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The View from Sherlock Peoria
No. 391, December 27, 2009

The $65 Million Dollar Christmas Present

We saved the big present for last on Christmas this year. The trusted companion, the beekeeper, the logician, the Holmesian archeologist, and I all loaded up in a hardy four-wheeler and headed out to the theater with the largest screens in the area, a 450-seater, to see our friend Sherlock Holmes.

It had been a long road since I first came to know of Holmes on the screen of the Strand Theater in 1970, via a preview of Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Almost a full forty years, in fact. Holmes had made a few notable appearances on the big screen since that time, but nothing that thrilled me as much as that original encounter.

Many a friend has hear me say that I have the sensibilities and tastes of a thirteen-year-old, and it may well be that is was that thirteen-year-old teased by Private Life whom I’ve been speaking of all these years. And that thirteen-year-old got a really great present this year.

We expected a big movie Sherlock Holmes. We expected Sherlockians to weigh and measure the film. But what I didn’t expect was everything surrounding this new movie.

The title is simply “Sherlock Holmes.” If you ask to buy a ticket, you say, “Sherlock Holmes.” At the end of the credits is the title, “Sherlock Holmes.” When all is said and done a whole generation who barely knew the name will once again recognize the sound of those syllables and go, “Yeah, Sherlock Holmes! He’s great!”

Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr., et al, have given Sherlockians a Christmas present better than any of us could have hoped for . . . an acknowledgement that there might be a reason for Sherlockians to exist in the new millennium.

Admittedly, all the press so far hasn’t been great for the classic Sherlockian community. A couple of articles on seemed to insist upon referring to the B.S.I. as “the invitation-only literary society” and calling one member “a self-designated Sherlockian.”   Both phrases seemed a little distancing toward new fans looking for a herd to join, as if the reporter was taking a “look at these oddballs” line. (Of course, I could be a little over-sensitive.)  But a large enough Holmes push in the culture as a whole can’t help but benefit Holmes fandom in the end.

After seeing the movie a second time in a twenty-four hour period, this time with that rascalliest of Lascars who gave his blessing to it, I came to the realization that I did not want to review the movie, as one would expect of a blog like this. It reminded me of Avatar in giving a cinematic world that I didn’t want to leave behind, but unlike Avatar, which came out a week before, Sherlock Holmes was actually affecting my world outside the theater.

I was reminded of an interchange in a recent issue of Adventure comics between undead Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime (the Superman mythos is not the simple thing of days of old),  Alexander is talking to Prime about his comic collection, saying “Others find hope and inspiration between these pages. They find a community to belong to. But you’re not like the others. You claim ownership, but you have no control.” In that simple statement, writer Geoff Johns sums up the good and the bad sides of any fandom. The best of us find inspiration and community. The worst try to assert ownership over something beyond their control.

I’ve seen both in my days in the Sherlockian world, but the phenomenon of a truly well-done motion picture starting out with a $65 million opening weekend . . . that is a delightful reminder that Sherlock Holmes doesn’t belong to any cult, invitation-only literary society, or even the most ardent of fans.

Sherlock Holmes belongs to the world.

As that idea began to wash over me this weekend, I found I couldn’t even think about reviewing Sherlock Holmes. Eventually I may decide if it is my first or second favorite Sherlock Holmes movie next to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, but that is for another day. (And should give you a clue as to my general feelings about it.) But for now . . . for now, I’m just going to sit back as I did in that movie theater on Christmas Day . . . just enjoy the ride.

Your humble correspondent,
Brad Keefauver


Archives for
2002 to 2008

Past 2009 Columns

January 4, 2009
The Joy of Ignorance

January 11, 2009
The Peoria BSI Dinner 2008

January 18, 2009
Is Baritsu Real?

January 20, 2009
The Return of the Intelligent Man

January 25, 2009
Knowledge of Sandwich Cookies: Nil(la)

February 2 , 2009
Was Conan Doyle A Racist?

February 8 , 2009
Coming Attractions!

February 15, 2009
Les Klinger's Encore Performance

February 22, 2009
Good Comics On The Horizon

March 1 , 2009
Peoria's Proto-fanboy Heads Up River

March 8, 2009
Poetry TIme Again

March 15, 2009
Timid Sherlockian of the Blogosphere

March 22, 2009
The Next Sherlockian You Meet

March 29, 2009
Sherlock Holmes in Peoria
. . . Someday!

April 5, 2009
A Whisper of Conspiracy

April 12, 2009
Tweeting Sherlock

April 19, 2009
Quick Notes, Quick
Like Intuitions

April 26, 2009
Once More On The
Trendy Twitter

May 3 , 2009
A New Sherlock
Holmes Comic!

May 7 , 2009
A Successful Reboot

May 14, 2009
A Weekend for Watson

May 21, 2009
Previewing Sherlock

May 28, 2009
Still Not A Doylean . . .

June 7, 2009
A Bad Review of
Dust and Shadow!

June 14, 2009
Ghosts from Baker Street

June 21, 2009
Vincent Starrett's "221B":
A New Review

June 28, 2009
My Pre-Sherlockian Era

July 5, 2009
Fireworks for Sherlock

July 12, 2009
Prospecting in Arizona

July 19, 2009
Kicking Holmes In The . . .

July 26, 2009
Kicking Bob Off The . . .

August 2, 2009
Why Can't I Read The BSJ Anymore?

August 9 , 2009
Big Screen Weekend

August 16, 2009
The Golden Ticket

August 23, 2009
Wishing I Could Write It

August 30, 2009
D'oh! Another Holmes In Comics Blog

September 6 , 2009
Labor Day Sherlock

September 13 , 2009
Non-records of a Non-gathering

September 20 , 2009
What Happened To Brad's Head

September 27 , 2009
Inner Life/Outer World

October 3, 2009
Another List Blog

October 10 , 2009

October 17, 2009
Books On Fire

October 25, 2009
Sherlock Holmes Versus Zombies!

November 8 , 2009
Another Sherlockian Gone

November 15, 2009
It's My Belief, Watson . . .

November 22, 2009
Dynamite Versus Zombies

November 29, 2009
There When You Need Him

December 6, 2009
The World Is Catching Up!

December 13, 2009
It's Coming . . .

December 20, 2009
Rotten Tomatoes and Orange Cranberry Scones

December 27, 2009
The $65 Million Dollar Christmas Present