May 22

Happy Birthday Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – A Tribute To The Prolific Genius Who Inspired Generations…

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Today is a very special day for millions of people around the world, including myself. It is the day a man we owe so very much to was born, Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. Doyle was born on May 22nd, 1859 at 11 Picardy Place in Edinburgh, Scotland to mother Mary Foley and father Charles Altamont Doyle. His early life was not exactly the picture of perfection, his father caused the family great tribulation due to raging alcoholism and psychiatric illness.

Yet despite the problems caused by his father,  Doyle went on to become a doctor after studying medicine at the University Of Edinburgh. However he didn’t stop there, he also became one of the most prolific writers in history. When I say prolific, I mean just that; Aside from the four novels and fifty six short stories Doyle wrote about Sherlock Holmes, it is estimated that he wrote an additional twenty four novels, one hundred and thirty three short stories, thirteen plays (two co-written), EIGHTY one poems and twelve pamphlets. Now that, is one productive human being.

While Doyle very much wanted to be known for his other works and interests aside from Sherlock Holmes, we all know this is far from what happened. Doyle IS, and will always be, the man who created Sherlock Holmes. This is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, Holmes is the most adapted literary character in history as well as the most prolific screen character in the history of cinema. Yes, even more that Jesus. (far, far more to be perfectly honest)

It doesn’t stop there, since day one people have believed Doyle’s beloved consulting detective to be a real person and to THIS day Sherlock Holmes still receives mail in his name at his famous address, 221b Baker Street. Choosing to write the Holmes stories from the vantage point of his friend, Dr. John Watson, is one small example of Conan Doyle’s true genius as a writer and is one of the leading factors in Holmes seeming so very real. He literally created a fictional character so well, that for over one hundred years people have insisted on his existence. Not even the crème de la crème of writers can attest to their characters literally coming to life like this.

The Many Faces Of Sherlock Holmes

The Many Faces Of Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes changed my life as a young child and continues to change the lives of millions, generation after generation. For some the change is small yet for many others including myself the change is monumental and life transforming. For those of you who know what i’m talking about you’ll know that Holmes changes the way you think, the way you view the world as well as the way you face every situation..

Over these 127 years since the Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared, he has become an international phenomenon. The stories have been translated into 84 languages, with over 5 million books published annually, and have been the model and inspiration for countless plays, movies, television series, books, and fanfiction stories not to mention having been deemed the third most read book(s) after the Bible and the Dictionary.

From the classic portrayals by Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, to the recent Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch adaptations, Sherlock is captivating more and more people daily of every age, sex and nationality. I can only hope that amidst this gigantic resurgence people are led back to the original Conan Doyle stories known as the “The Canon” of Sherlock Holmes. In this we find the staggering, unparalleled genius of the man who started it all, the prolific genius who deserves celebration today, and every day, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Conan Doyle spent the latter part of his life devoted to the study of Spiritualism, a practice in which he held strong faith. While I personally do not share his beliefs on the subject, I will say this:

 If you are listening…

Happy Birthday Doyle, Happy Birthday.

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Special Treat: Believed to be the only filmed interview with Conan Doyle - 1930

 

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Joe’s book (raising funds for Save Undershaw) ‘The Real Sherlock Holmes‘ is available at all good bookstores including Barnes and NobleAmazon, and in all formats including Amazon Kindle and now on the iPad too. Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository.

Jan 14

The Monolithic ‘Magnussen’ Mind Palace – Fact Or Fiction?

The Curious Case of the Criticized Capability

The Magnussen Mind PalaceToday on Tumblr (yes I actually opened a post this way) a blogger openly attacked the BBC’s use of the “Mind Palace” technique. They also expressed criticisms regarding the capacity of Charles Augustus Magnussen’s Mind Palace. Magnussen was of course a character in “His Last Vow,” the incredible third series finale episode of the BBC’s epic drama “SHERLOCK.”

The blogger felt the entire Mind Palace concept was an “embarrassingly overused concept” on the show and referred to the Palace as the shows Sonic Screwdriver. (If you do not watch ‘Doctor Who’ a sonic screwdriver is a devise that enables the Doctor to fix, or do, nearly anything. In this case they are using it as a metaphor for BBC Sherlock’s Mind Palace being an unrealistic easy-out for any scenario device. Also, why are you not watching Doctor Who?)

