Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking

    I’m a Sherlockian who was appalled by the recent PBS movie, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking, and since it’s better to blow off one’s anger than raise the blood pressure....

    I was not upset, as some were, by Holmes using a telephone.   As has been pointed out elsewhere, there was a telephone in Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs,” dated by Baring-Gould as June 26-27, 1902.  Holmes therefore did have access to telephones at the end of his career, and no doubt by the November 1902 time of Silk Stocking could have placed a call if need be.   FOOTNOTE.

    Some have found it odd that Holmes smoked cigarettes, but not I.   A careful study of the Canon will show that Holmes smokes cigarettes in many of the stories – there are sixteen references to the same in Steve Clarkson’s The Canonical Compendium, fewer than references to cigars or pipes, but still substantial.  The number consumed in “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez” alone makes it clear that Holmes was no stranger to coffin nails.

    Most infuriating was the drug nonsense.  Holmes’ drug of choice, which he didn’t seem to use later in his career in any event, was cocaine, *not* opium, and Holmes only used drugs when he was bored, never when he was on a case.  It was lack of work for his mental engine that made him resort to drugs; he says so himself and acts in accordance with his words.  (Using drugs on a case made for a particularly silly scene in the recent The Hound of the Baskervilles remake, written by the same screenwriter, Alan Cubitt, where Holmes shoots up while waiting for further events and then, a few hours later, is bright and cheery.  I’d have thought he would have nodded off and fallen off the wagon he was then riding in.) 

    True, Watson notes in “The Missing Three Quarter” that “the fiend is sleeping but not dead,” but in fact we never see Holmes use drugs after the hiatus, nor does Watson comment upon Holmes’ use after that time.  Perhaps what Watson started, the Dalai Lama finished!

    Watson’s choice of woman is a bit suspect.  In the Canon, we meet Mary, the wife he’s chosen (well, the one wife we *see* him choose) and we also see other women to whom he is attracted – invariably women in distress, not bold New Women.  And since when does Watson come up with the solution before Holmes?

    Oh, the costumes were lovely, and if you like fog, there was fog aplenty, but aside from the solution violating one of the basic “rules” of Golden Age detective fiction (about who the murderer may *not* be), the film made me wonder if Cubitt has actually *read* the Canon.

    – “Esmeralda,” obviously giving this one a two thumbs down.

In total, there are six Canonical stories with telephone references.  Here they are, together with the Baring-Gould dates for them.  As you can see, five of the six are dated prior to the events in Silk Stocking.  Please note that other commentators use other dates, but these will do just fine.

    In the Adventures: Twisted Lip.   6/18-6/19, 1887.
    In the Memoirs: None
    In the Return: None
    In the Last Bow: None
    In the Casebook: Blanched Soldier.  1/7-1/12, 1903
                           Illustrious Client.  9/3-9/16, 1902
                           Retired Colourman.  7/28-7/30, 1898
                           Three Garridebs.   6/26-6-27, 1902
    In the Novels: Sign of the Four.   9/18-9/21, 1888


       EDITORIAL POSTSCRIPT:  For Marvin Lachman
s take on the Holmes movie, see his column here.

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