This is the third article celebrating Chaplin’s 125th birthday and 100th anniversary of his films. Read my others here (Doctor Who and Chaplin comic book review) and here (matching music to his unreleased “How to Make Movies”)
Chaplin as Billy, age 14 (though he looks 12 to me.
When I became a Charlie Chaplin fan in 1991, one of the *very first things* I learned about him was his role in the 1901 Sherlock Holmes play written by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I had been a Sherlockian for 5 years by then and was thrilled that my new “obsession” had a connection, one of many (and growing!) I would later discover.
William Gillette, in his Holmes garb
Chaplin was born on April 16,1889, in Lambeth, London, England, at the beginning of the Sherlock Holmes publishing era. the year before the publishing of the second Holmes story, “The Sign of Four”. After living for some time in poverty, he gradually got work as a child actor (both his parents were stage performers). He wrote in his My Autobiography (1964) how he lied about his age to get a part in a H A Saintsbury play, A Romance of Cocknaye, saying he was 14, when he was actually 12 1/2. The manager of the production and cast liked him so much they offered him the Billy the Pageboy role. So from July 1903 to February 1906 he traveled the country performing the part. (Holmes trivia: The pageboy in the original stories did not have a name until after the play was made. It would have been interesting if Doyle named him Charlie!)
The argument over “Who’s the best Sherlock Holmes?” is nothing new, though the names change over time. Back in his day, Chaplin worked under two of the starring Holmes’: William Gillette and H A Saintsbury. He wrote in his “My Autobiography” that while he liked both, he felt Saintsbury was closer to the “real” Holmes.
List of the cast (including Chaplin as Billy), as they performed at Duke of York’s Theatre, circa 1905
Want to see the play? Here it is, performed in 1981 for HBO. Frank Langella plays Holmes (very well, I must say!) My favorite scene (Act 3, pt 2), which includes some great interactions with Billy, is embedded below:
(side note – the boy playing Billy in the above performance is a young Christian Slater)
The Great Dictator (1940) – Chaplin as Hynkel (center), Reginald Gardiner (left) as Schultz, and Henry Daniell as Garbitsch (right)
While he had other roles in his early childhood showbiz career, none seemed to have stuck with him later in his life than the Billy role. Decades later in 1939 when he was shooting his Hitler satire, “The Great Dictator”, he would re-enact scenes from the Holmes play in-between scenes for the movie to entertain the cast and crew.
One of the actors in Dictator was Henry Daniell, who later who appear in three of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films: Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943), and The Woman in Green (1945, playing Professor Moriarty, the role I best remember him for.)
Which also brings us to Nigel Bruce. Chaplin hired Bruce for his 1952 film, Limelight. Bruce was hired not only because of his talent but mainly because of his strong connection with the Holmes franchise having famously played Dr. Watson.
Basil Rathbone (left) as Holmes, Nigel Bruce (back, center) as Watson and Henry Daniell (right) from Voice of Terror (1943)
In the film Limelight, Bruce plays Mr Postant, an homage to the real life who was William Gillette’s stage manager, and who had played an important role of keeping an eye out for the young Chaplin during the Holmesian days.
I have often felt that if he played Watson like he later played Postant, Watson would have been considered less bumbling. Below is a clip from Limelight which not only includes Bruce, but also Claire Bloom (many years later she would costar with David Tennant in Doctor Who, “The End of Time”), and Buster Keaton who plays Calvero’s partner (Keaton’s Holmes connection is making the brilliant 1924 silent film Sherlock Jr.)
One of the reasons why I picked using the name Calvero on the internet, and have kept it for almost 20 years, is the Holmes connection (along with Keaton, and the later Doctor Who connection,
To Modern Times
In 1992 came Robert Downey Jr playing the title role in Sir Richard Attenborough’s “Chaplin”. Absolutely brilliant! And he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor (he was ROBBED! ROBBED, I tell you!). Downey did such a great job, that most of the time I forgot I was watching someone else playing Charlie.
Fast-forward 17 years and he was picked by Guy Ritchie to play the lead in Sherlock Holmes, which, honestly, sounded a little weird. For Chaplin, he played someone who was about 5’4″. And years later he plays someone who is described by Watson as being at least 6 feet tall. Either way, I did (and still do) enjoy his take on the Great Detective. He did win a Golden Globe for “Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy” for his portrayal of Holmes (a category I still don’t understand how he won, but he won it. So, YAY!)
