It was on the first of December 1887, in Beaton’s Christmas Annual, that Sherlock Holmes made his debut with A Study in Scarlet, changing the history of popular literature forever.
I will refrain from talking about how Holmes was a central character in the building of my growth as a reader, as you can probably find other Holmes-related posts linked below through WordPress’ handy algorithm. To celebrate the birthday, anyway, and to start the Christmas season in the right mood, here’s the BBC 1968 adaptation of A Study in Scarlet, featuring Peter Cushing as Holmes. Enjoy!
And so yesterday night, after ordering a pizza, I sat down and re-watched a movie variously known as Captain Clegg or as Night Creatures, a 1962 Hammer movie featuring Peter Cushing and Oliver Reed. And if Cushing and Reed aren’t reason enough to watch a movie, well, sue me.
But it’s actually better than that, because Captain Clegg was not to be a movie about a guy called Captain Clegg or going under the alias of Parson Blyss – but then Disney got in the way. Follow me…
I was watching Brides of Dracula last night. The 1960 Hammer movie directed by Terence Fisher does not feature Dracula at all – the Count is name-checked in the title and in the spoken intro – and given for dead – and the main vampire in the picture is Baron Meinster (David Peel), on the rampage in search of young women’s blood in an out-of-the-way corner of Transylvania. It’s a good fun movie, with a lot of original touches, despite the presence of a very dodgy bat. And of course there’s Yvonne Monlaur, that is absolutely gorgeous, in the role of student teacher Marianne Danielle – the damsel in distress of the piece, all the way from Paris to Transylvania to get in a whole lot of trouble.
And we get Peter Cushing, reprising his role as Doctor Van Helsing. Maybe.
So, the idea was proposed to do a few posts about movie franchises that never started. Movies, mostly shot in the 1980s, that were all set up to be the Next Star Wars, the Next Conan or the Next Indiana Jones, but for some reason (usually a mix of ineptitude, lack of funds and madness) went nowhere, and sometimes entered the legend.
And I like very much the idea, and I think I’ll start with a movie that believed so much in its First in a Series status, that it proclaimed it in the title itself – well, at least in some countries. Today it is considered a cult movie by some, and one of the most ludicrous movies ever by others. The fact that it came with a very well established pulp cred, and it featured Peter Cushing in his last big screen role, only make the whole a lot more painful.
The movie is of course the 1986 Biggles, sometimes known as Biggles, The Adventure Begins (ah!), but also as Biggles: Adventures in Time.
My friend Lucy published today a nice lengthy piece about the 1939 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
You can find the post here, and read it through the usual Google Translate thingy. It’s excellent, and it raises an interesting question, by noting that The Hound of the Baskervilles is treated as a proper Gothic story, an old dark house film.
This got me thinking about the connection between the Canon and the Horror genre, and so while clouds gathered and the storm approached, heralded by thunder and lightning, I brew myself a cup of hot tea, and I took a look at the other Hound, the one that was unleashed on the moors, in the full shocking splendor of Technicolor, by Terence Fisher, with the assistance of the fine gentlemen of Hammer Films.
The first Holmes movie in color.
Another Gothic adaptation, featuring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
It was, if you recall, the year 1959. Continue reading →
This is the Weekend of Long Shadows, as we celebrate the birthdays of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price.
I will not bore you explaining how much these three gentlemen kept me company as a kid. There was a time when their movies were everywhere and at least once a week you’d be able to catch on of their works on the TV.
To celebrate these old friends, I’ll be re-watching three of their movies today.
First, The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, featuring Peter Cushing.
Then, The Mummy, featuring both Cushing and Christopher Lee.
And finally, The Raven, with Vincent Price (and Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre, and Jack Nicholson…)
The 1965 take on H. Rider Hagard’s She was the most expensive Hammer project to date, and they could pull it off only because, after much searching, MGM agreed to foot the bill.
After all, it was to be a vehicle for Ursula Andres, that three years before had caused quite a splash as the first Bond Girl ever in Dr No.
And so, yesterday being Andress’ birthday and all that, I watched the old movie again, and it was just as much fun as the last time I’d seen it. It’s not exactly a Tits & Sand movie, despite the fact that both ingredients figure prominently in the mix (but in a classy way). Continue reading →