Almost in a Sherlock Holmes Movie!

Terry Kiburn & Frankie Thomas, Rivals

 DATELINE: From Sherlock to Nancy Drew 

Sometimes I forget how old I am.  One of my late friends actually auditioned for a role in the first Basil Rathbone movie of Sherlock Holmes.

Passed over to play the page boy Billy in Mrs. Hudson’s employ for the Rathbone version of Adventures of Sherlock,child star Frankie Thomas was busy with other projects in 1939, but as a standard freelance actor now in his mid-teens, he could have easily played the role of Billy.

Having cut his teeth playing Bonita Granville’s sleuthing boyfriend in the Nancy Drew series, he was ripe for a role in his favorite reading material, the Holmes stories. 

Frankie’s family were Broadway theater professionals, part of a clique that dominated social strata in Hollywood of the era. Through his father and mother, youthful Frankie met Basil Rathbone, the emerging Holmes of the film world. The coveted role of Billy went to Terry Kilburn, a native British boy who had picked up the mantle of Freddie Bartholomew.

Nevertheless, Frankie loved the Holmes stories and read all avidly. He later, as an adult, when out of Hollywood’s limelight, wrote a series of novels that featured Holmes and Watson in new adventures.

Frankie’s Holmes titles, over a dozen, are still in print. He disliked the Bruce portrayal of Watson intensely and would alter that in his own books, but always favored the actor he saw frequently on the studio lot, Basil Rathbone.

 Frankie also had a key role in a series of Nancy Drew mysteries made in the late 1930s. As a teenage boy, he was cast as the boyfriend of Nancy. In fact, he played Watson to Bonita Granville’s female Sherlock.

Recently I put together a book called Sherlock in Movies: Personal Views & Reviews, in which I tried to do honor to Frankie.

Candlelight Dinner with Patriots

 DATELINE: Hot Time in New England

When we heard a wife of a New England Patriots player has denied her husband had dinner out with another player, we became intrigued.

The wife is always the last to know, and in New England, your sports radio maggots can be found under foot everywhere.

Yes, Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore may be the most beautiful men on the team: each is a star on the opposite side of the ball. Heavens, is it a match? Did Gilmore take pity on lonely Cam whose family is half-way across the country?

We know that if Cam had dinner with Julian Edelman, it would be playing favorites, supplanting himself in the heart of Tom Brady’s former matchmate. However, Cam is too smart for that: he keeps his dinner companions outside the arena where you might be called out for being out with a favorite.

Stephone and Cam may be up a tree, but they are not out.

No one is posting an incriminating photo over sushi. No one is finding them sharing a bucket of chicken wings.

 And, now Gilmore’s wife has weighed in, denying that she is a co-respondent or a woman scorned. She never admitted she was hiding under the dinner table, or the bed. But she knows the true story, at least according to what her husband tells her.

Oh, both men will be back in uniform for Sunday, and no one is asking if they will be sharing a Big Mac or an Egg McMuffin in the pre-game morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

What’s Bugging Voters Most?

Just for Men!

Great moments in American politics are hard to find nowadays with Proud Boys mixing it up with kidnappers at Trump rallies.  However, the fly on Pence may last for generations of politics as fallout.

Your hair spray will do you in eventually.

If Pence had only used Just for Men in a dark shade, you would have found the bug blend into the follicles.

Pence has lost the chance to use the slogan, “No Flies on Me!”

Kamala Harris is now viral, singing a remix of sorts about the Fly. And, this one does not star Vincent Price.

Biden’s campaign is now locked into swatting away at $10 a pop their own little weapon against flies.

No one will ever again tell Mike Pence to zip up his fly.

Proud boys may soon become a version of fly boys.

You have to say the debate gave off a stink that attracted the star of Amityville and the progenitor of Maggotworld.

Why did the fly stay on the side of Pence? Did those plastic barriers prove to be insurmountable?

Two minutes for a fly is half a lifetime. Yet, that bug stayed still for a long bout of cootie watching. Something in Pence’s hair smelled good, tasted good, or looked good.

But flies are never a good look on national TV. This year, 2020, has not only proved hindsight is blind, but that Raid is now your best choice for hair control.

Twice Told Tales from 1963

 Cabot & Price

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s mid-nineteenth century short stories were collected by him into a book, with more than a dozen philosophical mysteries. It was titled Twice Told Tales. He was not into the psychological terror as his fellow writer, Edgar Allen Poe.