Chaplin and Holmes meet once again
On season 2, episode 1 of BBC’s excellent show Sherlock, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, John Watson’s girlfriend Jeanette is played play by Charlie’s granddaughter (Geraldine’s daughter), Oona Chaplin. When I was first watching the episode, I didn’t know who the actress was but there was something about her… I couldn’t put my finger on it. She seemed familiar, and at the same time not familiar. When I immediately re-watched the episode for the second time (because it was so mind blowingly awesome), I paid more attention to the ending credits, and the name “Oona Chaplin” jumped out at me. I threw my arms up in the air and shouted “WOOOOOOOHOOOO!!!” and did a happy dance. And so a new Chaplin comes face to face with the great detective.
Close encounter of a Sherlockian/Chaplinesque kind: Aidan Quinn
Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller), Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), and Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) from Elementary
Another recent connection (though not as strong as the above ones, but still there) is CBS’s newest take of the Holmes and Watson interpretations in Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes, and Lisa Liu as Joan Watson (that’s right, a female Watson…a very good one), which premiered during Holmes’ 125th anniversary (2012). Co-starring is Aidan Quinn who plays Captain Thomas Gregson of the NYPD.
Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson), Sam (Johnny Depp), and Benny (Aidan Quinn)
Almost 20 years earlier (1993), Quinn played in an adorable movie that also starring Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Matherson, Benny and Joon (released just a few months after Downey’s Chaplin.). Quinn plays the older, and pretty protective brother, Benny to Matherson’s Joon who slowly falls in love with Depp’s Sam who is a eccentric person who is obsessed with Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
The comparison between Benedict Cumberbatch and otters is well known (even to BC), but a lesser known comparison is him and Chaplin. Tumblr user lenoesque compared facial expressions of ol’ Benny and the Little Tramp.
What kind of connections will show up later? Who knows. What I do know is that they keep popping up from time to time. And if I notice them, I’ll create a “Part 2”.
Are there any that I missed? Just leave a comment
Posted in Charlie Chaplin, classic comedy, Nostalgia, Sherlock Holmes, television Tagged with: BBC Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, Charlie Chaplin, Doctor Watson, Elementary, Martin Freeman, PBS, Robert Downey Jr, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes
Firstly, I am not connected to the BBC, PBS, or anything like that. I’m just a fanof both the show and the original stories :). This is not an official list, just one that I put together on my own. 🙂
I have discovered that doing these differnces betweeen the original BBC version and the recut PBS version is like those cartoons in the paper where there are two pictures, but with six differences, and your job is to notice them. In fact, there is a Sherlock version of that game: the Sherlock Observation Game. (I keep getting the rank of DI Lestrade…. I feel insulted!… yes I”m kidding, of course…sorta).
But this “game” is different in that it’s video, and the total amount of edits are unknown (to me, anyway). So there is that challenge.
This is my second go (or fourth, if you count episodes rather than seasons). Go here for A Study in Pink (includes screenshots), The Blind Banker, and The Great Game
I will say though that this is done for fun. I’m not ranting away at PBS who,I later learned from Steven Moffat himself, did not make the cuts:
Though I do wish they would have played it “as is”. But yes, the DVD and Netflix will have the full version, just like the first season. (YAY!)
(Note – I have done a basic clean up of my notes so there are bound to be a few mispellings. I only have included a small number of the screenshots, the rest of those will be added later. And I’ll add more of my opinions on the importance of the cut scenes later.)
And awaaaayy we go:
Based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The opening credits. This wasn’t a change but a pleasant surprise that the PBS version kept the same opening credits, unlike the first season.
Right after Sherlock questions about John blogging “The Geek Intrepter” (haha! Pun on The Greek Intrepreter”), it cuts to John and Sherlock examining a dead woman on a slab in the morgue:
(Note to self: Must make above image wallpaper for laptop….. Done!)
Sherlock: Do you think people actually read your blog?
John: Where do you think our clients come from?
Sherlock: I have a website.
John: In which you write about 240 different types of tobacco ash. Nobody’s reading your website.
Sherlock gives John a cold hard stare. Both rise from bending over the body, John still looking at the woman, Sherlock still giving John a mean look.
John: Right then. Died. Blonde hair. No obvious cause of death, except for these speckles, whatever they are.
In the middle of John’s observation, Sherlock turns, still iriitated, walks out of the room, followed by Lestrade.
