Sherlock Holmes Cyclopædia 2
on Screens (1940-1959)
Mycroft’s brother Editions (April 5, 2019).
Text by Howard Ostrom & Thierry Saint-Joanis.
Edited and illustrated by Thierry Saint-Joanis.
Dimensions: 17 x 1,5 x 24 cm
Hardcover (172 pages)
Price: 30 euros/$35 (free shipping!)
172 pages - 550 photos
100+ film and television productions are featured, from... U.S. (60), U.K. (18), France (8), Germany & West Germany (5), Mexico (3), Poland (3), South Africa (1), Sweden (1), India (1), Finland (1), Brazil (1).
Howard Ostrom: However the period 1940-1959 covered by this second volume of the series Sherlock Holmes on Screens begins in that momentous year when the world held its breath as the fate of nations lay in the balance. In noting the handful of minor entries between 1939’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the first of the Universal series in 1942, that greater context surely takes precedence. Had history taken a different turn…
In 1940, Vasily Livanov was a five-year-old evacuee from Moscow, a month younger than Robert Downey Snr. Jeremy Brett was seven and Benedict Cumberbatch’s father had just been born. Two older, future Sherlocks had still to make their cinematic mark: Ronald Howard and Peter Cushing. Their future – all our futures – depended on the outcome of the war.
Happily, the storm cleared and a cleaner, better, stronger land lay in the sunshine. This and future volumes celebrate all the future Sherlockian flowers then given freedom to grow.
Thierry Saint-Joanis: For thirty years I gathered data for a project to create an encyclopædia addressing all adaptations of Sherlock Holmes in all forms, from the entire world, as well as an encyclopædia on the life and work of Conan Doyle. For a similar period of time my friend Howard Ostrom too was gathering information on Holmes in the media, but from the other side of the Atlantic. Fate and our love of the subject brought us together to create our cyclopædia by grouping our finds.
Cyclopædia, not encyclopædia
In 1728, the Cyclopædia was one of the first general encyclopædias to be produced in English. It was the inspiration for the landmark Encyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert. Cyclopædia is a reference work (often in several volumes) containing articles on various topics (often arranged in alphabetical order) dealing with the entire range of human knowledge, or with some particular specialty. For our purpose, the speciality is Sherlock Holmes. Of course there are many reference books about Sherlock Holmes on paper, or articles online, but this will be the first cyclopædia because its something different. It is more complete than the previous ones, due to the methods of research, the manners for the exposition of the facts, and the criteria of selection. The first volumes are dedicated to adaptations for screens.
Screens, plural. All forms of visual media as viewed on cinema, television, and even internet. If there is something Sherlockian on a screen, it deserves an entry in our cyclopædia. Even if the link with Conan Doyle stories is tiny or none. A quote, a deerstalker or a pipe which raises any Sherlockian allusion to the spectator, and the game’s afoot! Howard and I, are on the trail of who, what, when, where and why. It is always good to know and it helps to understand the influence of the detective of Baker Street in our daily lives, our parents, and our children.
For each volume, we search, we find and we visualize. For that, we use two kinds of documents: pictures and clippings. For press clippings, they are almost all unpublished in this genre of work on cinema and Sherlock Holmes. It is rare to reproduce identically this type of document in a book. We feel it is more useful to provide the source of information for use by those who will need it for future studies. We took the time and money to find them in the press archives around the world. By bringing them together in a single publication, we want to facilitate the work of future researchers.
There are many lessons to be learned from a contemporary article about a film, about the film itself, but also the view of the audience, and most importantly, the level of Holmesian knowledge of the audience of the time. Today, quotes like “Elementary, my dear Watson” are universal. But, one discovers that in the thirties, the press used rather formulas like “Quick, Watson, the needle”, which is today totally forgotten, even prohibited by what one designates as politically correct. For the photos, we have made the choice to provide unpublished or rarely used images in the books already published on the subject and that many of our readers may already have in their library. Of course, this only concerns the few films already known. A great many of those presented in our books have never been cited in any Holmesian book. Here, everything is new. We unfortunately could not reproduce all that we found for lack of space. We then selected the images providing information on one of the specificities of the film, an artistic choice, an interpretation, an anomaly or an error. Here too, the sources are multiple. Some images were miraculously found in unexpected documents and places. From now on, Sherlockians or Scholars will only have to look at them, without wasting time looking for them. They are all in one publication, the Sherlock Holmes Cyclopædia.
“Basil. That’s my name in those parts.”
(The Adventure of Black Peter)
In Sherlock Holmes on Screens (1940-1959), it is elementary that Basil Rathbone, Ronald Howard, Alan Napier, Alan Wheatley, John Longden and Andrew Osborn are included.
But there are also: Boris Karloff, Errol Flynn, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, the Three Stooges, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Alfred Hitchcock, Harpo Marx, Jerry Lewis, Donald O’Connor, Roland Young, Roger Livesey, Andy Clyde, Lester ‘Smiley’ Burnette, Joe Noble, Henry Stephenson, Milton Berle, Benny Hill, George Formby, Graham Crowden, Michael Weight, Kenneth Connor, John McLeish, Huntz Hall, Jack Carson, William (Bill) Crane, Michael Powell, Cecil Parker, Wally Brown, Pat Brady, Jerry Miles, Jack Edwardes & Dickie Arnold, Lynne Overman, Robert Woolsey, José Baviera, Darry Cowl, Joe Warfield, Michel Marsay, Alfred Pasquali, Jean-Roger Caussimon, Gérard Buhr, Armand Bernard, Theo Lingen, Eric Blore, Luis G. Barreiro, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Wolf Ackva, Karl Lieffen, Jalmari Rinne, Frederik Burgers, Al Debbo, Tadeusz Białoszczyński, Konrad Tom, Shishir Batabyal, Gerhard Bendz, Darrell Catling, Antonio Espino, Carequinha, Costinha, The Jubalaires, Mel Blanc as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig & Bugs Bunny, Snooper & Blabber, Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, Popeye, the marionettes John Fadoozle and Sooty, Tamba the chimp and even a waxwork Sherlock Holmes!
Almost 90 are wearing a deerstalker, an Inverness cape, smoking a calabash pipe, and looking through a magnifying glass.
The question is how many do you know?
The answer can be found in the book Sherlock Holmes on Screens (1940-1959).
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
"You have produced one of the most handsome Sherlockian books that I have ever come across! It's full of rare and fascinating information, with hundreds of superb illustrations, many of which are new to me. On my shelves are many books about Holmes on screen, stage and radio. For information about film and TV productions, the best, most comprehensive and most authoritative is Sherlock Holmes on Screen by Alan Barnes - but you have performed something like a miracle by giving us information about productions that appear to have escaped the attention of Mr Barnes. Wonderful! Thanks and congratulations on a splendid start to what will evidently be a superb series!"
— Roger Johnson, SHSL, BSI,
The Sherlock Holmes Journal, www.sherlock-holmes.org.uk