There is an almost pre-science fiction quality to his literary themes, and yet when they were adapted for the big screen in 1963, the star and narrator of the film would be Vincent Price, already a big name in bad literary adaptations.

Price found steady work doing high-end schlock for more than a few decades. He brought dignity and style to what might normally pass for low-budget pot-boilers. Twice Told Tales zeroes in on three stories (two are famous in their own rights:  “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” and “Rappuccini’s Daughter”). The third story in the trilogy-anthology is House of SevenGables, which was a novel, his usualmetier.

Two center on scientists who play God, trying to control human nature and life over death. In the first, Dr. Heidegger’s tale is altered seriously. It becomes a small cast melodrama, now set in a dark and stormy night. Sebastian Cabot and Price are aging in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth.

 In “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” he is a reclusive scientist who has filled his daughter with poison from a plant to make her separate from the normal business of social life. These are changed enough to be slick color TV specials of the era: about forty minutes each.

House of Seven Gablesis another known title, but hardly within the themes of the first two. Here, a house holds a mysterious presence of evil, rather than the people which include an heir played by Price again.  Richard Denning and Beverly Garland join him in this ghostly tale of hidden treasure.

They are not horrific much, slow-moving, and quite literary, hardly up to contemporary standards of horror and special effects. That may be their charm. If you want something that is neither the original Hawthorne story, nor a modern flashy horror, this is your movie.

Jack the Tailor of Beverly Hills

 DATELINE: You Are What You Call Yourself!

 Clothes Make the Man!

Upon first coming across a one-hour documentary on a fashion store in Beverly Hills, we thought it was one of those vanity documentaries, produced by its subject. Jack Taylor was a 90-year old high fashion artist from old Hollywood days.

The film is a tad old, with Taylor gone in 2016 and his main supporter, Mike Douglas, a decade before that. Yet, we are always eager to catch up on our past misgivings.

Jack Taylor hardly needs publicity, and business is dying out as his A-list celebrity patrons pass away. He would soon follow and take an era with him. He was the man who tailored all those magnificent suits worn by Cary Grant from the 1930s till his death. Grant would order a dozen suits at time.

We wondered if there were any celebs who’d go on camera for a commercial appearance—and there were plenty of men: Mike Douglas, Hal Linden, swore by Jack Taylor. Monty Hall wore a different outfit every show on Let’s Make a Deal, all created by Taylor.

He made clothes for Elvis, Sinatra, Charles Bronson, and so many men. He was not easy either. He would tell them not to eat or put on weight. His suits were meant to show them off at their best shape. His most obstreperous client was Jackie Gleason who needed 3 sizes, because of his weight changes over weeks and months.

Taylor would tell them to eat only half the plate at the restaurant. He did not do alterations, or sew the suits. He has a 60-year tailor for that: he has worked for Taylor for sixty years. He’s in his 80s. But both lament there are no tailors any longer.

We are looking at the extinction of men’s fashion. There was no endangered species list: men’s suits and ties were dinosaurs when the political landscape changed its pants.

Clothes for men nowadays are off the rack at best, and China imports at worst. Jack Taylor knows his world of well-dressed men is fading away. He thinks the 1940s were the last gasp, but the war killed it at that point. And, the 1970s turned into a fashion death knell for men’s clothing with jeans and t-shirts as the extent of wardrobe.

We never expected to be fascinated at expensive clothes, being a recluse who never makes public appearances. However, celebrities still know a good suit is essential, but they are going to have a hard time finding anyone to replace jack Taylor.

Caricature King

DATELINE:  The Line King

Hitch by Hirsch: we couldn’t find Nina.

 Al Hirschfeld likely hated being considered an artist who was a cartoon caricaturist. He was much more, and only in recent years after a 70-year career is he receiving his due.

Hirschfeld is the titled The Line King  in this fascinating and surprising documentary. It divides his life and career into decades from the start of the 20thcentury. He lived well past 90 and was active until the end.

Hia works are notable for the gimmick “Nina” name of his daughter that need to be located—and in multitudes, counted. It was another device that seemed to lessen his artistic reputation, though it is a clever indication of how bright his mind always was.