Importance – We begin to see the popularity of John’s blog growing, just as in the canon Watson’s stories also became more popular.
More blogging at Baker Street
John is sitting at his laptop typing away again in his blog. Sherlock comes around from the kitchen, paper in one hand, food in another. He looks over to John, walks over to read what John’s writing
Sherlock: Oh, for Godsakes. The Speckled Blonde?
Then walks away. John stops typing and looks up.
Cut to scene of the two little girls in Baker Street telling Sherlock and John about their grandfather.
Importance – Somwwhat. Shows the buildup of Sherlock’s irritation of John’s writing. Which is very similar to how Holmes felt about Watson publishing about their cases.
Even more blogging in Baker Street
Sherlock confronts John about writing about the unsolved cases.
John “This blog has had almost 2000 hits within the last 8 hours. This is your living Sherlock! (cut) Not 240 types of tobacco ash.
Sherlock: 243 (puts his saftey glasses on and flares up his handheld flamer (for lack of a better word).
I think it’s time, don’t you?
Merging from the scene of Irene Adler calling someone on her phone to the (nice!) crane shot of the exterior of 221B. Just a couple seconds, barely noticeable.
Also a cut of Mr.s Hudson cleaning up the flat by taking a mug and a jug of milk (eww!) off the mantel.
Boys, you got another one!
After man comes in and then faints, Mrs. Hudsonshouts out to the boys and then sympathitically bends over and looks down at the man and lets out a “ohh”
Helicopter for John
After Sherlock’s leptop is closed, John is told that a helicopter was landing for him. The below shot is cut.
The gentleman walking in and placing down Sherlock’s clothes in front of him is cut as well.
Later, at Buckingham Palace…
After John joins Sherlock on the couch. John notices Sherlock is not wearing any pants, they laugh, he then looks around
John: Buckingham Palace. (cut) I’m seriously fighting an impulse to steal an ashtray. (cut ends)
They both giggle more.
Mycroft introduces the case to Sherlock and shows him pictures of Irane Adler
Mycroft: There are many names for what she does. She prefers dominatrix.
(cut) Sherlock (still looking at the photos): Dominatrix…
Mycroft: Don’t be alarmed. It has to do with sex.
Sherlock (sharply looking up at Mycroft): Sex doesn’t alarm me.
Mycroft (smugly smiles): How would you know?(cut ends)
A couple minutes later…
Sherlock: Where is she?
Mycroft: In London, currently. She’s staying…
Sherlock: Text me the details. I’ll be in touch by the end of the day.
(cut) Harry: Do you really think you’ll have news by then?
Sherlock: No, I think I’ll have the photographs
Harry: One can only hope you’re as good as you seem to think.
Sherlock then looks at him and makes the following deductions about Harry —
- Dog Lover
- Horse Rider
- Publis School
- Early Riser
- Left Side of Bed
- Half Welsh
- Keen Reader
- Tea Drinker
Sherlock: I’ll need some equipment of course.
Mycroft: Anything you require, I’ll have it sent…
Sherlock (interrupting): Can I have a box of matches?
Harry: I’m sorry?
Sherlock: Ot your cigerrette lighter,either would do (holds out his hand towards Harry)
Harry: I don’t smoke.
Sherlock: No, I know you don’t but your employer does
John (looks confused, then looks down)
Harry (reaches into his pocket and pulls out a lighter): We have kept a lot of people successful in the dark about this little fact, Mr Holmes.
Sherlock: I’m not the commonwealth (turns to leave)
John: And that’s as modest as he gets. Pleasure to meet you (turns and follows Sherlock (cut ends)
Both leave the room
Later in the cab
John: Okay, the smoking. How did you know?
Sherlock: The evidence was right under your nose John. As ever, you see but do not osberve.
John: Observe what?
Sherlock (reaching into his coat and pulls out…) An ashtray (flips it in the air)
Both of them laugh
Pictures are shown being taken by someone of both men in the cab (cut ends) and then a shot of Irene holding her phone, looking at them.
Breakfast at Baker Street
Sherlock, John are sitting at the table. Sherlock reading the paper, John eating. Mycroft is facing them, standing in front of the fireplace.
Mycroft: How can we do anything while she has the photographs. Our hands are tied.
Sherlock: She’d applaud your choice of words. (cut begins) Do you see how this works? That camera phone is her ‘get out of jail free’ card. HAve to leave her alone. Treat her like royalty Mycroft.
