Take 3: Sherlock Holmes in New York Review

As of late 2021, there have been six actors who have portrayed one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history. Despite the fact I’m reviewing a Sherlock Holmes movie, the role I’m referring to is James Bond. Now, you’re probably wondering, “what does James Bond have to do with Sherlock Holmes”? Besides being British, both characters were portrayed by Roger Moore. When I was invited by Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, to join the You Knew My Name: The Bond Not Bond Blogathon, I had to think about what film I wanted to write about. When I discovered Roger Moore starred in a Sherlock Holmes movie back in 1976, I thought it’d be an interesting title to cover. While I have reviewed my fair share of mystery films, including those that were made for television, I haven’t seen a lot of Sherlock Holmes related movies. Therefore, talking about Sherlock Holmes in New York will certainly make up for that!

Sherlock Holmes in New York created by 20th Century Fox Televison, NBC, and Ascot Elite Home Entertainment

Things I liked about the film:

Roger’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes: While I haven’t seen any of Roger Moore’s films from the James Bond franchise, I have seen his performance in the 2011 Hallmark Channel movie, A Princess for Christmas. From what I remember, Roger carried his character, Edward Duke of Castlebury, with class and dignity. These same qualities were present in his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. During Sherlock Holmes in New York, I could see some James Bond-esque qualities in the titular character. Roger’s ability to be suave as well as calm under pressure are just two examples. At certain moments in the story, Sherlock interacts with a woman named Irene Adler. Because there is history between these characters, Sherlock and Irene’s interactions contain a romantic flair. This is where the suaveness comes in, as Roger uses this to emphasize his on-screen chemistry with Charlotte Rampling. At the very beginning of the film, Sherlock faces off against Professor Moriarty. In this scene, Moriarty tries to hurt Sherlock at every chance he gets. But Sherlock never cracks under pressure. Instead, he consistently keeps his composure.

The historical accuracy: Recently, I reviewed the movie, Let Him Go. In that review, I talked about how the set design appeared to come from the ‘50s, despite the story taking place in the ‘60s. This caused the film’s time period to be unclear. Sherlock Holmes in New York takes place in March of 1901. Unlike Let Him Go, everything in the 1976 movie looked and felt like the 1900s! The costume design appeared historically accurate, with Sherlock Holmes’ outdoor wear serving as one example. Toward the beginning and end of the film, Sherlock sported the iconic plaid short cape and cap. But in New York, he wore a longer black cape and top hat. The historical accuracy was so on point, even the posters in The Empire State looked like it came from 1901. The font and basic design of these posters were just one detail that helped this movie’s creative team achieve the aesthetic they wanted for their project!

The presentation of New York City: When a movie or television show takes place in a beloved location, that place can be presented in two ways: an over-glamourized empire or a disgusting landscape covered by a glittering mask. With Sherlock Holmes in New York, the titular city was given to the audience “as is”. Even though the more polished areas of this destination could be seen, that was not the “end all, be all” in the story. In a handful of scenes, Sherlock Holmes explores the performance community of New York. He even goes undercover as a stage performer. The Big Apple is known for being one of the world’s entertainment hot-spots. While that part of this location was not emphasized, it did show some of the different components of one of America’s largest cities.

The You Knew My Name: The Bond Not Bond Blogathon banner created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews

What I didn’t like about the film:

A pointless change of scenery: When a movie or television series chooses to change the location of their story, there needs to be a strong reason for that change. These reasons can range from expanding upon the overarching story to giving the protagonist(s) something interesting to do. With Sherlock Holmes in New York, though, none of these things happened. As a matter of fact, having Sherlock Holmes go to New York at all seemed unnecessary. If the mysteries in this film took place in England, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. That’s because none of the mysteries have any exclusive connection to New York itself. Having Sherlock solve the disappearances of immigrants from Ellis Island would have given him a stronger reason to be in New York, as Ellis Island is a part of New York and United States history. A child being kidnapped or a bank robbery can take place anytime and anywhere.

