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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Psych of the Dead

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: Psych of the Dead

Psych_CastEDITEDI could not figure out what to write about today. I re-watched Paul Newman’s Harper, and thought about a post on that – especially since I recently re-read the autobiography of screenwriter William Goldman. And I saw Unholy Partners, a good hardboiled newspaper flick with Edward G. Robinson and Edward Arnold. I re-watched three versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles (Ian Richardson, Peter Cushing, and Jeremy Brett), and Bruce Campbell’s My Name is Bruce. I read Mark Latham’s Sherlock Holmes – Van Helsing novel, Betrayal in Blood. I started Robert E. Howard’s Cormac Mac Art stories, which I’d not read yet. I even started typing about Fortnite, the phenomenon with over 350 MILLION registered accounts – I play as a way to connect with my soon-to-be teenage son. But none of those subjects ‘clicked’ for this week.

I was sitting, looking at the well over a thousand books in my home office drawing a blank. I had a case of writer’s malaise. For Halloween, I watched a couple episodes of Psych, and I’ve decided to write about that. This isn’t one of my in-depth series’ looks, like I wrote for Leverage, and Hell on Wheels. But we’ll still talk about one of my favorite detective shows.

The premise of Psych is that Shawn Spencer (played by James Roday) has Sherlock Holmes-like powers of observation. Growing up, his dad (a terrific co-starring performance by Corbin Bernsen) was a hard-nosed cop who taught his son by locking him in the trunk of the car, challenging him in a restaurant to close his eyes and tell him how many diners are wearing hats, and the like. In the pilot, circumstances force Sean to pretend those observational skills are actually psychic revelations. He has to continue the charade to avoid jail. It sounds ridiculous, but they make it work well enough in the pilot.

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The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: At the Movies with Basil (Rathbone)

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes: At the Movies with Basil (Rathbone)

RathboneColor_RathboneeditedI started writing a regular column for Black Gate in March of 2014. I’ve covered a lot of ground, but today we’re going to try something new. Earlier this year, I was watching Casablanca (yet AGAIN) on TCM, and I decided to do do a running commentary about it on my FB page. I know a LOT about that movie. TCM showed it again a little over a month later, so I did it again. It was fun.

I decided to do the same thing with a Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movie. But I watched it on Youtube, which let me pause it while I typed comments, and took screenshots. That worked satisfactorily. During Casablanca, I was so busy (mis)typing comments, I missed half of the movie.

So, this is a mix of my running commentary, with more information and fun stuff added in during composition of the essay. It’s a hybrid, but not as detailed as I normally write. We’ll see how it goes as we look at two films: Terror By Night, and The Scarlet Claw. I already wrote a full post on the second movie. I just felt like watching it again.

Of course, all fourteen Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce were black and white. But colorized versions, both official and not, have been around for a while. I watched colorized versions of both films, via Youtube. Terror By Night was done by TCC (Timeless Classics now in Color). They’ve got a bunch of movies on their website. And the quality of this one was excellent. The best colorized Holmes I’ve seen. The Scarlet Claw was by ATC, and it was muddy.

TERROR BY NIGHT

We start with number eleven of twelve in the Universal Pictures series. Only one more Holmes movie remained, as Rathbone, tired of being typecast, walked away from the franchise (and the associated radio show).

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William Goldman’s Hollywood Adventures

William Goldman’s Hollywood Adventures

Goldman_PrincessBrideEDITED

Today, I’m going to take a week off from A (Black) Gat in the Hand. And no, not to dust off The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes. I constantly read. Often related to my weekly column here at Black Gate. A thousand words every Monday morning takes some research. And I like to ‘read now’ to start future projects. And I read ‘how to’ books to try and bolster my fledgling attempts at writing fiction. And I do Bible study. So, I don’t read ‘just to read’ that much these days. Which is fine. I like reading the stuff I do. But sometimes, I just want to pull something off of the shelves solely for enjoyment’s sake. And it’s often something which I’ve read before.

I read two books just for fun last week. And since a big part of why I write for Black Gate is to introduce people to things I think they might be interested in, I’m going to talk about those two books. William Goldman, who passed away in 2018, was a very successful screenwriter (that’s short for ‘screenplay writer’ – Nero Wolfe would not approve!). Harper, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, Misery, Maverick, Absolute Power: the guy knew what he was doing. And he was a novelist first – not only did he write the screenplay for The Princess Bride, he adapted it from his own novel.

In 1983, Goldman published the best-selling Adventures in the Screen Trade. It is simply a FANTASTIC book. It is an honest, compelling memoir from a Hollywood insider who remained an outsider (he never lived in California. He would go there to work, but he always returned to NYC). And the book contains insights into screenwriting, as well. I read it about twenty years ago when I decided to teach myself how to write screenplays (I’ve written a couple. That’s all we need to say about that). I really liked it.