So now the plot thickened when my name was brought into the mix. Another blogger commented on the original post citing my own name and work on the Mind Palace subject to reinforce their feelings that the capacity of Magnussen’s Mind Palace was perfectly plausible. This same blogger had spoken to me before I found the post and had quoted my brief initial remarks in an additional comment before I got there and read the thread for myself.

So, time for me to share my thoughts on the aforementioned situation and subject. As well, this occurrence/debate combined with the loads of emails regarding people wanting to further their own Mind Palace capabilities have inspired a new series of Mind Palace articles I’ll be writing and posting promptly.

Pray Tell Watson! What was said?

First and foremost, here is the transcript of the original Tumblr post with the comments included:

(If you wish to visit the thread on Tumblr itself, you can do so by clicking here.)

hellotailor: This season’s big finale hinged on one of the show’s most embarrassingly overused concepts, the Mind Palace. The sonic screwdriver of BBC Sherlock. One Mind Palace aficionado was enough, but two stretches credulity to the limit. Plus, having Magnusson admit that his records are all stored in his head is just plain bad writing. Not only is it kind of implausible (seriously, not even Sherlock has that level of detail in his Mind Palace), but it’s also tantamount to inviting someone to shoot you in the head. If not Sherlock, then certainly John, who Magnusson would surely know is a gun owner. Unless Moffat was deliberately going for a Bond villainesque “I’ve brought you here so I may as well tell you my evil plan!” scene. In which case… that pretty much negates Sherlock Holmes’ power as a hero who relies on deductive reasoning to defeat his enemies. The denouement was the villain literally explaining his Achilles Heel, and then Sherlock murdering him to get rid of the problem. Not very impressive, when you think about it.

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thebodyofsherlockholmes: I disagree that it’s impossible to have that kind of information stored (although I’d have to ask Joe Riggs for his opinion on that matter), but totally agree in terms of story-writing. ————————————————– thebodyofsherlockholmes: Update: I’ve spoken to Joe (the closest person we have in the real world to Sherlock Holmes himself), and he’s confirmed that Magnussen’s mind palace is well within the realms of possibility. Joe’s written many articles and a book on the subject (http://theworldofjoeriggs.com/) and has a massive mind palace of his own, so while questioning the story writing is definitely valid, Magnussen’s mind palace itself is not unrealistic.

(Oh and thanks to the person who commented for your kind words. Too kind indeed!)

Being Joe Riggs, I’ve taken the time to speak with myself about the matter and am eager to address it. However, let me just say that I am not or have no intention of debunking the original bloggers thoughts or opinions, the feelings they expressed are their own and are as valid as anyone else’s.

However when it comes to the facts, that is another story and I wish to explore them, as well as some of my own opinions. Again I do not fault for person for disbelieving in the concept or extent of it, after all questioning the incredible is one of the true signs of a logical mind. So bravo to them for not just taking the BBC’s word for it. I digress.

 

Did someone say…

“Most embarrassingly overused concept.”

Firstly, the blogger refers to The Mind Palace as the shows most embarrassingly overused concept. I have to vehemently disagree with this sentiment for innumerable reasons. Anyone who actually has and uses a Mind Palace will ‘overuse’ it, I assure you. Once you master the technique you tend to want to use it, A LOT. It is after all an incredibly powerful and potent tool for anyone wanting to achieve high levels of memory capacity and mental acuity. Now as far as embarrassing, I see nothing humiliating about being adept at a powerful and pretty bad ass memory system, or in using it often. Nothing, what so ever. In my own opinion I was thrilled with the decision to incorporate the technique into the modern Holmes.

Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes describe his own mind like an attic, with a system

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it.” -Sherlock Holmes | A Study In Scarlet

6jHVxIf Conan Doyle even envisioned Sherlock’s mental capacity like a systematic ‘attic,’ how appropriate that a modern day Sherlock would have a similar storage system. The brilliance in the writing is choosing the Method of Loci, otherwise known as the Memory Palace, otherwise known as, you guessed it, The Mind Palace. Fair play? Good, let’s move on…

In season two’s “Hounds of Baskerville” the Mind Palace appeared for the first time. They did a wonderful job of creating a visual experience for a technique that is inherently visual in nature, on a mental level.

The palace appears again in the long awaited season premier of season three, “The Empty Hearse.” In ‘Hearse‘ we see it in a unique way near the end of the episode, John Watson is demanding Sherlock to “Use your Mind Palace” in order to save their lives by finding the solution to diffusing a bomb. Yet the genius in the writing here is the Mind Palace method coming to a FAIL. It taught a valuable lesson that holds true to real life Mind Palaces. If you don’t put (or peg) something in it, deliberately, it just won’t be in there later if you need it. Or in their case, if you life depends on it.

Upon Watson’s demand Sherlock replied true to form that he didn’t have that information stored inside and could not. He then appeared to try anyway and failed. This scene shows the limitations of the Mind Palace technique. I think showing Sherlock’s Mind Palace fail him in that scene rules out the notion of the concept being embarrassing OR overused.

As far as Charles Augustus Magnussen is concerned, if you devoted your life to storing one type of information, and a lot of it, there is no reason why you could not store what seems like the incredible. You just must look at it also from the vantage point of the difference in uses between Sherlock and Magnussen. Sherlock stores MANY types of information on INNUMERABLE subjects, all related to his work. Magnussen uses a well constructed Mind Palace,Image designed over many years, for ONE overall type of information, just massive amounts of it. This is literally no more difficult in theory than Holmes use of the method.

“Two Mind Palace aficionados stretches credulity to the limit.”

Secondly, the blogger makes the argument that having two Mind Palace experts stretched the credibility to the limit. Again, I don’t see that. There are QUITE a few Memory Palace experts in the world right now, the real world, that we live in. They break Guinness Book records and do incredible, absolutely UNBELIEVABLE, demonstrations! I perform many such demonstrations myself. So to say two aficionados colliding, both with this “mind palace” mastery, stretches credulity to the limit, basically means every-time I meet a fellow aficionado, we are stretching the credibility of our being possible together. And yet here we are, living and breathing, and…  coming into contact with each other from time to time.  ;) Next…

The Monolithic Magnussen Mind Palace

Fact or Fiction?

The Answer: Fact within Fiction.

Sherlock-series-303-Lars-Mikkelsen-Charles-Augustus-Magnussen-cCharles Augustus Magnussen’s truly Massive Mind Palace is by NO means unrealistic. Nor is it the first time vast Mind Palaces have been mentioned in fiction. Hannibal Lector had quite the extensive palace of his own. I’ve cited many real life examples of people who have done astonishing things with Mind Palaces in my articles on the subject on this very blog, which I urge anyone interested in the subject to explore. I went further into detail on the subject in my first book and am delving far deeper in the coming book “The 21st Century Deductionists Monograph.”

I myself have written more or as much on the subject than anyone I know of. Not just my published and public writings, yet rather my extensive personal journals, a result of having been obsessed with the Palace technique nearly 20 of my 33 years. I have achieved near Eidetic memory levels on various tests more than twice. I say all this so you know I do not come to you from a spectator vantage point, yet a rather through-the-lens viewpoint.

People unfamiliar with the actual method or technique, might find this next breakdown confusing. ;)

All Magnussen had to do was map out enough pegs in as many rooms as needed in his Palace of choice, or alternatively incorporate multiple Palaces to cover the load, either would work. He could (As I Have) map out the path between two Palaces and place pegs along them, furthering the information storing capacity. The real genius of the Method of Loci or Mind Palace are the nearly infinite possibilities. There is no limit to to the number Palaces you can establish, nor the multitude of pegs you can put into action.

Finally all Magnussen had to do was turn every piece of information he wanted to store into an image that represents it for pegging or employ a numerical phonetic encoding system, which I also teach on this blog, to store numbers as well. When it comes to analysing the literal work on the Mind Palace method with the portrayal of it in BBC Sherlock, this is something I’ve done continually and even contributed to.

My writings on the Mind Palace were featured in the lovely Baker Street Chronicle’s special SHERLOCK editionWhile there is no real way to prove that Magnussen’s unknown amount of specific information could be stored aside from knowing how many files and their contents he had, then endeavouring to do it, I strongly submit my personal vote of confidence that he most certainly, undoubtedly, could have.

In closing,

This Tumblr post added to the many requests I’ve gotten this past year regarding people wanting to expand their Mind Palaces and use them for new and exciting purposes has inspired a new series of Mind Palace articles in progress. A Maximum Mastery series so to speak. Thanks for reading this long winded response/post and again no disrespect and quite literally bravo to the original blogger for questioning the seemingly impossible, it is in questioning and doubting the fantastical that we delight our logical faculty and remain scientifically minded.

Thanks for your time and as always your comments are welcome.

You can also follow this blog via the button at the bottom right, yeah you see it. ;)

-Joe Riggs

 

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Joe’s book (raising funds for Save Undershaw) ‘The Real Sherlock Holmes‘ is available all good bookstores including Barnes and NobleAmazon, and in all formats including Amazon Kindle and now on the iPad too. Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository.

Dec 31

2014: The Year Of The Deductionist…

Hello friends and Happy New Year!

I’ve written this special New Years post to share with you what I’ve been up to, a monolithic project I’m sure ALL of you are going to thoroughly enjoy!

monograph

Firstly, as any Sherlock Holmes fan knows January 1st is the premier of the third season of the BBC’s epic Sherlock Holmes adaption, SHERLOCK. After two long years of waiting since the dramatic conclusion of season two, the resolution is finally upon us. Pun emphatically intended.

So with the spirit of Holmes in the air and the dawning of this new year I’ve come bringing you fantastic news. I’ve been rather quiet this year about current projects, after a couple projects I was working on last year didn’t quite pan out, I decided to start work on my lifelong dream. To write the COMPLETE work on the subject of Deduction in the 21st Century. Anyone wanting to LEARN to be able to read and deduce people like Holmes does, is going to want to have this. Yet I haven’t done it alone…

benEnter Ben Cardall: Ben is a British Mentalist and dear friend of mine, he is the only other person I’ve ever known to take the art of deduction and turn it into a serious study, and achieve phenomenal deductive abilities. I asked Ben earlier this year if he would like to co-write this monograph with me and he enthusiastically agreed. I decided for the sake of being complete I would take on Ben as a co-writer, and work on this guidebook hand in hand with the one man that see’s the world through the same lens as myself. Ben has specialty areas of deduction that I had never explored, and vise versa. The decision to write this together was an easy one.

This is shaping up to be a very long, very in depth book. Everything about a person is analyzed in depth, from shoes to hair, from tattoos to fingernails, from cell phones all the way to the creases in their clothes. We have broken down every section into easy to swallow bits. We have contributions inside the book from some VERY exciting people including Joe Navarro and Peter Turner JUST to name a couple, and that’s merely the TIP of the iceberg friends…

As many of you know I’ve spent literally my ENTIRE life turning the idea of Holmesian deduction into a real world workable skill, and rather succeeded at it. This book, this bible, this manual, this monograph, is the ULTIMATE guide to using Sherlockian Deduction in our day and age, to achieve great ends. From the Sherlock fan, to the detective, to the performer or even the police officer, this book will enable YOU to know what seems like the impossible about a person, at just a glance. Who doesn’t want that?

We are finishing up some of the more intensive areas of the book and expect to have it ready for release ideally this spring. We’ve already been literally overwhelmed with requests for this book, from just the few ‘hints’ we’ve posted online recently. I will keep you posted on the release date and be sharing some excerpts from the book over the next two months. You can also keep up to date by following us on Twitter & Facebook, links below.

Happy New Year friends!

monograph2

is Coming To A 221B Near You!

My Twitter: @WorldOfJoeRiggs

My Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ILikeJoeRiggs

Ben’s Twitter: @BenCardall

Ben’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/BenCardallUkMentalistmindreaderhypnotist

 

 

 

Dec 17

The Inspiring Case of The Happy Life Story.

