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Faces of Holmes: Clive Brook

Faces of Holmes: Clive Brook

“When an actor…”

– The Man with the Twisted Lip (TWIS)

 

Clifford “Clive” Hardman Brook was born in London on June 1, 1887 – 17 November 1974 and would portray Sherlock Holmes in three movies.

From the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors:

Maybe because he was British, Clive Brook was one of the stars of the silent screen who made the transition to talkies with ease, becoming, among other things, Hollywood’s first idea of what Sherlock Holmes would sound like. For a spell it seemed that acting wasn’t even in the stars, as Brook made a living as an insurance clerk and a news reporter before finally achieving the rank of major during World War I. It wasn’t until after military service that he decided to try his luck as an actor and soon was appearing on the London stage and in films. He came to the U.S. in 1924 to work for Paramount Pictures, achieving his most notable silent triumphs with Josef von Sternberg’s 1927 gangster melodrama Underworld, as a broken down lawyer, and Roland V. Lee’s Barbed Wire, as a German prisoner of war who falls for French girl Pola Negri. As the movies began to speak he came to represent a certain deadly earnest, stiff British reserve, hence his casting as Holmes, first in Paramount’s The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which sounded like a sequel, and then, somewhat confusingly, Fox’s Sherlock Holmes. His two most notable pictures of this era don’t stand the test of time particularly well, There was Shanghai Express, the height of Josef von Sternberg’s photographic infatuation with Marlene Dietrich, in which Brook was possibly the dreariest leading man she ever had; and 1933’s Cavalcade, in which he and Diana Wynward led a British cast through three decades of history – probably the worst film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. After 1934 he returned to Britain and continued appearing in movies for another 10 years or so, though his prime had clearly passed. He directed and starred in the 1944 comedy On Approval, as a stuck up Duke stranded on an island with Beatrice Lillie. In 1963, out of the blue, he was coaxed back once more, by John Huston, for The List of Adrian Messenger.

Popsicle, the frozen ice ice treat, issued a series of 24mm aluminum tokens featuring movie stars in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. One of the stars featured was Clive Brook. Other movie stars to be featured on tokens, include: Frederic March, Johnny Weissmuller, Jean Harlow, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Irene Dunne, Marie Dressler, and Marion Davies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clive Brook holds the distinction of being the first actor to portray Sherlock Holmes in a “talking” motion picture, by appearing in Paramount’s 1929 film, The Return of Sherlock Holmes. In the closing scenes, Brook would make the comment of “Elementary, my dear Watson,” for the first time ever and jinx all casual fans of Holmes who quote that line that NEVER appeared in the Canon.

Brook would make a cameo as Holmes in the 1930 film, Paramount on Parade. In a segment of the film called Murder Will Out, In that segment, Holmes and several other detectives would be killed by Fu Manchu. This would be the first time Holmes would die on screen.

A scene from the “Murder Will Out” skit, with Warner Oland (Fu Manchu), Clive Brook (Sherlock Holmes), William Powell (Philo Vance), and Eugene Pallette (Sergeant Heath).

Brook would return in 1932 as Holmes in the Fox movie, Sherlock Holmes. This also helps date the token we discussed earlier, Since this movie was produced by Fox in 1932, and the token mentions Brook as being a star for Paramount, it is likely to presume the tokens were manufactured before this movie was released.

Be sure to check out our post on Clive Brook and his involvement with the radio broadcasts of Secrets from Scotland Yard!

Faces of Lestrade: Frank Finlay

Faces of Lestrade: Frank Finlay

“… besides being an incomparable actor. “ – A Study in Scarlet (STUD) Frank Finlay, clockwise from upper left, as Lestrade in A Study in Terror (1966); as Lestrade in Murder by Decree (1979); as Professor Coram in The Golden Pince-Nez (1994); and as Arthur Conan Doyle in The Other Side (1992) Charles Prepolec, the 75th Garrideb, posted the following item… Continue Reading

More Sherlockian Winners of the National Medal of the Arts

More Sherlockian Winners of the National Medal of the Arts

“Since then I have been honoured …” – His Last Bow (LAST) Shortly after mailing out our last notice of new posts on our website, I received a note from the 13th Garrideb, Peter E. Blau, that there were other Sherlockian-related recipients of the National Medal of the Arts. Noted theatrical musical composer Stephen Sondheim… Continue Reading

Faces of Moriarty: The Decorated Laurence Olivier

Faces of Moriarty: The Decorated Laurence Olivier

“His name is still honoured.” – The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (3GAR) Laurence Olivier is considered by many to be one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. Our post cannot do justice to the man’s career and legacy, so we encourage you to read his Wikipedia entry which has much more detail… Continue Reading

The Numismatic Sigmund Freud

The Numismatic Sigmund Freud

“… this purely mental analysis …” – The Adventure of the Three Gables (3GAB) Alan Arkin, as Sigmund Freud, attempting to hypnotize Nicol Williamson’s Sherlock Holmes character in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Nicholas Meyer’s 1974 novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and the subsequent film in 1976 helped spark a Sherlock Holmes “renaissance” in the mid 1970s. For your editor, if flipping through television… Continue Reading

Eille Norwood in The Dying Detective

Eille Norwood in The Dying Detective

“… the actor in some strange drama …” – The Adventure of the Yellow Face (YELL) Readers of Frank Mentzel’s Data! Data! Data! features have seen Eille Norwood’s name many times in the film listings for each story. After all, Norwood did appear as Holmes in 47 shorts. Only three of Norwood’s films are currently available for viewing… Continue Reading

The Three Stooges and Sherlock Holmes

The Three Stooges and Sherlock Holmes

“I have been making a fool of myself” – The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumbi (ENGR) Your editor grew up during a time when there were only three television networks and a handful of independent UHF television stations. Those independent stations would often show the old movie shorts featuring the slapstick of The Three Stooges.… Continue Reading

Nigel Stock and Peter Cushing on a Japanese Phone Card

Nigel Stock and Peter Cushing on a Japanese Phone Card

“… actors in this drama…” – The Adventure of the Second Stain (SECO) Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock were to portray Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson for 16 episodes of Sherlock Holmes on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1968. Stock had portrayed Watson in the first 13 episodes of the series in 1964 and 1965, with… Continue Reading