He started out sculpting and doing watercolors, but those did not sell. He worked in early movie studios, under Selznick and Mayer, sketching all the great comedians. He knew them all, too, including Chaplin who rescued him from poverty when he was in Bali without funds.

The Line King learned about people daily, and his wisdom emanates in every segment that relies on interviews he gave.

What a brilliant man—and many stars, like Katharine Hepburn, bought his works and offer glowing testimonials to his insight.

He never tried to be cruel. When he did his most nasty version of David Merrick, the Broadway producer bought the original and put it on his annual Christmas card.

Hirschfeld did all his work in his little office sitting in a barber’s chair, his idea of comfort, and worked seven days a week. He never had a contract with the New York Times until his last years—and he was more important to Broadway and film than the critics.

If you wanted a seminal insight into every great performer and his work, you need only consult a Hirschfeld sketch. Absolutely brilliant and the film is too.

 

Monster Cats

DATELINE: Monsterquest After Tweety Pie’s Nemesis!

  Not a Puddy Tat.

What’s new, Pussycat? We hate to be catty, but the latest episode of the monster search series is purrfect.

Monsterquest  had a bad Bigfoot problem, but is back on the winning track with its study of mysterious big cats in areas where they have been eradicated for over 100 years.  These are not your average puddy tats, Tweety Bird.

Yet, 25 miles north of New York City, a variety of black cat sightings leads the Monsterquest investigation to look for evidence. It does not take long to find claw marks and footprints. With abundant deer to hunt, the experts believe that a black leopard is likely there.

Many witnesses have reported seeing black cats, leopards or jaguars, not native to the area, cavorting the woods. Attacks are growing more frequent with people keeping even 400-pounds cats in their apartments!

Armed with a DNA gun to extract a sample, they plan to use nightfall and infra-red cameras to locate the feline beasts. Good luck with that.

Other initiatives include revealing that six states in the US allow dangerous cats as pets. These monsters often can escape or are let loose when too big. They are particularly dangerous because of in-breeding.

The series reveals that DNA of caged cats indicate that these animals are more dangerous than those raised in the wild.

There is a passing reference to koo-koo bird people as seen in Tiger King, who keep these tigers and lions as pets. Roy and Siegfried learned their lesson in 2004 when one of their Las Vegas cats turned on them and paralyzed, nearly killing Roy.

With an investigation outside a major urban area, this show certainly could be called unnerving.

 

 

 

 

Jack Benny & Marilyn

DATELINE:  An Innocent Age

Back in 1953 for the first show of his second season, Jack Benny garnered the biggest name and biggest star of the year:  Marilyn Monroe. It was called the Jack Benny Program.

As all the set-ups in the Benny program were at the expense of Jack’s delicate ego, he took the barrage of raps and insults with his usual aplomb.

You might be ready for some outdated racial profiling when Rochester showed up: Eddie Anderson always played Jack’s valet who goes with him everywhere and calls him “Boss.” Here they go to Hawaii, and we find Jack lugging all the luggage with no Rochester.

Jack sits on the dock, ready to leave, while flower leis are given to all the departing guests for their generosity, kindness, and friendship. Alas, even a dog gets a lei, but not Jack. Finally a delicatessen owner shows up and gives him a lei of chicken livers. He is warned to be careful of the seagulls.

We learn too that Jack is carrying Rochester’s luggage because he was late for the ship.

When Benny falls asleep on deck, he dreams about the star he saw that night in a ship’s nightly movie: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes megastar, Marilyn Monroe.   And, in one of her designer gowns, she drops into the barcalounger recliner next to Jack in his dreams.

She professes her love for him despite their age difference. She points out she is 25 and he is 39, but in 25 years she will be 50, and he will still be 39. She is enchanted by his big blue eyes.

It was Monroe’s first TV appearance as a guest star (we don’t count her TV commercials, satirized in All About Eve).  She is lovely and charming, and so is Jack.

You simply don’t have that kind of weekly series surprise, even with cable nowadays. It was a gentle treat of a bygone era, and a lovely little escape from today.

 

Social Skills Bite the Dust

DATELINE: Curmudgeon’s Perspective

Role Model: Heidi’s Grandfather

Leave it to the New York Times to write up a report that one hideous side-effect of the coronavirus is that social skills are biting the dust.

Yes, apparently people are not using their social skills and are losing the edge in dealing with other people in a variety of ways. They are cranky, depressed, short-tempered, and in fact are becoming Heidi’s grandfather, that old isolated reprobate who hated kids. The new paranoia mistrusts everyone.