Friends,

I’m going to be making a pretty big announcement within the next few days but first I would like to share something very inspiring, and powerful with you. Those of you that have been following my blog for some time will know that I’ve never shared anything quite like this, nor have I ever asked you to participate in anything. However, I feel compelled to share with you, the inspiring case of The Happy Life Story.

My book has been out over a year now and I’m still receiving wonderful and often rather moving emails about it, from those who have made use of it. I even noticed a few days ago some new reviews on Amazon that really touched me. Yet it’s not my book I want to talk to you about, it’s rather, my book’s publisher. Steve & Sharon Emecz of MX Publishing. They believed in me and my work from day one, and I would like to share with you a bit of their, work, that you will surely believe in.

photo-mainThey are writing a book to share the amazing story of the Happy Life orphanage in Nairobi in Kenya which supports abandoned children. It started in 2000, and now today the orphanage has two locations and has supported over 150 children, with around 60 being currently supported through the adoption process.

This month, December, Sharon and Steve are travelling to Happy Life to spend Christmas and New Years helping out with the children, and are obtaining more research into the Happy Life story. Sharon first visited the orphanage in February 2013.

From January to June Sharon and Steve will then compile and write the book including personal stories from some of the children that have been adopted in Kenya, Australia, Holland and Germany. The book will be published in September 2014 in paperback and ebook formats.

They have a Kickstarter project to help fund this terrific endeavor, and are halfway there!

Pledges can be anonymous and from £1. Pledges of £15+ qualify for a free copy of the book.

MX Publishing itself is funding the travel and accommodation costs (around £3,000) to Kenya.

Please, if you are so inclined and wish to make a difference right now, visit their Kickstarter page via the following link:

The Happy Life Story Kickstarter Project.

 

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

-Joe Riggs

 

 

May 26

Peter Cushing As Sherlock Holmes: A Force To Be Reckoned With…

Pipe-used-by-Peter-Cushing-as-Sherlock-HolmesToday marks the 100th birthday of the brilliant, and quite literally prolific actor, Peter Cushing. This week droves upon droves of bloggers around the world are taking part in the “Peter Cushing Centennial Blogathon.” This post is my humble contribution. It will certainly be of no surprise to my readers that I’ve chosen to share my thoughts and ramblings concerning his Sherlock Holmes related work. Cushing as Holmes, I feel, should not be overlooked or underestimated. Yet it can very easily be overshadowed by Cushing’s more, legendary, roles.

Cushing appeared in well over 100 films. He was Baron Frankenstein and Dracula’s arch enemy, Dr. Van Helsing. Speaking of ‘doctor‘ he was also Dr. Who, Dr. Terror, Dr. Blyss, Dr. Maitland and Dr. Perry. He fought The Mummy and he pursued The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas. He was the Sheriff of Nottingham, Sherlock Holmes AND Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. On television, he was Winston Smith in Orwell’s 1984 and he appeared in Space: 1999 as well as The New Avengers. Also, let us not forget that in the first Star Wars film, he was the cold Grand Moff Tarkin who ran the entire Death Star and one of the only people to ever tell Darth Vader what to do. Peter Cushing was P R O L I F I C to say the least!

Cushing didn’t trade quantity for quality either, his portrayals are captivating and enormously adored. He poured himself into each and every role and it shows. From his first film job in 1939 to his narration of a documentary about Hammer Films a week before his death in 1994, the man never stopped. But I digress, we’re here to take a look at his portrayal of the legendary consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Hammer Time…

resized_hound_of_the_baskervilles (1)Peter Cushing’s first appearance as Sherlock Holmes was in the critically acclaimed 1959 Hammer Film production of “The Hound Of The Baskervilles.” It was directed by Terence Fisher and also stars Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville and André Morell as Doctor Watson. This was also the FIRST Sherlock Holmes film to ever be seen in color!

In true ‘Hammer‘ style this adaptation had a very gothic/horror feel to it. In my opinion Cushing and Lee are absolutely magical together. They appeared side by side quite often throughout the years, most notably in the Frankenstein & Dracula movies also by Hammer Film Productions. Their real-life friendship and mesmerizing chemistry was quite clear in this rather dark adaptation of “The Hound Of The Baskervilles.” This was the first film I saw Cushing in as Holmes, and remains one of my very favorites to this day.

