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-07-24/sherlock-holmes-enola-movie-mary-russell-covid

Hardcore purists like David Marcum squawked that SH could never on any account be *married*, especially to someone not Adler.   The problem, which later became unsupportable from my point of view is that LRK was never very interested in Sherlock Holmes.  He was a useful prop for her premise but she has always felt that she could do ACD one better and create a more superior Holmes . . this one a young female half Jewish/half American bluestocking who knows everything there is to know at 25 years of age (was well on her way to it at 15) and while the old boy can still pick a lock quicker than she can, in all other things, the disciple has overtaken the master.  If King had made Russell more of a Watson, more humble and admiring, not such an insufferable know-it-all, she certainly would have worn better on me.  Who knows how many more of these King proposes to crank out, but if she'd made Russell a cleverer Watson without the bum leg, perhaps the time would have come in the last book when SH would pass off the baton and tell his protege that having absorbed everything he could teach, she was now ready to take over as 'the' consulting detective.   Russell's arrogance tanked the character and makes me think that such a superior attitude is shared by her creator.  Puts me right off.  I guess Laurie's old enough to be so arrogant in her own knowledge, but Russell isn't.

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9 hours ago, Hikari said:

I remember you suggesting Mr. Hyde as a perfect mature Sherlock for the still-tabled Mary Russell TV series.  I concur.  The problem of who would be a Russell that didn't make me want to hurl things at the TV continues, however.

I don't know what happened to that project.  It was getting quite a bit of buzz 4-5 years ago and seems to have died on the vine.

Indeed.  Ms King made this announcement [link] on March 13, 2017, very nearly four years ago:

Quote

... we just just JUST signed the papers and so I wanted to tell you before I go that we’ve sold the rights to an English production company, one that is just bursting with excitement and ideas and that seems to get the whole idea of Russell & Holmes!!

 

9 hours ago, Hikari said:

The time window is closing for Mr. Hyde to play the still-vigorous young(ish) senior of the books.  We can accept a Holmes as a vigorous mid-60s . .70 at a push.

D'you mean this Jonathan Hyde: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Hyde ?  He's been in several Holmes productions already, though never as Holmes himself.  According to Wikipedia, he's already 72, quite a lot older than the 50-something Holmes of the Russell books (who is "elderly" only to the teenage Russell).

9 hours ago, Hikari said:

... for the most part, Laurie King did not sustain the promise she displayed earlier on and Russell became a thoroughly grating unlikeable character, full of herself to an unbelievable degree. 

Indeed.  Beekeeper's Apprentice is delightful!  I enjoyed Monstrous Regiment, then bought and dutifully read the next three books, but have bought nothing since.  I really don't give a major hoot about Mary herself -- like Doyle's Watson, she's interesting mostly as a window on Holmes, but King seems to have abandoned that concept.

10 hours ago, Hikari said:

If King had made Russell more of a Watson, more humble and admiring, not such an insufferable know-it-all, she certainly would have worn better on me.

Exactly!  Though, I hasten to add, NOT King's version of Watson, who is clearly played by Nigel Bruce.

Now I'm trying to decide why I'm thoroughly enjoying the Enola Holmes books (currently reading #4), even though they seem to share the very characteristics that you and I find objectionable in the Russell books:  Sherlock rarely appears, the real detective is a  teenage girl, and Watson is played by Nigel Bruce.  I think it's because the girl is resourceful (and self-deprecating) rather than all-knowing and the books are written in good humor rather than deadly earnest.

 

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11 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Beekeeper's Apprentice is delightful!  I enjoyed Monstrous Regiment, then bought and dutifully read the next three books, but have bought nothing since.

