Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Subtle Hilarity of Sherlock Holmes

My best friend has got me hooked on the British Granada TV produced version of Sherlock Holmes shot in the 80’s and early 90’s. Unlike the latest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. that prizes action over thought, this version is slow, tame, and well uhh…very British. It more or less exemplifies Eddie Izzard’s hilarious take on British cinema with its subtle drama.

When watching it with this in mind the series becomes fantastically amusing in its overwhelming British-ness. It delivers all the old world stuffiness that one would expect from that famous British stereotype.

Jeremy Brett plays the foppish, heroin-smoking, and eccentric Sherlock Holmes perfectly. My best friend pointed out what is perhaps the greatest scene in the entire series. In a rare spot of action, Holmes engages in fisticuffs like a true gentleman in the Solitary Cyclist.

After being taken by surprise, Sherlock Holmes quickly regains his composure, sheds his impeccably tailored tweed coat, and loudly proclaims his fight as an act of self-defense. In the midst of beating wholesale ass, Sherlock Holmes haughtily declares, “Only a ruffian deals a blow with the back of the hand. A gentleman uses a straight left, and I sir am a gentleman.”

Check out the clip below to see it for yourself. The action really begins around 2:06.

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