Worthy Of Note:

Peter Cushing was an aficionado of Sherlock Holmes and brought his knowledge to the film. It was Cushing’s suggestion that the mantle feature Holmes’ correspondence stabbed into it with a jack-knife as in the original stories by Conan Doyle. Now that is a man after my own heart! If you have by chance, NOT seen this film, then please forget this blog post altogether and go see it straight away. It is well worth your time.

The Game Is Afoot…

Nine years after Hammer‘s classic take on The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Peter Cushing reprised the role in the second season of the BBC Sherlock Holmes television series. Cushing filmed sixteen episodes, two of which were a new interpretation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, this time with Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson.

51YdKU4GbSLThis series started out as Sherlock Holmes in 1964 with the pilot being an adaptation of The Speckled Band which was aired as part of the series called ‘Detective.’ In it we have Holmes played by Douglas Wilmer and Watson played by Nigel Stock. It was a wonderful production which returned as a full series in 1965 starting out with The Illustrious Client.

Wilmer played Holmes for the entirety of the first season spanning 1964-68, appearing in 13 episodes. While this post is dedicated to Cushing I would like to take a moment to comment on Wilmer’s version. Wilmer was no less than brilliant in the role as Holmes, setting a very high bar for Cushing (and all others) to later follow. Also worthy of mention is how much Wilmer uncannily resembled the drawings of Sherlock Holmes from Conan Doyle’s original stories, illustrated by the great Sidney Paget.

However wonderful his rendition was and still is, the truth is Wilmer absolutely hated the part. Do not misunderstand though, Wilmer loved Holmes and is to this very day a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. His problems lied in the scripts of the series, which he and Nigel Stock often rewrote. He also had a major issue with the amount of time given to rehearse for each episode (as did Cushing actually) and when BBC asked Wilmer if he wished to do more, he declined. It was sad to see him go yet without his leaving we would not have the tremendously exciting appearance of Peter Cushing in the second series.

Worthy Of Note: 

Wilmer played author Jacques Futrelle’s Holmesian detective Professor Van Dusen in The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes for ITV. In 1975 he once again appeared as Holmes (albeit in a supporting role) in Gene Wilder’s The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, with Thorley Walters as Dr Watson. For all of you BBC SHERLOCK fans, Wilmer made a camero in the final episode of the second season titled The Reichenbach Fall!

The Lost Cushing Episodes, A Blunder Of Epic Proportions…

As I stated above Cushing appeared in sixteen episodes of this wonderful series. Sadly back in the 1960s Britain’s BBC television network routinely and arbitrarily degaussed (erased) all video recordings of its own programs, in many cases failing to preserve even a SINGLE archival copy. Do to this EPIC lack of forethought only SIX of the SIXTEEN Cushing episodes survive. Those are as follows: A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles (parts 1 & 2), The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Sign of Four & The Blue Carbuncle.

sherlock-holmes-bbcIn my opinion Cushing is brilliant as Sherlock Holmes in these five surviving stories. He brought to the role his trademark brand of class, elegance and air of authority. His captivating voice and seemingly chiseled from stone facial features were perfect for the role in my honest opinion. Truth be told I still get a fuzzy feeling when i hear him pronounce ‘Trichinopoly Cigar’ in A Study in Scarlet. Yet again I must digress.

I considered doing a break-down of each episode for this article yet decided not too. There are plenty of articles that exist with that very purpose and my mission here is to focus on Cushing as Holmes overall, rather than write an article about one particular adaptation alone. In my opinion these five remaining stories spanning six episodes are among the finest Sherlock Holmes portrayals in history. Of course there will always be those would disagree with this, considering the deviations taken from the original texts. Yet is that not what an ‘adaptation’ is free to do?

