Saturday, November 7, 2015

An Amazon bargain: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadow Watchers

When I was an internet lad, you used to be able to search Amazon for Sherlock Holmes related Christmas gifts without being presented with a link to a B-minus Holmes film that your Amazon Prime account would start up with just a click.

So it was that I found myself watching Sherlock Holmes and the Shadow Watchers, a 2011 production that has "community theater" written all over it. An original tale, Shadow Watchers features a Sherlock whose idea of an experiment is holding his breath until he passes out, an Inspector Lestrade who bums whiskey off beat constables, and a Watson that . . . well . . . might have actually made a passable Watson with some better casting around him.

Shadow Watcher's Sherlock seems more like a country parson with a Holmes delusion than the real deal. Of course, this Holmes, like the one in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, freely admits that Watson's writings embellish him somewhat. So if you take it as a "Watson-embellished" Holmes, about anyone can play him.

Lestrade, however, is quite an idiot, even for Lestrade: "Someone will have to face justice for this, Raleigh, and I've told you, it's not going to be me." This Lestrade seems so incompetent that he might actually arrest himself by mistake. (His second suspect, after Raleigh, is Paganini.)

If Nicolo Paganini, however, had heard the violin-scraping that this Sherlock passes off as a Paganini tune, I suspect he might have made a new deal with the devil to have the cast and crew of this film taken to a special hell.

The mystery isn't too mysterious, as like many a TV show, we see the killer doing the killing. And prostitution in Shadow Watcher's London must pay well, as even when the journalist Raleigh tells the prostitute he's in love with that he can take her away from "all this," he's doing so in front of a marble fireplace in a a room with some posh Victorian furnishings.

Sherlock Holmes and the Shadow Watchers is one of those movies that seems best played with a little alcohol and friends. In one scene, Holmes and Watson are sitting together in a fashion that looks, for all the world, like Watson is Holmes's ventriloquist dummy. In another scene both night and moving fog look to have been laid in in post-production. And there's a red-robed cardinal who just won't shut up.

"Wait! I'm the bloody policeman!" Lestrade calls out, chasing after Watson during the exciting conclusion, like he's trying to direct the film from within. (The actual director is the Sherlock Holmes of the film, Anthony D.P. Mann. Holmeses are often their own directors, it seems.)

"A mummfied bog-man" is mentioned in the wrap-up as their next case, after much ado from the bad-acting Lestrade over no one talking about the current one, however, and I actually found myself wanting to see that case as well, so I guess there was something to recommend in this Canadian production . . . at least if you have an appreciation for a certain level of cinema.

And it was approved by the Conan Doyle Estate.

But now that I've seen it, it won't be going on my Amazon Wish List. Back to shopping.

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