Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004) - Canonical References Part I



The Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking  remains one of the least seen and unsurprisingly one of the most underappreciated gems in the history of Sherlock Holmes adaptations. I was fortunate to have come across the movie and found it to be an excellent take on the legendary detective.

One of the main strengths of the movie is the surprising number of references to Arthur Conan Doyle's originals. Here is the list:

1. While witnessing the autopsy of the latest victim at the mortuary, Dr John Watson (Ian Hart) suggests that the ligature around the girl's neck be cut to leave the knot intact. Dr Watson notes: “It is an old trick of Holmes. There is a world of information in a knot” -

In the beginning of the short story The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, Holmes states about the knot: “The importance lies in the fact that the knot is left intact, and that this knot is of a peculiar character”. Later, Holmes explains: The string was of the quality which is used by sail-makers aboard ship, and at once a whiff of the sea was perceptible in our investigation. When I observed that the knot was one which is popular with sailors, that the parcel had been posted at a port,  and that the male ear was pierced for an earring which is so much more common among sailors than landsmen, I was quite certain that all the actors in the tragedy were to be found among our seafaring classes.

2. When Sherlock Holmes (Rupert Everett) deduces that Dr Watson is following him, Dr Watson wonders as to how Holmes figured that out since he is not smoking distinctive tobacco -

Reference to Holmes' expert knowledge of tobacco and cigar ashes. Holmes remarks in The Boscombe Valley MysteryI found the ash of a cigar, which my special knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pronounce as an Indian cigar. I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. 

3. Dr Watson further complains that he is not wearing odored cologne -

Reference to Holmes' expertise on scents and perfumes. Holmes explains in The Hound of the BaskervillesThere are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition.



4. Holmes explains to Dr Watson: You reek of the slaughterhouse.” -

Holmes himself says in The Adventure of the Blanched SoldierI have, as my friend Watson may have remarked, an abnormally acute set of senses, and a faint but incisive scent was apparent. It seemed to center on the hall-table.

5. Holmes also states the same thing in French: Odeur de morgue -

Reference to the French ancestry of Holmes. Holmes states in The Adventure of the Greek InterpreterBut, none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. 

6. Holmes tells Watson: “Life away from the Baker Street seems to suit you Watson. I see you have put on seven and a half pounds since last we met” -

When Dr Watson visits Sherlock Holmes at 221 B in A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes remarks: “Wedlock suits you... I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you”.

7. At 221 B, Mrs Hudson (Anne Carroll) hands over the mail to Holmes who carelessly discards most of them before proceeding to use a knife to affix one of them on the mantelpiece –

Dr Watson writes about Holmes in The Adventure of The Musgrave RitualBut with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs.

8. Sherlock angrily asks Mrs Hudson if she has been tidying up and she replies: Hardly” -

In The Adventure of the Dying DetectiveDr John Watson writes about Mrs Hudson: Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman...her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularity in his life which must have sorely tried her patience. His incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his occasional revolver practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him made him the very worst tenant in London.... The landlady stood in the deepest awe of him and never dared to interfere with him, however outrageous his proceedings might seem.”


mrs hudson sherlock holmes landlady picture image poster wallpaper screensaver

9. Mrs Hudson asks Holmes as to what time he will dine. To which he replies: 7.30... Day after tomorrow. Mrs Hudson is visibly upset with this response. Later she complains about this to Dr Watson when he comes to 221 B -

In the Canon, Mrs Hudson has often expressed her concern to Dr Watson about Sherlock's health.

In The Sign of the Four, she tells Dr Watson: “I am afraid for his health?” and explains that she can hear Holmes talking to himself and refusing to take cooling medicine as per her suggestion.

In The Adventure of the Dying Detective, Mrs Hudson rushes to Dr Watson and implores him to come to Sherlock's aid immediately: “He's dying, Dr. Watson... For three days he has been sinking, and I doubt if he will last the day... This morning when I saw his bones sticking out of his face and his great bright eyes looking at me I could stand no more of it....I wouldn't waste an hour in coming to him, sir, or you may not see him alive.”