Even Cushing himself was not particularly happy with his performances overall. He stated that the hectic schedule along with his wife’s failing health were a constant distraction to him and affected his performances. However in my opinion, and in the opinions of legions of others, he did a truly remarkable job given the circumstances. At the end of the day it’s about what the viewer thinks, especially considering there is no higher critic of ones work, than oneself. Peter may have felt he could have done better, yet this Mentalist/Blogger protests that if those episodes were Cushing-off-his-game, then I can not even begin to imagine what Cushing-on-his-game would have looked like. I watch this series on DVD at least once a month to this day and it is always, always, a thrilling experience.

I only wish all of the episodes could have survived to this day, I would give nearly anything to see them. In my opinion someone at the network deserves a damn, good, lashing. Having said that we’ll move on…

Worthy Of Note: 

Prior to Cushing’s role as Sherlock in this wonderful series, he played CREATOR of Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1976 film “The Great Houdini.”

Later in life, Nigel Stock who played Dr. Watson opposite Wilmer & Cushing portrayed the mentor of Sherlock Holmes in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes written by Chris Columbus.

The Return Of Peter Cushing As Sherlock Holmes…

In 1984 at age 70 Peter Cushing once again dawned the deerstalker in “The Masks of Death.” Masks was directed by Roy Ward Baker and featured John Mills as Doctor Watson.

masks-death-peter-cushing-vhs-cover-artExecutive producer Kevin Francis had originally attempted to raise funds for a new version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. He intended to cast Cushing as Holmes which would be Peter’s third take on the Doyle novel. Funding for the film collapsed and led to Francis discussing an original tale with writer Anthony Hinds. Cushing considered Sherlock to be a favorite role but his age required the part to be written for a much older Holmes.

“The trouble is that I’m 70, far too old to play Holmes as he appears in the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.” said Cushing.

The film takes place in 1913. Sherlock is in virtual retirement and is persuaded to take on a baffling case by Alec MacDonald of Scotland Yard. Three corpses have been found in London’s East End with no visible cause of death. But, judging by the expressions on their faces, they died in conditions of unspeakable terror. Despite Cushing’s age in this film he YET AGAIN delivers spectacularly in my opinion.

Cushing appears to be as razor sharp as ever. His age seems to be of no consequence to him, this is truly a man who gave every role his all, to the very end. To this day when I think about Sherlock Holmes in retirement, moving to the country and taking up beekeeping as a hobby as outlined by Doyle in the original stories, I envision Cushing from this film. We always knew Holmes had one day retired, yet never lost his insane drive for adventure and mystery. To me this film captures that very premise splendidly, and of course Cushing drove it home with a breathtaking performance. As I sit here writing this I am reminded that it has been a while since I saw this film last, and have now made it a point to watch it tonight. It really is a very well written and exciting Sherlock Holmes adventure. Well done Peter, as per usual.

Worthy Of Note:

This is also the first Cushing-Holmes film to feature the character of Irene Adler, a name which every Sherlockian knows very well. The only female to ever best the sleuth, and the closest thing to a love interest Holmes ever had.

There were plans for a followup entitled The Abbot’s Cry but the film never materialized due to Cushing’s declining health.

Final Thoughts…

I have been obsessed with Sherlock Holmes my entire life. I’ve watched more Holmes films than the average person would even imagine exist. From Gillette, Wontner, Massey, Owen, Rathbone, Brett and even Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes has been played by some of the greatest actors in history. Peter Cushing stands tall among them.

Generation after generation every actor has brought their own flair to the role, setting the bar higher and higher for the next one to fill those shoes. Cushing certainly catapulted that bar high into the air every time he put on that famous deerstalker hat. He is a force to be reckoned with among this legion of giants. His style and charisma never fail to transport me to a magical place. Thank you Peter Cushing for doing such justice to my lifelong hero, Sherlock Holmes.

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You have to have a sense of humour, darling, to be alive. Even a bit mad. It helps to be mad.”

-Peter Cushing

The New Peter Cushing Centennial Stamp

The New Peter Cushing Centennial Stamp

 

 

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Joe’s book (raising funds for Save Undershaw) ‘The Real Sherlock Holmes‘ is available all good bookstores including Barnes and NobleAmazon, and in all formats including Amazon Kindle and now on the iPad too. Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository.

 

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