As an old curmudgeon who has been bilious for years, this is amusing to no end.

Meeting new people has never been high on this writer’s list, but apparently many in society thrive on socializing. We can offer a few tidbits of advice to those who are snappy at stay-at-home children and grandparents: try to use good manners.

It’s a concept in short supply in the new century and has been endangered for decades. Intolerant, impatient, people have shrugged off etiquette in the 21stcentury like toilet paper they cannot find in proper quantities.

Your good manners may be more important than toilet paper or hand sanitizer.

According to expert psychologists, this is a biological problem because the species is a social animal. We think that rats trapped on Antarctica might also turn on each other. Psychologists have learned these lessons from studying hermits, like this author, and from isolated people in various self-imposed quarantine.

The world had better learn how to deal with fewer social skills if you plan to fly to Mars and live in an enclosed environment with a few colleagues for years on end.

We may, in fact, be preparing for the next stage of anti-civilization: when we are schizoid, alone with our thoughts, and must come to grips with philosophy concepts you avoided in college classes and Phil 101.

 

 

 

  Machine That Made Us? Really?

DATELINE: Gutenberg, Not McLuhan 

Docudrama re-enactment from 1880s, not real scene.

A quaint British documentary made over a dozen years ago thrusts the premise at us that the Gutenberg Press is the most important invention of civilization. Hmm, we are skeptical as usual.

As host and presenter Stephen Fry notes, it may be more important than the car, the computer, or other accoutrements of the latest centuries. The little one-hour film The Machine That Made Us never mentions Marshall McLuhan, which is a shame.

Fry is a bibliophile, which is to say he loves books, though that is hardly historical or cultural expertise. He is also an excellent actor and charming as  host for a travelogue and investigation into Johannes Gutenberg and his invention.

There are no pictures or illos of Gutenberg or his press. One early image from Albrecht Durer of a press is 50 years later. So, all pictures and lithographs are actually re-enactments imagined, just like in today’s so-called documentaries.

There are those, however, who’d point out that books are fading fast. That includes authors who find that their sales are now comprised mostly of e-books. We print out of nostalgia for the most part.

Nobody really wants dust-collecting libraries in their homes or even in their universities. When Fry walks down miles of stacks of books, we think the cost of protecting them (miles and miles of books) is staggering. You could probably fit them all in a file cabinet of Kindles.

Fry is no technocrat—and he leaves the making of an original press to a woodworker, and the making of the actual letters to another metallurgist. Since it would take a few years to make one page of letters to print up a Bible, they send to America for pre-made, and use their one “E” in the print block.

Vellum too would mean the death of hundreds of cows, so paper is made the old-fashioned way of 1439 and it is cloth bits into pulp. You make Bible pages between the Black Death that gripped your pressings with old clothes.

There are only a handful of the original Bibles left from Guttenberg’s endeavor—and he never made money from publishing. That fell to his creditors. And, the beautiful illustrations in the margins were always hand-done anyhow.

It is fascinating to watch, but a tad dull—and we never see them actually bind a book or stich it together. When Fry thumbs through one of the surviving books in cotton gloves, you fear he might sneeze on the book and let water vapor take its course.

Kennedy Dynasty Undone

DATELINE: Last of the Kennedys in Mass.

As a long-suffering liberal Republican in Massachusetts, it is with shock that we have observed the end of the Kennedy dynasty. When a Kennedy cannot win a senate seat in this state, then the entire political family is on the endangered list.

Oh, we trace our ties to the Kennedys back to when my father was asked in 1945 to join the Kennedy congressional campaign. Young JFK wanted all the young military officers of his district to come on board. My father met him at the local church hall and told him he never stood a chance of winning.

So much for one family predicting the fate of another.

 

When I was a kid, my father took me to a parade near Bunker Hill when Senator JFK was riding in an open car. My father called to him as he went past: Kennedy recognized him, pointed a finger and laughed. I was quite impressed as a kid that JFK knew my father and snickered at him.

Now I am pointing finger at the grandson of RFK, the red-headed twinster, Joe III, who appears to have chewed more than he bit off.

Joe Kennedy may be out of politics after today. Or perhaps, like Abe Lincoln, a defeat for Congress will make him more attractive as a presidential candidate.

The pundits claimed young Joe was too eager and made a mistake in challenging Ed Markey, an absentee powerbroker in the old -ashioned pol sense.

We had hoped to make up for a family omission by voting for Joe in the general election (as we are not part of the Democratic primary voting list.

Now that apology to the Kennedy family from my progenitors will be put on hold, perhaps for another time, but my vote may not be there in the next campaign.

Yep, it’s the end of another era.

 

 

UFOs: The Secret History

DATELINE: (well, not so secret)

Be Still, My Earth.

Though it is billed as having new information, it really has only a new and amusing perspective.  The film is irreverent in many ways, through use of movie clips and the laconic narration of its clever director.

We are happy to report that, unlike many cheapskate directors who save money by doing their own voice-overs, this director is actually a fairly good voice and speaks with intelligence and drama. David Cherniak directs with aplomb. He also led the film for the recent look at Bob Lazar in late middle age, revisited. Don’t hold it against him.

UFOs: The Secret History  is indeed a history, but with few secrets. It does have a plethora of marvelous clips from classic sci-fi films as part of its narrative.

His hilarious insights that are new include the notorious “pelican” theory that Kenneth Arnold in 1947 actually saw pelicans flying in formation at 1700 mph and called them saucers.

Yes, a scientist tells us this with a straight face.

When it comes to more serious matters, director David Cherniak still chooses photos that are unusual, not ones you’d see on Ancient Aliens. He does give us a a fresh take on Orson Welles, Roswell, Project Grudge, and the usual litany of UFO incidents that brought us to a wholesale government coverup.

He also plays on the notion that seeing UFOs was psychological, part of the J. Allen Hynek approach, which was code for saying the viewer of such events had a psychological problem. Even Hynek was turned into a buffoon over “swamp gas.” Well, yes, being called a nutcase is distressing.

One turning point is hardly secret: abductions of Betty and Barney Hill of New Hampshire, the template for lost time and sexual abuse by space creatures.  There is no secret about the Travis Walton case, but it grabbed worldwide attention, as did the appearance of elderly Jesse Marcel who was at the Roswell crash in 1947, blowing the whistle.

If there is a secret here, that may be the hybridization plan of aliens to take over the Earth in subtle fashion by genetics. Oh, that secret…

 

 

 

 

 

Biggest Bit Player in 20th Century!

DATELINE: Changing the World

 Shannon.

Imagine being one of the most important people to live in the 20th century and being unknown!

This documentary teases us with the notion that we are remiss to have missed Claude E. Shannon, the greatest inventor/scientist of the 20thcentury. He is called The Bit Player because he is the man who created ‘the bit” as part of the first “thinking machine.”

Yes. He’s right up there with Einstein, though no one has given him the time of day. His theoretics led to the iPhone, email, and all the other unquestioned intrusions into life. He rode a unicycle and juggled, and some thought he was a walking, breathing, thinking carnival barker.

Years ago we used to drive past his home in Winchester, Massachusetts, all the time, but only now do we recognize that a great man lived in that distinctive house. Had we known, we might have dropped in as unannounced as a text message from a stranger.

Eclectic, poetic, he was all you would never think was a scientist. He once invented a flaming trumpet for his high-school age son who was in a marching-band.

Growing up in the Midwest, he came to MIT after writing a stunning Master’s Thesis at age 21, years before Alan Turing’s seminal work. Shannon created codes, and in particular he made the binary code, and his two-number system meant that 1+1=1.  Uh-oh, that meant you were a nutcase in 1930.

Idiosyncratic sometimes makes you an academic pariah, but many of Shannon’s ideas were borderline science fiction and considered useless. If there was no personal PC, how could they be implemented or pragmatic?

How much call was there for a calculator that worked in Roman numerals? He loved to tinker and to let his mind wander the byways of opportunity, much like his pioneer grandfather.

When he spent a year at Princeton, Shannon used to wave every morning at Einstein as the genius walked to Princeton, but is vague about their meeting and interactions. He said he met Einstein but Einstein likely had no memory of meeting him.

It is characteristic of oddity in this biographical story.

With much derived from a filmed interview he gave late in life, we have evidence of a vibrant, ageless thinker that displays the power that must have been thwarted all too often in the earlier days of the 20thcentury.

This man gave Marshall McLuhan all the war and peace in the global village that he could muster. It’s always delightful to meet the most important people you never knew existed.

