Saturday, August 3, 2013

Live and let Sherlock?

Maybe I should watch a Sherlock Holmes movie when I want a Sherlock Holmes movie. Earlier this evening, I tried watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a James Bond film, which is surprisingly easy. After that, I pulled up Live and Let Die, and then found myself watching it as a Sherlock Holmes movie.

The movie opens with Roger Moore going on his very first mission as James Bond to New York City, which is probably what started the whole train of thought. After all, Moore's first (and only) mission as Sherlock Holmes took him to New York City as well.

There's references to voodoo, the Ku Klux Klan, and a prime minister . . . all things Holmes encountered at some point. "Mr. Big" seems to be the Moriarty of Harlem in this oddly blaxploitation Bond outing. I could put all those down to an overactive Sherlockian imagination. But when Bond's first overnight on the case involves someone sending a speckled band of a snake slithering down the shower hose to kill Bond in the tub, if becomes apparent that somebody behind this movie was definitely borrowing from Conan Doyle.

And then, in practically the next scene, when Bond's female acoomplice finds an ominous Baron Samedi hat on her bed, Bond dismisses it as "belonging to a small headed man of limited means who lost a fight with a chicken" in a fashion so close to a Sherlock Holmes observation that one has to wonder if it didn't spark his casting in Sherlock Holmes in New York three years later.

At that point, Bond's investigation has him making love to first the double-agent Rosie, then the card-reading Solitaire before the same day is out. It's hard to pull anything Sherlock Holmes-ish about an investigative technique centering on trading sex for information (unless one counts that odd little incident with Agatha the maid in "Charles Augustus Milverton"), so the movie quickly loses its Sherlock mojo.

There's a car chase involving a double-decker bus with the steering wheel on the right side, which at least brings a British note to the proceedings, but not necessarily Holmes-ish. The boat chase which eventually comes after it might spark a comparison to the boat chase in The Sign of the Faur, except for the fact that Bond is being chased and not doing the chasing. But perhaps The Sign of the Four isn't so far off after all, as there is a villain who seems to have lost a limb to a crocodile, just like Jonathan Small of that tale.

But from there it's all Bond-ish silliness, and extracting the Holmes from Live and Let Die becomes nigh impossible. Like I said at the start, when I want to watch a Sherlock Holmes movie, I should watch a Sherlock Holmes movie.

But with that "Speckled Band" moment hiding in a favorite from my childhood . . . well, sometimes Holmes just finds you anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. "The Speckled Band" was my first introduction to The world of 1895 and The snake keeps coming back to me too.
    Great review of the James Bond Sherlock Holmes picture. I have now become a ardent fan of your blog(If that is the right term). Thanks for your hard work in putting them together. Even through I think it is a labor of love but still hard work.