Not interactive enough: An appealing aspect of the mystery genre is the opportunity to solve the mystery alongside the protagonist. This allows the story to be interactive and engaging. I know one of Sherlock Holmes’ traits is his ability to figure out clues and possible scenarios in a short amount of time. But in Sherlock Holmes in New York, Sherlock figures things out so quickly, the audience doesn’t get a chance to engage with the mystery themselves. Instead, they’re forced to sit on the sidelines and watch the protagonist do everything, giving the audience a weak reason to stay invested in the story. Because of this, I found myself zoning out of the movie on a few occasions.

Lack of urgency: When a mystery takes place in current time, it gives that story a sense of urgency. The audience watches as the protagonist(s) races against the clock to solve a given mystery. While I won’t spoil Sherlock Holmes in New York, I will say a kidnapping takes place in the story. However, shortly after this crime takes place, Sherlock plays his violin in his hotel room. He then smokes his pipe all night. As I mentioned earlier, Sherlock Holmes is known for figuring out clues and scenarios in a short amount of time. That doesn’t give the story an excuse not to have urgency.

New York City skyline with letters image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/new-york-skyline-typographic-silhouette_719554.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

There was a time when having a movie take place in New York was the film’s selling point. From Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan to A Troll in Central Park, movie studios wanted to take a bite out of The Big Apple for one reason or another. While I don’t know where or why this trend started, Sherlock Holmes in New York may have been one of the movies that caused this interesting ripple effect. Too bad the titular character didn’t have a stronger reason to visit The Empire State. The idea of Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery outside of England is not a bad one. But with the 1976 movie, the idea was better in theory than in practice. Add weak interactivity and a lack of urgency, this movie is not as strong as The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, a Sherlock Holmes film I reviewed back in 2018. However, I did like Roger Moore’s portrayal of the famous detective. In fact, it’s a shame he didn’t receive more opportunities to appear in Sherlock Holmes stories. With this review completed, I need to make the time to see Roger’s films from the James Bond franchise. I just have to find the perfect opportunity to talk about them.

Overall score: 6-6.1 out of 10

Have you seen any Sherlock Holmes or James Bond films? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Interrupted Melody Review

Prior to signing up for Maddy Loves Her Classic Films’ Eleanor Parker Blogathon, I had seen two of Eleanor’s films; The Sound of Music and Return to Peyton Place. However, both titles are ensemble films, leaving Eleanor to act in someone else’s shadow. My entry for the blogathon is a review of Interrupted Melody, a film that allows Eleanor’s acting talents to be the center of attention! The 1955 film is one I had never heard of until this year. Before 2020, I didn’t know who Marjorie Lawrence, the Australian opera singer, was. When I learned Marjorie was diagnosed with polio and overcame her illness, I was interested in seeing this part of Marjorie’s life depicted on film. This is because I, personally, haven’t seen many cinematic stories from the perspective of polio patients. I also don’t talk about Australians in cinema, as I don’t often receive an opportunity to do so. This is another reason why I chose to review Interrupted Melody.

Interrupted Melody poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This is the first movie I’ve seen where Eleanor Parker was the star of the show. I was not disappointed, as Eleanor gave a very strong performance! While Eileen Farrell served as the vocals for the role of Marjorie Lawrence, Eleanor provided the power, passion, and showmanship one can expect from an opera performance. Outside of the opera world, Marjorie experienced several heartbreaks and joys in her life. Through all of this, Eleanor brought forth a portrayal that was emotional, allowing her character to appear and feel realistic. A good example of this is when Marjorie is crawling toward the record player in an attempt to turn it off. One of the key players in Marjorie’s life is her husband, Dr. Thomas King. Portrayed by Glenn Ford, Thomas was her biggest supporter. With a variety of emotions, Glenn also gave a realistic performance! He was able to show the audience how much Thomas cared about Marjorie. Even the supporting actors in Interrupted Melody were strong, which provided strength to the overall cast! Cyril, portrayed by Roger Moore, is Marjorie’s brother and manager. The conversations between him and Marjorie were well performed by both actors, coming across as two siblings having different perspectives on a central topic. This allowed both on-screen personalities to shine as well as showcasing their distinct personas!