And last week, re-reading it, I liked it even more. In 2000, there was a followup: Which Lie Did I Tell?. And it is also a fun, absorbing read. Anybody who enjoys movies should read these books.

Goldman was sure The Great Waldo Pepper was going to be huge. And as he’s sitting in a screening, he realizes why it didn’t fly (see what I did there? Helps if you actually saw the movie). He dishes the inside scoop on the battle over the hobbling scene in Misery (if you haven’t read King’s story, the source material is brutal). We learn that Clint Eastwood stood in line to get his lunch at the cafeteria while filming and producing Absolute Power. Just like a normal person. Goldman explains why he walked out on The Right Stuff (the only time he quit a project).

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A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Some Hardboiled Streaming Options

A (Black) Gat in the Hand: Some Hardboiled Streaming Options

“You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.” – Phillip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)

Today, I’m going to talk about two streaming sites for your hardboiled/noir lock down needs. And then, a third site with a show I really dig. First, up:

WATCH TCM

BrotherOrchid_LobbyCardI have recently spent a lot of time on Watch TCM. It can be streamed free on your PC and Smart TV, and you can download the app for mobile devices.

Most movies running on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), are posted on Watch TCM within several hours of airing. Some which they sell, like Casablanca and Key Largo, are not posted, and movies generally drop off after a week. You can watch any movie listed, as many times as you want, free. If you have TCM through your cable provider, you can watch the east coast and west coast feeds live. So, if you miss something on the east coast, you can still catch it later on the west coast. This is good for the ones that don’t end up posted.

I’m obviously a hardboiled/noir fan, and May’s Star of the Month is Edward G. Robinson. Which has resulted in a plethora of movies in that genre, plus other non-genre movies from stars like Robinson, Bogart, and Ida Lupino.

Thursday is Star of the Month day, and in less than 24 hour period from last Thursday afternoon, the following movies were posted:

All Through the Night (Bogart), The Hard Way (Lupino), The Return of Doctor X (Bogart), The Whole Town’s Talking (Edward G. Robinson), A Slight Case of Murder (Robinson), Larceny, Inc (Robinson), The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (Robinson, Bogart), and Brother Orchid (Robinson, Bogart).

And the previous Thursday’s haul remained up until Friday, and it had some VERY good stuff as well. Last Monday’s post was about a bunch of the movies showing through the rest of May. Check it out.

Of course, there’s far more than hardboiled/noir, which is my favorite area. As I type this, there are two Marx Brothers movies, and one from The Bowery Boys. They had a musical day, so Yankee Doodle Dandy and several others are up. I will always watch Mister Roberts when I can. There are relatively ‘newer’ classics, such as Network, and Coma, as well. It’s not just all old black and white movies.

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Vintage Trash: Reel Wild Cinema Free Online (and Legal!)

Vintage Trash: Reel Wild Cinema Free Online (and Legal!)

rwcinema

As many of you will remember, back in the 1980s and 90s there was a huge increase of interest in old B movies. People of my generation who had grown up watching “Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster” on rainy Saturday afternoons, or snuck down to the TV room to catch Creature Features on the late late show, were now in college or work and had money to spend. Suddenly VCRs across the nation were being filled with monster films, 1930s exploitation films, Italian Mondo films, and every other kind of vintage oddity. It was a wave of ironic nostalgia that put the later hipster movement to shame.

Magazines like Psychotronic Video and Cult Movies Magazine were crammed with articles about obscure directors and their output, along with lots of great movie stills and posters. There were also ads for various film distributors, one of the most popular being Something Weird Video.

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Segundo de Chomón: Forgotten Fantasist of Silent Film

Segundo de Chomón: Forgotten Fantasist of Silent Film

Voyage to Jupiter, 1909.
Voyage to Jupiter, 1909.

Fantasy, science fiction, and horror themes have been in the movies since almost the beginning. During the first few experimental years, movies consisted of simple scenes such as a man sneezing or a train pulling into the station, but soon that novelty wore off and audiences wanted stories. Since the medium itself seemed almost magical, directors began to experiment with the fantastic in order to tell gripping tales.

Most film buffs know of Georges Méliès and his 1902 Trip to the Moon, generally considered the first science fiction film. Méliès started out as a stage magician so it’s not surprising he added an element of the fantastic in his pioneering movies. Other early filmmakers such as Auguste and Louis Lumière and Thomas Edison tended to film realistic subjects or historical/adventure stories, although Edison did make a version of Frankenstein in 1910.

Lost amid these famous names is a man who did as much for the development of fantastic film as any of them. The Spanish director Segundo de Chomón pioneered many early special effects techniques and worked on some two hundred films. Having spent much of his career in France and Italy, he’s been claimed by no country and thus has fallen through the cracks of history.

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