I liked Monstrous Regiment (ie, 'the University years'), and it was pretty interesting to read about the suffragette movement in Britain.  Some people didn't like A Letter of Mary, but I thought it was pretty good.  #4 is 'The Moor', in which the Hound case is revisited 30 years later.  SH is still fondly remembered as a legend amongst the moorfolk as 'Snoop Sherlock'.  Numbers 5 and 6 were virtually unreadable to me owing to the obsessive deep dive into esoteric medieval Jewish theology and general desert-ratness.  I honestly honestly tried, and gave up.  #7 'Locked Rooms' was the weakest one yet.  With 'The Game', #8, she rallied a bit . . .we went to India and met Rudyard Kipling's Kim.  Liked that bit; unfortunately, this book became the pinnacle of Russell's Mary Sue-ness as she singlehandedly busts Sherlock out of a fortified medieval prison after mastering three esoteric dialects on the boat ride over.  Oh, and sword-throwing . . with flames.  Seriously, 5-10 lessons and she's a professional carny-of-all-trades.  The author's militant feminist agenda to replace Sherlock Holmes with his 23-year-old wife was no longer disguised at all.

 Then the series started to get seriously flabby, meandering and perfunctory as to character development or participation of Holmes.  King's version of SH's child by Irene Adler is introduced . . a tragic drug addict/artiste named Damien.  Russell basically teaches herself how to fly a biplane so she can do some daring aerial rescue missions.  The events of these two books were verging on laughable but I plowed through them.  Great titles; sucky plots, and our heroine is morphing into a Marvel superhero/Jason Bourne, femme version in Edwardian clothing with every passing chapter.  SH nominal.  A bright spot in this later batch for me was 'The Pirate King', which finds our intrepid heroine for once doing something which isn't outlandishly Mary Sue for a 24-year-old young woman with some clerical skills--working as a PA for a film company going on location to exotic climes to shoot a movie of 'The Pirates of Penzance'.  Sherlock is largely absent again but Russell is more human-sized and tolerable.  King should have become a travelogue writer because her research into locations, cultures and historical context is first-rate.  It's characters, plotting and dialog that comes harder for her.  Most of the later books are completely forgettable.  'The Murder of Mary Russell' (#17, I think) features an extended backstory of the good landlady of Baker Street.  I strenuously disagree with Laurie's alternative version of Mrs. Hudson and how she became Sherlock's landlady, but it was innovative.  If you accept that Mrs. Hudson grew up like one of Sherlock's street urchins and was groomed for a life of crime.  Or that her name was 'Clarissa'.  (I stick with convention and call her 'Martha'.)   The newest installment is almost a year old and I've had no interest in looking it up.  

I can recommend the two short stories, 'Beekeeping for Beginners' ('The Beekeeper's Apprentice' from SH's point of view.  Very illuminating.  A rather surprising and poignant reason that he was on the Downs that day to be tripped over by an androgynous young person with her face in a book) and 'The Marriage of Mary Russell' (King provides us with the madcap story of the nuptials, which occurred between Books 2 and 3 and which she had entirely skipped over before.)  If Mary Russell had been confined to a series of short-story adventures, I'm sure I would have liked her a lot more.  She is at her best in small doses.

11 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Now I'm trying to decide why I'm thoroughly enjoying the Enola Holmes books (currently reading #4), even though they seem to share the very characteristics that you and I find objectionable in the Russell books:  Sherlock rarely appears, the real detective is a  teenage girl, and Watson is played by Nigel Bruce.  I think it's because the girl is resourceful (and self-deprecating) rather than all-knowing and the books are written in good humor rather than deadly earnest.

Good humor rather than deadly earnestness is a big point . . also, I think, is Enola's heritage.  She is a Holmes, so if she *were* a bit bad-tempered, autocratic or know-it-all, she'd come by it honestly, in her DNA.  We forgive Sherlock a lot of interpersonal failures and arrogance because of who he is, and who he is is, and was always intended to be, a very singular person, the only one of his kind in the world.  We can extend the same goodwill towards his siblings and accept that the Holmeses are just that exceptional of a family.  They have been blessed by the gods with exceptional intellects and skills.  Lightning may not strike the same place twice usually, but in the case of the Holmeses, we can accept that it has struck into one exceptional family.  Nature/nurture was both in their favor.