John: Though not how she treats royalty (cut ends)
Holmes’ phone makes a ring, the sound of a woman’s gasp
A Christmas evening with the gang
A couple seconds of Sherlock playing the violin from the beginning of the crossing over from the last scene to the Chrstimas scene.
After Sherlock hangs up with Mycroft and John comes in to check in on him
John: You ok?
Sherlock: Yes (and closes the door. (cut) (He stares out while walking back to his bad)
Shot to Mycroft, still holding his phone, staring out of the window as the snow falls. Then turns and walks away.
At Bart’s Morgue
A couple seconds cut from Sherlock and Mycroft walking down the hall to the morgue.
Later when Sherlock and Mycroft walk out, there’s a second of Molly (poor Molly!) cut. The nice camera shot of the back of Sherlock’s head through the morgue’s window is shortened.
After Sherlock and Mycroft wish each other Merry Chirstmas and Happy New Year, Mycroft stays inthe hallway and calls John who is still at 221B.
Mycroft: He’s on his way. Have you found anything?
John: No. Did he take the cigerrette?
John: (with a sigh) Shit (turns around to Mrs. Hudson) He’s coming. Ten minutes.
Mrs. Hudson: There’s nothing in the bedroom.
John (back on the phone) No, it looks like he’s clean. We’ve tried all the usual places. Are you sure tonight’s the danger night?
Mycroft: No. But I never am. You have to stay with him John.
John: Uh, I’ve got plans.
Mycroft: Nooo. (and hangs up)
(back to 221B) John: Mycroft…Mm (hangs up his end and turns toward his girlfriend who is sitting on the sofa. He joins her) I’m really sorry.
Jeanette: You know, my friends are so wrong about you.
Jeanette: You’re a great boyfriend.
John (taken by surprise, looks away) Ok, that’s good. (turns back to her) I always thought I was great.
Jeanette (looking at her watch): Sherlock Holmes is a very lucky man.
John (makes an exasperating sound): Jeanette, please.
Jeanette: No I mean it. It’s heart warming. You’ll do anything for him. (gets up to leave) You can’t even tell your girlfriends apart.
John (gets up and follows her to the door): Look, I’ll do anything for you. Just tell me what it is I’m not doing!
Jeanette: Don’t make me compete with Sherlock Holmes!
John: I’ll walk your dog for you. I said it now, I walk your…
Jeanette: I don’t have a dog!
John (in a loud whisper to himself): Because that was the last one…okay.
Jeanette: Jesus! (picks up her things and walks out)
John: I’ll call you.
John: Okay ( and walks back inside)
Mrs. Hudson: That wasn’t very good, was it?
Importance – Helps show more of Mycroft’s and John’s concern for Sherlock. Not happy that the scene with John and Jeanette was cut. I am a gigantic fan of her grandfather, the legendary Charlie Chaplin (yes, *that* Charlie Chaplin). And there are multi-faceted connections between Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chaplin which I will write about in a future post, one of them being that as a boy he was in the Sherlock Holmes play as Billy the page during the very early 20th century.
Later at 221B
Exterior shot of the outside of 221B with a cab driving by is cut. John is sitting in his chair reading a book. Sherlock walks in, looksing dazed. John puts down his book and turns around.
John: Oh, hi.
Sherlock stands in the doorway, slowly looks around the room.
John: You okay?
Sherlock still looks around and walks away.
Sherlock: Hope you didn’t mess up my sock index this time.
John turns forward, puts his book down, and rubs his hand on his face, sighs, and rests his face in it. (cut ends. Yup from Mycroft calling John up until now was cut)
Next shot is of Sherlock playing his violin and writing down music in front of oen of the long windows in the living room. The first shot of the hallway is cut.
After Sherlock attempting and failing with the 1895 passcode, John mentions that he’s going out.
John: Well, I’m going out for a bit.
Sherlock continues to playin, not replying to him. John walks to the kitchen where Mr’s Hudson is claening up. He picks up his keys off the table.
John (talking a little above a whisper): Listen, has he had any kind of girlfriend, boyfriend, a realtionship? Ever?
Mrs. Hudson( also talking just above a whisper): I don’t know.
They both look toward Sherlock who is still playing the violin, his back to them.
John turns back to Mrs. Hudson.
John (in a somewhat frustrated tone): How could we not know?
Mrs. Hudson (shrugs): He’s Sherlock. How will we ever know what goes on in that funny old head?
