I love movies. My favorite movies are the stories of great characters. This past weekend I watched the new Robert Downey movie, “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.” Holmes is a character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. Holmes is also said to be one of the greatest detectives because of his logical reasoning and his use of forensic sciences.
Downey is okay as Sherlock, but my favorite movie/television Sherlock is Basil Rathbone, who starred as Holmes from 1939-1946. (Basil Rathbone: His Life and His Films, by Michael B. Druxman [Hardcover: South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes, 1975]) I am looking forward to the new series premiering this fall on CBS, “Elementary,” also based on Sherlock Holmes.
I read a lot of the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was young. It was the beginning of a love for detective stories, but the “Baker Street Irregulars,” (Holmes’ fan club,) will hate to hear me say he is not my favorite detective. I also read a lot of Agatha Christie’s stories. Dame Christie was the creator of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Chief Inspector Japp, Tommy and Tuppence, and Parker Pyne. These characters gave me many hours of my three favorite things – reading, movies, and crime dramas.
I expect you will recognize the titles of some of the books that were adapted to movies. Miss Marple was an older lady from a small town who used her worldly wits and observation skills to investigate crimes. Margaret Rutherford played Miss Marple in “Murder, She Said,” which is based on “4:50 from Paddington.” Angela Lansbury played Miss Marple in “The Mirror Crack’d.” Helen Hayes played Miss Marple in two made for television movies – “A Caribbean Mystery” and “Murder with Mirrors.” Julie McKenzie has been the current Miss Marple in a television series since 2009.
Poirot was a Belgian detective who wanted everyone to use the “gray cells” to solve crimes. Chief Inspector Japp was from Scotland Yard and helped Poirot much like Watson helped Holmes. Austin Trevor played Poirot in “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.” Tony Curtis played Poirot in “The Alphabet Murders.” Albert Finney played Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express.” Maybe the best known Poirot was Peter Ustinov, who played Poirot in six films, and David Suchet, who is the current Poirot in films and television. Suchet also played Chief Inspector Japp opposite Ustinov.
My favorite book and movie are “And Then There Were None.” This is a “locked room mystery,” a term used to describe crimes, (most often murders,) committed under what seem to be impossible circumstances. Ten strangers gather on an island for a dinner party. They share secrets from their past, and then they start dying one by one. Who is the killer? The movie was called “Ten Little Indians.” It was originally filmed in 1965, then again in 1979, and redone in 1984.
Agatha Christie’s last book was “An Autobiography” which was published a year after she died in 1976. The autobiography tells of her story from early childhood, through two marriages, and her archeological expeditions with her second husband. She is the Queen of Crime and my favorite author.
Learning is a lifestyle, and reading is the key to making it delightful and entertaining.
By: Wanda Campbell