The set design: Because Marjorie is an opera star, several opera performances are shown in the film. The movie’s creative team didn’t skimp on the set design within these scenes, as they all felt so immersive. When Marjorie is performing in Madame Butterfly, the stage’s setting is a room from Japan. The window in the background features a large tree, appearing more like a realistic landscape than a painted image. Fine details helped make these spaces appealing to look at. In Marjorie’s first opera, the characters were placed on a Parisian street, with a set of string lights shown over their heads. A detail like this added a three-dimension aspect to the set. Even scenes that didn’t involve the opera looked really good! In one scene, Marjorie and Thomas are on a beach in Florida. While this movie was filmed in Culver City, California, according to IMDB, this was still a photogenic location!

The costumes: In Interrupted Melody, Eleanor Parker wore costumes that were absolutely gorgeous! It also helps that these costumes complimented her so well! In the aforementioned opera, Madame Butterfly, Eleanor’s kimono was light-pink with beautiful embroidery on the collar and sleeves. The embroidery featured flowers, which represented the tree that was featured in the scene’s background. While Marjorie is performing as Carmen in the opera of the same name, her outfit featured a color combination of blue and orange. This was paired nicely with Marjorie’s brown hair. Eleanor even wore some impressive costumes that were not worn during opera performances. Within the film’s second half, she wore a sparkly white gown that was one of my favorites! Eleanor looked beautiful in that dress and I wished she had worn it for a longer period of time.

The Eleanor Parker Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Missing context: There were areas of the story where I wish context was provided. For starters, how did Marjorie become a singer in the first place? Was this a dream she had since she was a child or a passion she discovered shortly before the events of the film? These questions certainly could have been answered within the script. For a portion of the movie, Cyril disappears from the story. While he eventually appears toward the end of the movie, it isn’t really explained where he went or why he was suddenly absent from the plot. This is something that could’ve been brought up in passing.

More emphasis on the opera world: Since opera played such a huge role in Marjorie’s life, it is going to have a place in the overall story. However, the film put so much emphasis on the glitz and glamour of the opera world, that it caused Marjorie’s polio diagnosis to, kind of, sit on the backburner. This part of Marjorie’s life didn’t come until an hour into the movie. From that point on, it felt like I was watching a highlight reel of Marjorie’s attempts to overcome her illness. I found this disappointing, as I was expecting that part of Marjorie’s story to have a larger presence in the film.

No Australian accents: Before watching Interrupted Melody, I was curious to see if Eleanor could carry an Australian accent. This was, sadly, not the case. In fact, an Australian accent was not consistently used by any of the actors who portrayed members of Marjorie’s family. Toward the beginning of the film, Roger Moore could be heard with an Australian accent. But as the movie goes on, his voice morphs into a British accent. This specific accent was also adopted by the other actors portraying Australians, including Eleanor. While I got used to the lack of Australian accents over time, it is still a flaw I noticed.

String of musical notes image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/pentagram-vector_710290.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a> <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Backgroundvector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Like I said in my Follow Your Heart review, Interrupted Melody is not the “end all, be all” of Marjorie Lawrence’s story, as one should learn more about her in their own time. However, I do think this movie serves as a good introduction to this particular individual as well as to opera! Through music, set design, and costumes, Interrupted Melody effectively shows the heart and soul that go into this specific form of entertainment. Within Eleanor Parker’s performance, the audience can see just how resilient Marjorie Lawrence was. Speaking of Eleanor Parker, this movie made me appreciate her more! Strong acting talents and a beautiful presence help create a captivating portrayal that was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. An overarching flaw of Interrupted Melody is how the film becomes so caught up in the glitz and glamour of the opera world, it, at times, forgets its original purpose. In the end, though, the movie was a fine picture that I would recommend.

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

Have you seen Interrupted Melody? Is there a film about a musician you like to watch? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen