rusty_armour (rusty_armour) wrote,

  • Mood:
  • Music:

Pop Sherlock Exhibit

I was fortunate enough to check out the Pop Sherlock exhibit at the Toronto Reference Library on Friday. And when I say “check out,” I really mean that I pored over every item obsessively. I’m pretty sure the Sherlock Holmes: Classic Themes from 221B Baker Street soundtrack was on its third loop by the time I finally left the exhibit. You’ll understand when you see all the pictures. Those of you who remember my post on the Adventures with Sherlock Holmes: Life and Times of the Master Sleuth exhibit will know what I’m talking about.

Pop Sherlock celebrates Sherlock Holmes’s status as a pop icon and the lasting influence he has had on popular culture for more than a hundred years. Thanks to the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, visitors to this exhibit can see books, comic books, movie scripts, movie posters, TV stills, and so much more. The collection is divided into the following sections: Holmes on Stage, Holmes on Film, Holmes on the Small Screen, Sherlock Holmes Around the World, Sherlock Holmes in Advertising, Sherlock Holmes and Superheroes, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Animated Sherlock Holmes, and A Warmer, Fuzzier Sherlock Holmes.

The first part of the exhibit provides some background information on Sherlock Holmes, such as the setting of the stories, a list of Holmes's allies and adversaries, and famous Sherlockian accoutrements.

Okay, this is a humidor and a set of matchboxes, but they demonstrate
how much Sherlock Holmes has become a part of popular culture.

Sorry. This isn’t easy to read. If you’re really curious, you can find
Watson’s list of Holmes’s strengths and weaknesses in A Study in Scarlet.

There have been plays, musicals and even a ballet written about Sherlock Holmes.
This case contains playbills and programmes for some very memorable productions.

Programme for a 1905 production of William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes at the Duke of York’s
Theatre. A very young Charlie Chaplin (listed in the programme as “Charles Chaplin”) played Billy.

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is Leonard Nimoy as Sherlock Holmes on
the cover of that programme. He appeared in a 1976 Royal Shakespeare Company
production of William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes at the Auditorium Theatre in Denver.

1901 sheet music for the music hall song “Sherlock Holmes, D.T.”

Programme for a 1902 production of Sheerluck Jones or why d’Gillette him off? at Terry’s
Theatre in London. This is obviously a parody of William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes.

Programmes for Sherlock Holmes: the Musical (Cambridge Theatre, 1989)
and Baker Street: a Musical Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Broadway
Theatre, New York, 1965). Fritz Weaver played Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street.
Various tracks from both musicals can be found on YouTube.

Photograph from the 1981 production of Crucifer of Blood at the Ahmanson
Theatre in Los Angeles. This production is probably most notable for its cast,
which included Charlton Heston as Sherlock Holmes and Jeremy Brett as his Watson!

The character of Sherlock Holmes has appeared in over 150 movies. The very first movie to
feature Sherlock Holmes was a one-minute short film from 1900 called Sherlock Holmes Baffled:

This is one of my favourite Basil Rathbone films. I think
it’s a lot of fun, and I’m a sucker for movies set on trains.

Not my favourite Sherlock Holmes film, despite the appearance of a young Judi Dench in
the cast. A better film involving Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper is Murder by Decree.

My absolute favourite Sherlock Holmes film of all time

Guy Ritchie’s take on Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes fans seem to either love this film or hate
it. As I think it’s brilliantly hilarious, I’m in the love camp.

A beautiful Italian film poster for The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

A Hungarian film poster for Young Sherlock Holmes, which was released
as Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear in the Europe. As I
think the pyramid/Egyptian temple is one of the best things about the
film, I can understand why it was marketed this way.

Pressbook for The Speckled Band (1931), a film
in which Raymond Massey played Sherlock Holmes

Pressbook for The Scarlet Claw, a 1943 film featuring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes.
The original title for the film was Sherlock Holmes in Canada, but Universal obviously
believed that wouldn’t sell (though, apparently, Sherlock Holmes in Washington wasn’t a
problem). The film contains cringeworthy stereotypes of Canada (such as men dressed as
lumberjacks) and some confusion about Quebec geography, but many consider this to be
the best of the twelve Universal films.

A pre-production script for Sherlock Holmes in Canada

Press kit for A Study in Terror

Sherlock Holmes has also made a huge impact on the small screen. Even when the original stories themselves aren’t being adapted, there have been numerous references made to the Great Detective. You only have to watch a show like House to see that. Sherlock Holmes first appeared on the small screen in The Three Garridebs, a 1937 National Broadcasting Company adaptation of “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs.” It starred Louis Hector as Holmes.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data plays Sherlock Holmes (with Geordi La
Forge acting as his Watson) in the holodeck. In one very memorable episode (“Ship
in a Bottle”), Professor Moriarty escapes the holodeck and seizes control of the ship.

My very favourite Holmes (Jeremy Brett) and Watson
(Edward Hardwicke) from the Granada Sherlock Holmes series.

And David Burke comes in a very close second in the favourite Watsons category.
This is a promotional still from the Granada adaptation of “The Final Problem.”

Jeremy Brett in a promotional still from the Granada
adaptation of “The Adventure of the Priory School.”