10. Holmes hears Dr Watson approaching him at the mortuary and asks if he is so predictable that Watson could find him twice on the same day. Dr Watson replies: Perhaps at long last, I have learned to apply your methods - 

In The Sign of the Four, Holmes impatiently tells Watson: “My dear Watson, try a little analysis yourself... You know my methods. Apply them, and it will be instructive to compare results.”

In The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Holmes asks Watson to make deductions about the as-yet-unidentified owner of the hat: “Here is my lens. You know my methods. What can you gather yourself as to the individuality of the man who has worn this article?” 

11. Dr Watson tells Holmes after seeing the letters lying all around his room: You always were one of the most untidy men, but really Holmes..” -

Dr Watson writes about Holmes in The Adventure of The Musgrave RitualAn anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction.”

12. Mrs Hudson informs Holmes and Watson that the Duke of Norborough is here. Dr Watson says: “Perhaps I should go Holmes”. Holmes restrains him saying: No, Not a bit. Stay where you. Come on old chap, it will be just like old times. -

In A Scandal in Bohemia, at the sound of the client's bougham stopping outside 221 B, Dr Watson offers to leave:  “I think that I had better go, Holmes.” To which Holmes replies: “Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell. And this promises to be interesting. It would be a pity to miss it.”

13. After the Duke appears, Holmes states: Good Day, Your Grace. Pray take a seat.” After the prospective client does not respond, Holmes introduces Dr WatsonThis is my friend and colleague, Dr Watson -

This scene is taken word for word from The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, when Lord St. Simon arrives at 221 B: “Good-day, Lord St. Simon,” said Holmes, rising and bowing. “Pray take the basket-chair. This is my friend and colleague, Dr. Watson. Draw up a little to the fire, and we will talk this matter over.”

14. The Duke explains: “Lord Blakemore tells me I may place implicit reliance upon your judgment and discretion. I have determined therefore to consult you in reference to a very painful event which has occurred. -

This line is almost taken verbatim from The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, in which Lord St. Simon writes to Holmes: “Lord Backwater tells me that I may place implicit reliance upon your judgment and discretion. I have determined, therefore, to call upon you and to consult you in reference to the very painful event which has occurred in connection with my wedding.”


rupert everett sherlock holmes picture image poster wallpaper screensaver

15. The Duke asks Holmes to find his daughter's killer and offers to pay handsomely for his services. Holmes replies: “My professional charges are upon a fixed scale, Your Grace. I do not vary them unless I remit them altogether” -

In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Neil Gibson (the Gold King) boasts to Holmes: “Let me say right here, Mr. Holmes... that money is nothing to me in this case. You can burn it if it’s any use in lighting you to the truth. This woman is innocent and this woman has to be cleared, and it’s up to you to do it. Name your figure!”. Sherlock Holmes responds: My  professional  charges  are  upon  a fixed scale.. I do not vary them, save when I remit them altogether.

16. Holmes is angry at the sight of several policeman at the scene of the crime and scolds Inspector Lestrade (Neil Dudgeon): “For God's sake, Lestrade, Why on earth are there heavy booted policeman trampling everyone like a herd of buffaloes?” - 

In A Study in Scarlet, Gregson tells Holmes that he has left the crime scene untouched. Holmes points to the pathway and remarks: “If a herd of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess. No doubt, however, you had drawn your own conclusions, Gregson, before you permitted this.”


I will be posting the remaining ones in another post.

Click here to read my review of the movie.


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Image Sources: BBC, Tiger Aspect Productions, WGBH Boston

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2 comments:

  1. I remember disliking this one - though I haven't seen it since its broadcast. Doesn't it have some daft resolution regarding twins? I might have to check it out again!

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    1. You are right, GK. The climax features twins and is definitely the weak section of the movie.

      But the first 30-45 mins are an absolute delight in terms of the sheer number of nods to ACD's works. I personally enjoyed them.

      B2B.

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