Then along comes Russell, who is an orphan (who, in echoes of Jean Grey, actually herself caused the automobile accident that killed her parents and her younger brother and who to my mind does not exhibit sufficient humbling guilt about this) whose parents were academics and above-average bright but not to the the savantic level of the Holmes boys.  They were loving and encouraging, and a culturally and religiously mixed marriage . . not a 'typical' childhood exactly, but much more normal of a family life than the Holmeses.  King wants us to accept without a thought that the universe conspired to create a mind equal and even superior to, the Holmes boys across barriers of time, nationality, religion and gender, and 60 years after Sherlock was born, another would appear, as a pseudo Messianic/Arthurian figure to take over, and do better that role which Sherlock Holmes has been filling so singularly since 1887?  I don't think so.  My objection to Russell has never been that she's a teenage girl/young 20something, or that she takes center stage from Sherlock Holmes even--my objection is that the way her author writes her, she renders Sherlock Holmes completely surplus to requirements.  Watsons are not as inherently as interesting or dynamic as Sherlocks, but the reason we love Dr. Watson is that he is our stand-in in these stories--he's our eyes and ears and feet; the stories are told in his voice and it is through him that we experience Sherlock Holmes.  SH by himself unadulterated is not always so audience-friendly, but Dr. Watson not only humanizes his friend, but through his eyes we come to love and admire Sherlock the same way that his biographer does.  We see the attraction of two opposites into a lifelong bond.  Russell barely seems to acknowledge half the time that Sherlock is in her life, and when he is, it's like they mutually tolerate each other rather than anything more substantial.

I do not object in principle to the idea of SH marrying and having a companion for his last years, but Russell is not the right person.  For me, as for ACD's SH, there was only ever one Woman who fired his jets, and her name was Irene.  If *I* were writing this series, I would not have made Russell Sherlock's romantic interest.  I would have written her as Sherlock's daughter by Irene Adler, who comes to live with her father after the death of her mother.  Russell was born in 1900, which is 8 or 9 years later than the proposed liaison that produced Nero Wolfe circa 1891, but I can roll with it.  Isn't the idea of Russell as Sherlock's flesh and blood vastly more appealing?  That would make her a much  more natural outlet for all of Sherlock's mentor energy and would certainly excuse many of Russell's less winning interpersonal characteristics if she is a chip off the old block.  Her prodigiousness would then have an organic explanation, which King's more 'Random Big Bang just accept that the universe created someone even more brilliant than Sherlock Holmes because I said so' gambit.  There were a lot of comedic opportunities wasted by not having Sherlock take on raising a teenage daughter at his age whilst trying to teach her 'the family business'. 

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From Carol, 

D'you mean this Jonathan Hyde: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Hyde ?  He's been in several Holmes productions already, though never as Holmes himself.  According to Wikipedia, he's already 72, quite a lot older than the 50-something Holmes of the Russell books (who is "elderly" only to the teenage Russell).

Yes Carol, that’s him. He played Culverton-Smith in The Dying Detective in the Granada series. I always felt that he’d have made a good Holmes. More in the Rathbone/Wilmer style than Brett of course. Too late for him now though. It was when I was wondering if anyone will ever make another Holmes series. I’m still waiting.

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13 hours ago, Hikari said:

Watsons are not as inherently as interesting or dynamic as Sherlocks, but the reason we love Dr. Watson is that he is our stand-in in these stories--he's our eyes and ears and feet; the stories are told in his voice and it is through him that we experience Sherlock Holmes.  SH by himself unadulterated is not always so audience-friendly, but Dr. Watson not only humanizes his friend, but through his eyes we come to love and admire Sherlock ....

True, and that may be one reason why the Mary Russell stories began to grate on me.  But the Enola Holmes stories are told (other than brief preambles and post scripts) from Enola's point of view, and she doesn't grate a bit, at least not on me.

13 hours ago, Hikari said:

If *I* were writing this series, I would not have made Russell Sherlock's romantic interest.  I would have written her as Sherlock's daughter by Irene Adler, who comes to live with her father after the death of her mother.  Russell was born in 1900, which is 8 or 9 years later than the proposed liaison that produced Nero Wolfe circa 1891, but I can roll with it.  Isn't the idea of Russell as Sherlock's flesh and blood vastly more appealing?

Potentially, yes -- but only if it changed the chemistry.  If she didn't behave any different from Mary Russell, I think I'd find her equally annoying after a while.

 

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