Some of the gorgeous covers from the Japanese Sherlock “A Study in Pink” manga series:

Sherlock Holmes is popular around the world. The original stories have been
translated in several languages – and the influence has gone even further than
that. Various countries have put their own spin on Sherlock Holmes, releasing
books, films and merchandise that reflect their cultures.

A copy of Arsène Lupin vs. Herlock Sholmès, a 1910 novel by Maurice Leblanc

A Mexican comic from 1974 called A un milímetro del crimen casi perfecto
[One Millimeter from an Almost Perfect Crime]

Muhammed Said Abdulla’s Mzimu wa watu wa kale [Shrine of the Ancestors] is a 1960 novel
out of Nairobi that contains very Sherlockian elements, even though it is set in rural Tanzania.

Sabri Özakar’s Imdat [Help] is a 1954 novel featuring a Turkish version of Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Shellingford fights crime in a futuristic era in Tantei opera mirukii hōmuzu on sutēji
[Detective opera Milky Holmes on stage], a 2012 comic by Koko Natsuki.

An egg decorated in the Lithuanian tradition by Ramute Plioplys. It
features the dancing men code from “The Adventure of the Dancing Men.”

A Sherlock Holmes nutcracker from Steinbach, Germany

First edition English translation of O Xangô de Baker Street, a Portuguese novel
by Jô Soares from 1998. In this story, Sherlock Holmes is working in Rio de Janeiro.

A traditional Japanese maneki neko with a Sherlockian twist

Not surprisingly, Sherlock Holmes has appeared in hundreds of advertisements. He’s been used
to sell everything from cigarettes to airlines. Some of these ads have to be seen to be believed:

Canadian ad from 1971 for Labatt 50

Television still from a 1971 commercial for Imperial Oil

Sherlock Holmes is the original caped crusader. Not only does he fight for justice, but he is a prototype for many of the superheroes that were to follow. Over the years, both DC and Marvel have recognized Sherlock Holmes’s popularity and what the character can contribute to the comic book universe:

Marvel comic from 1976 based on The Hound of the Baskervilles

A robotic Sherlock Holmes named “Factor X” is
introduced in this issue of The Man Called Nova from 1978

The 50th anniversary issue of “Detective Comics” (DC Comics, 1987)

1976 issue of The Joker in which an amnesiac actor named Clive
Sigerson believes he’s Sherlock Holmes and the Joker is Professor Moriarty

Dan Day created this artwork for “The Adventure of the Dancing Men,” which was
part of a comic series that was closely based on the original Sherlock Holmes stories.

Even Arthur Conan Doyle has earned a place in popular culture in his own right. Arthur Conan Doyle has appeared as a character in TV shows like Murdoch Mysteries and as the main character in two series of Murder Rooms: Mysteries of the Real Sherlock Holmes. He also appeared in Howard Engel’s novel Mr. Doyle and Dr. Bell.

Unfortunately, not all depictions of Arthur Conan Doyle are flattering...

Sherlock Holmes has appeared in many, many forms in animated cartoons and films. The exhibit curator, Peggy Perdue, has argued that all a Sherlock Holmes avatar needs is a deerstalker cap, Inverness cloak and magnifying glass – and she’s absolutely right. Any animal or inanimate object becomes instantly recognizable with any of these Sherlockian accoutrements:

Scott McRae’s original art for The Hunt of Baskervilles, a Looney Tunes
DC comic from 1992. Daffy Duck makes his first appearance
as Doorluck Homes in the 1956 animated feature “Deduce, You Say!”

Animation cel for Sherlock Hound (circa 1984). Hayao Miyazaki
was the original writer/director of this Italian-Japanese TV series.

Porky Pig as Doctor Watkins (Warner Bros., 1984)

Drawing and production cel for a 1992 episode of Goof Troop called “Sherlock’s Goof.”

Original artwork for an issue of Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies
from 1947 with Bugs Bunny dressed in a Sherlock Holmes costume

Eeee! Eeeee! Animation cel painting from The Great Mouse Detective!

Facsimile artwork of Douglas the Elephant dressed as
Sherlock Holmes (from Mark Thurman’s City Scrapes, 1983)

Sherlock Holmes is a merchandising darling, especially in terms of children’s toys. I should
know. I own some of them. And now I covet some of the items that are on display in this exhibit!

“Elementary, My Dear” Pocket Dragon (Real Musgrave, 1995)

Pink Panther toys (Talbot Toys, 1982)

Detective Pusheen (Gund, 2016)

Those of you who have suffered through my action figure stories will no doubt recognize Giant
Radioactive Sherlock Holmes (a.k.a. Philosophers Guild Sherlock Holmes Little Thinker doll)

Bearlock Holmes (North American Bear Company, 1989)

Baker Street Ir-Rag-ulars Sherlock Holmes (Dis-Guise No Limit, 1978)

Detective Snoopy (Determined Productions, 1977)

I thought I had managed to escape the exhibit entirely when I came across a display case outside the TD Gallery full of facsimile covers for pulp magazines featuring Sherlock Holmes. In the early twentieth century, various European pulp magazines tried to cash in on the popularity of Sherlock Holmes by creating lurid stories of their own. Some of these magazines used Sherlock Holmes’s name for the main character and even claimed that the stories were penned by Arthur Conan Doyle. The facsimile covers below are from Portuguese and German magazines dating from 1907 to 1910:

Crossposted at

Tags: sherlock holmes, sherlock_bbc
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened