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A Different Jeremy. Twenty years ago today, Jeremy Brett died.

September 12, 2015

brett

Holmesologists, I mean the serious ones, rated Brett’s Sherlock very very highly.  The people who gather on or near Baker Street to discuss Rathbone versus Cushing will concur that Brett nailed it.  Do not mention Cumberbatch among such people.  It’s worse than mentioning Peter Cook.

(In the late seventies, Peter Cook, the funniest man of all time, teamed up with Dudley Moore and some of the finest, noblest, most exquisitely lovely and brilliant performers in the history of 20th century British stage and screen entertainment to produce what may be the worst, the very very worst film of all time – a Hound of the Baskervilles “parody”.)

When I was growing up, Basil Rathbone was Holmes.  This was because we had ritualised a Friday evening routine of eating maltesers while watching 1940s Rathbone and Bruce movies.  I grew up thinking that Sherlock Holmes won World War 2.  Nigel Bruce was a singular Watson.  If Brett is rated as the most accurately cerebral Holmes of all time, Bruce was, without doubt, the dimmest Watson ever to creep across the path of a camera.  There are subspecies of mollusc with an analytic range more alert and diverse than Bruce’s Watson.

I was sad twenty years ago today when Jeremy Brett died.  Not least because he played Freddie in the George Cukor movie of My Fair Lady.  Overshadowed by Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison only because his character was written to be overshadowed – Freddie none the less gets perhaps the most magical song in the musical, a song about transcendence, a song which Jasper Carrott once remarked, seemed to partake of the hallucinogenic drug intake associated with the decade in which the movie was made.

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So Jeremy Brett for me, is walking down a pavement at night… singing the following…

When she mentioned how her aunt
Bit off the spoon, she completely done me in
And my heart went on a journey to the moon
When she told about her father and the gin
And I never saw a more enchanting farce
Than the moment when she shouted, “Move your bloomin'” (interrupted)

I have often walked down this street before
But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before
All at once am I several stories high
Knowing I’m on the street where you live

Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?
Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?
Does enchantment pour out of every door?
No it’s just on the street where you live

And oh the towering feeling
Just to know somehow you are near
The overpowering feeling
That any second you may suddenly appear

People stop and stare, they don’t bother me
For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be
Let the time go by, I won’t care
If I can be here on the street where you live

People stop and stare, they don’t bother me
For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be
Let the time go by, I won’t care
If I can be here on the street where you live…

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One Comment
  1. I have often said the same. Brett was the best Holmes, and his song in MFL is a moment of transcendence. We will set aside the fact that his character is apparently stalking Eliza…

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