In the Sherlock Holmes stories there are things that are alluded to and events that are described after they have taken place. Should people who are adapting the stories for the screen leave them that way or is it good for them to use such things as a pass to indulge themselves?
There are several examples of this:
|Fancy a spot of fisticuffs?|
Watson refers to Holmes’s combat prowess. His experience with the single-stick, the sword and as a boxer yet we have no “on page” details of such combat. Holmes refers to his boxing past and more recent fist-fights (in The Sign of Four, for example, and The Solitary Cyclist) but, again, we never get to see any “on page” examples.
This has been routinely used by screenwriters as an excuse to have Holmes involved in all sorts of combat scenes and we have most recently seen this indulged to excess in the Robert Downey Jr movies.
It is made clear that Watson has his chequebook secured in Holmes’s desk (The Dancing Men). This lack of direct access to his own chequebook has been routinely used to suggest that Watson has a gambling problem. This was hinted at in the Granada series and quite bluntly in the second RDJ movie. Amusingly though it is Holmes that has a bet on a horse race in Silver Blaze (a fact that Granada kept in their adaptation).
|Time for a flutter?|
Holmes’s neatness and untidiness
The books strongly state that while Holmes has good personal hygiene (or cat-like standards of cleanliness) he is less tidy when it comes to documents - having piles of unsorted document scattered around the flat.
|I'm not the scruff you think I am!|
This has occasionally been twisted so, as we saw with the RDJ movies, Holmes was portrayed as lacking in personal hygiene.
|I can assure you that I know where everything is.|
The Granada series kept Holmes himself neat (except when disguises required otherwise) but seized on the messy papers aspect to have Jeremy Brett’s Holmes routinely throwing papers all over the place which (although comical) was clearly not quite right. It is one thing to have messy piles of unsorted documents but once they were sorted you know they would have been kept that way.
So, I say again, is it good that screenwriters use these "blank cheques" to add variety or does it permit too many wild deviations from the true characters of the books?
Written by Alistair DuncanBuy my books here