So, I’ve gotten back into reading Sherlock Holmes again, after being away from Baker Street for a couple years. And I’m still posting shelfies over at that subreddit. One, depicting a bookshelf collapse disaster from a couple summers ago, got over 36,000 views! But today, we’re gonna look at couple mystery movies I watched over the weekend.
THE PALE BLUE EYE
The Pale Blue Eye is based on a book by Louis Bayard. Christian Bale is a world-weary detective, who is brought in to investigate the death of a cadet at West Point. He is aided by a young Edgar Allen Poe, who was there in 1830-1831. So, we’ll put the movie in 1830.
Of course, there’s more going on than it appears; solving (non-military) codes is key; and there’s a major O Henry-like twist at the end. It moves along a little slowly, like an episode of Endeavour (which you know I love). But when that’s done correctly (as opposed to in Andor, and the three hour Marvel movies that could have dropped 45+ minutes easily), it’s fine.
Bale is excellent. This is probably my favorite of his of his, after 3:10 to Yuma. He is the heart of the movie. Poe is Henry Melling, who has a long theater resume. He’s an emotional, energetic Poe. Lucy Boynton (The Ipcress File, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?), Gillian Anderson (do I even need to list it?), Toby Jones (Culverton Smith in BBC Sherlock), Robert Duvall (who I didn’t even recognize!); it’s a solid cast.
I love the cinematography, as snowy, rural New York looks terrific. The night scenes along a wooded stretch of road would be perfect for Ichabod Crane and his cranium-challened equine rider. The visual look is an asset to the movie.
This is a serious mystery, and I’m not going to give anything away. I was surprised how much time was left when the main mystery was solved. Yeah – there was definitely more to come. And it’s fictional, but now we know where ‘Lenore’ came from. And, if after you watch it, you ask, “Bob, would you do what X did?” Yeah, I would.
Production was to start in the summer of 2015 for The Deep Blue Goodbye. Bale was going to star as Travis McGee in Leonard DiCaprio’s movie, based on John D. MacDonald’s knight-errant. If you’ve read me here at Black Gate, you know that John MacD is my favorite author, in any genre. I was excited to see a big-money production, with Bale.
But Bale tore his ACL at home in LA. He was working on The Big Short. Goodbye was ready to go, with James Mangold directing. They had even dressed up The Busted Flush to move to Puerto Rico. But schedules on other films were in place, and they never managed to get everybody back together. The project was killed. I’m massively bummed, as I think it would have been a good movie. And it’s ridiculous that Hollywood (and the streaming business) is ignoring John MacD these days.
I whole-heartedly recommend this somewhat-dark mystery. I’ve not read any of Bayard’s books, but he’s written several that use a historical figure, like this one does. I might check out The Black Tower, which features Eugene Vidcoq, whose story inspired several writers, including Poe, and Emile Gaboriau.
GLASS ONION: KNIVES OUT
I watched this movie, because I was looking for something after I quit Glass Onion: Knives Out, after fifteen minutes. I liked Knives Out, and was ready for this one. It has a very ADD-opening, and I was literally “WTH?” as it fired along. And I dropped it. Which worked out well, since I really liked The Pale Blue Eye.
But friends told me it got better. And I did like the first one. So, happy with the Bale movie, I sat down and resumed. And it turned out to be okay. I definitely liked the first one waaaay more. And I don’t see me ever re-watching this. But it was good enough for a couple hours. Mostly to hear Daniel Craig’s aphorisms and comments.
Craig is Benoit Blanc, the world’s greatest detective. He’s bored, and talks about how his life doesn’t work when he doesn’t have a good case. Which is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. He travels to Greece when someone (not the host) invites him to an exclusive gathering. Of course, something is up.
The host is bazillionaire Miles Bron played by Edward Norton. Norton works, but the whole movie, I kept seeing Jason Bateman in the role. Once Blanc and Miles realize something is up, Miles has him stay. The heart of the weekend is a murder mystery. Miles goes on about how complex it is, and how much work he put into it. You an guess how long it takes Blanc to figure it out.
Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista are among the cast as guests. The more I see Bautista in, the more I like him. I remember when he came into the WWE, and how physically amazing he was. He’s still huge, but the guy is a good actor.
Honestly, I think the plot is kinda stupid, which doesn’t make for a great movie. The big scene at the end felt like kindergarten stuff. So, bad start, silly ending. It’s tough for a movie to totally make that up in the middle. But Craig’s character is worth following, and that’s why I’d still watch a third one in the series.
I also re-watched Matt Frewer’s second Sherlock Holmes TV movie, The Sign of Four. I’m going to do a Frewer post some time. His performance in The Hound of the Baskervilles was simply terrible. It was improved in the follow-up. The Royal Scandal rivals some of Jeremy Brett’s good episodes. Sadly, The Whitechapel Vampire’s plot was just dumb, and the series vanished on a sour note. I like the story changes in Sign, and prefer the finale to Brett’s more traditional version. And Kenneth Welsh is one of my favorite Watsons.
I just saw that The Ipcress File is on AMC+. I’m a HUGE Len Deighton fan, and this is on my ‘Watch Soon’ list.
Some previous entries on things to watch:
The Rings of Power (Series I wrote on this show – all links at this one post)
What I’m Watching – December 2022 (Frontier, Leverage: Redemption)
What I’m Watching – November 2022 (Tulsa King, Andor, Fire Country, and more)
What I’m Watching- April 2022 (Outer Range, Halo, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans, and more)
When USA Network was Kicking Major Butt (Monk, Psych, Burn Notice)
You Should be Streaming These Shows (Corba Kai, The Expanse, Bosch, and more)
What I’m BritBoxing – December 2021 (Death in Paradise, Shakespeare & Hathaway, The Blake Mysteries, and more)
To Boldly Go – Star Treking – (Various Star Trek incarnations)
What I’ve Been Watching – August 2021 (Monk, The Tomorrow War, In Plain Sight, and more)
What I’m Watching – June 2021 (Get Shorty, Con Man, Thunder in Paradise, and more)
What I’ve Been Watching – June 2021 (Relic Hunter, Burn Notice, Space Force, and more)
What I’m Watching: 2020 – Part Two (My Name is Bruce, Sword of Sherwood Forest, Isle of Fury, and more)
What I’m Watching 2020: Part One (The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, Poirot, Burn Notice, and more)
Sherlock Holmes (over two dozen TV shows and movies)
Bob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made its Black Gate debut in 2018 and has returned every summer since.
His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.
He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series.
He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.
He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.