John smiles, and they both turn toward Sherlock again.
John (tosses his keys a little into the air): Alright, see ya.
He turns and walks out. (cut ends) Mrs. Hudson looks at Sherlock again while the sound of John’s footsteps are heard going down the stairs. She walks out of the room.
221B exterior. John walks out the front door and starts walking down the sidewalk. A woman in a black dress is standing outside calls out to him.
John: (turning around. The sounds of Sherlock’s violin can still be heard) Yep? (sees woman) Hello.(then struck by her looks. Slower, he speaks again) Hello.
Woman: So. Any plans for New Year’s tonight?
John (slying smiling): Ahh (looks behind him then back to her). Nothing fixed. Nothing I couldn’t heartlessly abandon. You have any ideas?
The woman looks behind her.
Woman: One. (cut ends) A black car pulls up right next to where they’re standing. He shakes his head a little.
John looks over to the car and then walks towards it.
John: You know, Mycroft could just phone me, if he didn’t have this bloody, stupid, power complex.
Sherlock to the rescue
A couple seconds is cut of Sherlock looking up the stairs with a look of quiet seething on his face
Importance – minor. Perosnally, I am glad that this scene was not cut more than that. This is my favorite scene in the episode :).
After Sherlock sprays and headbutts the gunman, the is a couple cut of Sherlock looking back at the gunman after checking Mrs. Hudson and the black car pulling up and John getting out.
Later when John is attending to Mrs. Hudson’s injuries, the gunman’s shadow is seen falling and a crashing sound is heard.
Mrs. Hudson: Oh, that was right on top of my bins!
The groaning of the gunman from outside is cut out
X-raying the phone
A couple seconds are cut out near the end of the scene with Sherlock and Molly.
The trio at Baker Street
After Sherlok and John finding Irene asleep in Sherlock’s bed, they begin to ask her questions.
Sherlock: So who’s after you?
Irene: PEople who want to kill me.
Sherlock: And who’s that?
(cut) John: It would help yif you were a tiny bit more specific.(cut ends)
Sherlock: So you faked you’re own death in order to get ahead of them?
Irene: It’ll work for a while.
Sherlock: Except you let John know you’re alive and therefore me.
Irene: I knew you’d keep my secret.
Sherlock: You couldn’t.
Irene: But you did, didn’t you?
Irene: Where’s my camera phone?
John: It’s not here. We’re not stupid.
Irene: (cut) Then what have you done with it? (cut ends) If they guessed you got it, they’ll be watching you.
Dear me Mr. Holmes, dear me.
A few seconds of Mycroft sitting with a look of worry on his face is cut.
Catching a flight
A souple seconds are cut from the car that is driving Sherlock to the plane.
After the confrontation with Mycroft and Irene, there’s a couple seconds of the plane’s exterior that was cut.
An unlikely meeting place
In the rain, John and Mycroft meet in front of the Speedy’s sandwich shop. A couple seconds are cut from the time Mycroft steps on his cigerrette to after John follows him int othe cafe.
Another second is cut after Mycroft mentions that initially Sherlock wanted to be a pirate.
Last couple seconds of silence at the end of the scene are also cut.
John hands over Irene’s phone
Sherlock: That her phone?
John: Yes, I was just about to take it back. (looks at Sherlock who has gone back to sitting at his microscope) Do you want to…?
Sherlock takes a deep breath. John quietlystands there, still holding Irene’s file and phone, looking at Sherlock. A couple seconds is cut of him standing there.
John: Listen, actually….
Sherlock: No, but I will have the camera phone then. (He holds out his hand while still looking through his microscope)
John (looking down at the pile of Irene’s file) But there’s nothing on it any more. It’s been stripped.
Sherlock: I know, but I…(moves his hand again towards John, still looking through the microscope) I’ll still have it.
(cut) John: I’ve gotta give this back to Mycroft. You can’t keep it…
Sherlock, still holding out his hand. (cut ends)
John: Sherlock, I have to give this to Mycroft. It’s the government’s now. I couldn’t…
Sherlock (still holding out his hand): Please.
John looks at Sherlock’s hand and then back to him. He thinks about it and then goes inside the clear plastic bag and pulls out the phone and puts it in Sherlock’s hand.
Sherlock: Thank you (all while still looking thorugh his microscope.)
Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Sherlock Holmes Tagged with: BBC, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, PBS, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle