Tag Archives: mystery

The greatest Sherlock Holmes adaptation is not the one you’re thinking of……

Over the years there have been numerous adaptations of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. And some adaptations deserve more credit than others, and some adaptations are indeed more popular than others. But one of the older versions of the stories of Sherlock Holmes that deserves recognition is one that did not even come from the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Based on the book by Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan), came “The Seven Percent Solution”.

Unlike many other Sherlock Holmes stories, this particular tale attempts to address one of the greatest flaws of what could arguably be called fiction’s greatest detective. His drug addiction, mostly regarding cocaine.

Alan Arkin, Robert Duvall, and Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

In the story, Holmes his addiction reaches new lows. So his colleague Dr. Watson and Holmes go to Vienna for consultation from one of his peers. The acclaimed psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud. Together, the three of them, while attempting to aid Holmes in his drug addiction. Holmes attempts to help Freud solve a mystery regarding one of his patients.

Alan Arkin and Robert Duvall in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

Right off the bat, what actually makes this movie interesting is that this is primarily a story about Sherlock Holmes himself. Where as other Sherlock Holmes stories or other person’s stories with Holmes happening to be in it. It’s one that actually attempts to further explore the motivations and personality of the hero moviegoers have known for decades.

Robert Duvall and Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

No why is this story so important? Because some of the more recent adaptations of Sherlock Holmes do not necessarily address his drug issue as a problem, and indeed a couple adaptations even show it as a superpower. Attempting to glorify the horrible things Holmes does to his body to alleviate the boredom.

Alan Arkin in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

We primarily see this in both the Robert Downey Jr. 2009 version, as well as the BBC series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch. But as far as recent adaptations are concerned, the only one that ever really shows homes is addiction as a real problem, is the CBS series “Elementary” with Johnny Lee Miller in the part.

And this is a real issue that translates into today’s society. Another famous adaptation based off of Sherlock Holmes loosely, was the fictional Dr. Gregory House played by Hugh Laurie. From the TV show “House”. Showing his drug problems with an almost lightheartedness to the point where we are OK with him indulging in these narcotics. Not really issuing how much of a problem it really is.

Robert Duvall and Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

In this bold attempt to see Holmes in a new light, this story dares to go where most versions today won’t dare go.

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Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Rear Window” (1954) Who is the Woman in Black?

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!!SPOILERS!!

Throughout the film, we follow the hero, L.B. Jefferies as he tries to uncover the mystery of the disappearance of his neighbor’s wife, from the confines of his apartment and his wheelchair. As the audience, we explore this world Hitchcock has created and are making discoveries about it as the movie unfolds. As the details of the murder unfold, so does the truth of the woman’s murder.

In this way, Hitchcock creates one form of suspense. For a great portion of the film, Jefferies is the only one who believes the woman was murdered. His cop friend Doyle, doesn’t believe him. Even his girlfriend Lisa doesn’t at first. But what’s really interesting is the one clue that doesn’t prove that Mrs. Thorwald was murdered. It’s the one clue that tears a hole right through Jefferies’ theory..

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Earlier in the movie, while Jefferies starts to see that something strange is going on Something happens, that only we, the audience know. Our hero sees, Thorwald leave his apartment multiple times in the night, and the sudden disappearance of the invalid Mrs. Thorwald. We see these things too, which aid in our suspicions on Thorwald.

So what did we see, that he didn’t see?

Well the answer is at about 36 minutes and 13 seconds into the movie…

It’s late at night, and everyone’s presumably asleep, we see Thorwald and a woman dressed in black leave his apartment. The camera pans back into Jefferies’ apartment revealing he’s asleep and didn’t see this occur.

This is the second type of suspense Hitchcock creates. Because it’s the one clue that points out a flaw in Jefferies’ crime solving. The woman could very well have been Mrs. Thorwald, leaving the apartment. And if it wasn’t, who was she?! Possibly it was Thorwald’s mistress (which is heavily suggested later in the film).

Doyle confirms that eyewitnesses saw her leave the next day. 

As Jefferies says, “A second hand version of an unsupported story from the murderer himself.”

One of the greatest mysteries of Rear Window.

Who is the Woman in Black?!

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Sleepy Hollow” (1999)

The infamous “Tree of the Dead” from Tim Burton’s film Sleepy Hollow appears again in another Burton film, “Alice in Wonderland”.

Joe’s Character Analysis: Johnny Smith from Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone”

It is been said that a film is only as great as it’s villain. This can be true in many cases. It certainly is the truth in many of the works of author, Stephen King. In most of the films that have been adapted from his work, we have various and very memorable villains. It could be very easy to forget heroes which he has also written in his books. People forget, especially in the world of movies, that is the human elements which give the story it’s true strength, and not necessarily the supernatural parts. Stephen King’s human heroes are really where the power of his stories comes from. But in all fairness the scares are a pivotal part as well.
 Enter Johnny Smith. From King’s story, and David Cronenberg’s film adaptation in 1983, of “The Dead Zone.”

 In the story , Johnny Smith is a simple schoolteacher who is the result of going into a coma five years, awakens with psychic powers. One touch, and he can see someone’s past, present, and future. In the story, it has Johnny uncovering cases and going through certain events in his new life discovering both who he is now in the world, and what his powers can accomplish. This includes solving murder cases, and political conspiracy.

 There are many layers to Johnny as the story goes farther and farther. It’s worth mentioning first and foremost that he is a reluctant hero . He did not ask for these powers, and there are probably parts of the story where he regrets having to use them. But in using them and in accomplishing the deeds that he does , he discovers a little bit more more about himself.

The very name Johnny Smith implies that he is the everyman. Therefore as a representation of the average person, it’s fair to say that he in fact is a representation of every individual audience member who either watches the movie, reads the book, or even watches the TV series that is loosely based off of both. 

 As the story continues, Johnny Smith becomes less of the average, everyman and more more of an outsider.

 What else is very fascinating about the character of Smith, is that he follows a sort of character arc not too dissimilar from Brandon Lee’s portrayal of the undead hero Eric Draven, in “The Crow”. Smith is a man who was awoken from a coma after five long years. It really begs the question, how exactly does somebody reintroduce themselves into a world, and into a life, that is essentially already learned how to live without them? So Johnny’s mission in life is not only finding out how to use his powers, but also how to find a new meaning in his life . This quality makes him one of the most sympathetic heroes ever created by Stephen King . As stated before, it is the human elements and not necessarily the supernatural ones that make, not just Stephen King stories, but also horror, mysteries, thrillers, etc. into good movies and good stories altogether.

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” (1994)

There’s a scene in the film where Ace’s friend Woodstock refers to Ace as “Saint Francis”.

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals.

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “The Mothman Prophecies” (2002)

This film is partially based on real events. While the main characters and the time are fictionalized, from November 1966 to December 1967 the citizens of Point Pleasant, West Virginia claimed to have multiple encounters with a winged, red eyed creature. The people there dubbed him, “Mothman”. The creature allegedly gave warnings of a disaster that was coming. On December 15th, 1967, the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, which crosses the Ohio River, collapsed into the river, killing 46 people. Some people say the Mothman did it.

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Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Sleepy Hollow” (1999)

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Originally, Johnny Depp wanted to wear prosthetics in the role of Ichabod Crane, with big ears and a long nose as Crane is described in the original story. But director Tim Burton thought it would be funnier if Depp remained handsome as he was and act like a total wimp.
(Crane faints at least 5 times in the movie)