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The Voice In My Head - Sherlock Holmes

edited October 8 in Ask an Expert

With a heading like this a little explanation is in order so members don't think I'm a raging schizophrenic.

The voice of Sherlock Holmes is not literally in my head barking out instructions or guiding my every move - but the voice I'm speaking of is the voice of the actor I hear when reading a Sherlock Holmes novel.

Like many pipe smokers I've been a Sherlock Holmes aficionado for as long as I can remember. For me it started as a kid watching both the half hour TV series staring Ronald Howard as Holmes and Marion Crawford as Watson, as well as the popular movie series featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

In my neck of the woods, which would be the Chicagoland area, the Rathbone and Bruce series seemed to air on WGN (Channel 9) each Sunday afternoon, and my father would never miss a Sherlock Holmes movie. So Dad was the reason for my affinity for Sherlock Holmes. It's something we shared together - and until his death last year we swapped movies and new books that would turn up from time-to-time. I always knew what to get him for his birthday and Christmas ... something Holmes related.

And speaking of birthdays, I even celebrate the birthday of this fictional character each January 6th with a day long Holmes film festival (with as many different actors playing the role as I can squeeze in), a couple bowls of my own concoction Mrs. Hudson's 221B Bakery Blend, and occasionally a bottle of British ale.

I love most any Holmes film regardless of the actors (although the very early movies you find in the Dollar Store with Arthur Wontner are my least favorite), but my all time favorite Holmes movie is "Murder By Decree" with Christopher Plummer as Holmes and James Mason as Watson.

Yet my favorite actor to portray Holmes is Jeremy Brett. He really seemed to fit Conan Doyle's description to a tee.

So why is it that when-ever I read one of the new Sherlock Holmes adventures I discover written by a bevy of authors hoping to carrying on the Conan Doyle tradition ... the voice in my head reciting those written words is always the Holmes/Watson combination of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce?

I'm currently reading a collection of tales in the book "The New Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes" (which is not all that new - it was published back in 1987), and as I was reading I realized I was hearing the voice of Basil Rathbone uttering Holmes lines. And I found it quite odd, since I prefer Jeremy Brett as the definitive Holmes. Maybe because Rathbone had the role before Brett. It sure couldn’t be he appeared in more Holmes adventures because Rathbone appeared in 14 movies while Brett appeared in 41 episodes of the Granada series. Or possibly because Rathbone was my first introduction to Holmes. Maybe that Sunday afternoon Universal Sherlock Holmes movie series I watched as a kid ingrained his voice in my memory.

Or maybe it's something more profound - a film series that bonded a father and son - who may have had many differences - but on Sunday afternoon shared a common passion for a certain consulting detective.

I consciously tried replacing that inner voice with that of Jeremy Brett - but it always transitioned back to Rathbone by the end of the paragraph. So rather than fight it - I simply let Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce settle in and be the characters which come to life on the pages of my book.


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