 

 

 

 

White Stone, Gold Finch, Good Fortune

DATELINE: Sweet Augurs

You may come to wonder how serendipity causes a trio of augurs to show up on your doorstep in one week.

Here, at my haunted home, there is never a doubt that serendipity is the direct action of some spirits from another dimension.

In the grand scheme of good portents of the future, we have been quite lucky to find these arriving:  the colors are as spectacular as the items. Gold and white: symbols of positive energy.

After a tropical deluge, we discovered a flat white piece of quartz sat alongside the driveway where it was not a day before. We might think it washed across a lawn and deposited itself in a visible spot.

We might think, like frogs dropping in a rainstorm, the small white stone dropped like manna from heaven, however un-gravitational the theory is.

We do know that 100 years ago a previous resident of my neighborhood was an inveterate rock collector at age 10.  He went seeking geological anomalies around the pathways. When he moved to Waikiki Beach in 1900, he went climbing Diamond Head searching for volcanic stones.

Percy was his name, and it almost feels as if Percy may have left his calling card in the flat white stone. It came to us like something from his collection.

If white quartz has any special meaning, experts of the occult will tell you it opens your mind to receiving and learning new ideas. It also has the power of patience in its feel and look; you will not be less than tactful in dealing with the world.

Above all else, you can thank white quartz, discovered by accident, to create situations not limited by stressful responsibilities.

These are the points of wisdom from centuries of soothsayers and fortune tellers. For an oldster, the white quartz likely will improve memory and concentration, not small feats.

Not long after came the next augur of something special.

We’ve never been one to believe in totem animals as our patron. Yet, having lived in urban areas for decades, to find Nature outside the window in summer has been illuminating.

We have never seen a gold finch in person and up close until now. And, twice in a week, the itsy bird with the black-tipped wings has flown up to the window as I sip coffee and gaze out.

The first visit he stayed longer and peered at me, and the next he seemed to check on my well-being later in the day.

Again, those purveyors of prophecy will tell you that the gold finch holds special symbolism.

The gold finch is known to bring with his visit the promise of brighter days and the insurance of achieving your dreams.

It seems the gold finch chooses you and presents you with his gift to appreciate beauty and art. If you are on your journey to spiritual well-being, you will find the talent to be what you need to become, no matter how old you are.

How can the appearance of these three augurs be an accident of fate? They seem part of a larger haunting spirit that stays in this enchanted home where I now live.

If ever I wondered why I found this place and why I am here, it no longer matters. A force has engulfed me in my new and final phase of life.

One moment seldom defines a lifetime unless you happen to be on the Titanic, at Gettysburg, or in the Alamo. Some spirits are enhanced by these fateful occurrences. If you are lucky, you may find a guide to take you along their mystical journey across time and space.

Franchise Detectives: Blanc and Poirot

 

DATELINE: TV or Not TV

As if one fiasco performance was not enough in Murder on the Orient Express,Kenneth Branagh has pasted on his giant fake mustache for a second Poirot adventure based on Agatha Christie.

Yes, he is sailing down and down: Death on the Nile. will render another horrible remake of the murder mystery. Put aside the diminutive expert work of David Suchet a few years ago, Branagh is a behemoth in the role (too big for his tiny mincing steps).

Why would Branagh chose to do a franchise murder mystery series on the bigger screen after doing every Shakespearean play that fit his mood on film?

Likely it is the same reason that Daniel Craig has given up James Bond’s franchise to play a cornpone detective named Benoit Blanc from New Orleans. As one character noted, it was CSI by ways of KFC. Knives Out  will be followed by Knives In and Out.

Craig’s character is not even clever, except as the writer lets him solve the crime. Bombast seems to highlight these new detectives who’d never cut it on TV weekly in the old heyday of McCloud and  Rockford.

All-star supporting casts seem to be a draw for these films now: you find faces (some old TV stars) that yearn to be back in the public favor, and you have a cast of suspects that is often highly amusing. Their biggest crime is wanting a comeback role.

So, we will have more of these franchise detectives. The roles are not exactly Prince Hamlet, but great roles often have been reprised by different actors. For almost a century Basil Rathbone was considered the be-all, end-all Sherlock until Jeremy Brett gave him a run.

Now we have new actors (well, very old actors) in new versions of old wine. We toast their hubris.