Saturday, March 11, 2017

I saw Joshua Kennedy's Return of Sherlock Holmes...

You can take all of your current, Hollywood hotshots and toss 'em away. In my estimation, they don't hold a candle to the outstanding talent of writer/director/producer Joshua Kennedy. That's because Kennedy understands (i.e., remembers) how movies were once made. However, when need be, Kennedy's modern sensibilities easily surpass any offered by those young upstarts who get their breaks not through talent, but nepotism and loads of unjustified luck. Trust me: In the vastness of all the Hollywood phonies and wannabes, Kennedy is a breath of fresh air and in every respect, the real deal!!!

My claim is aptly demonstrated by his latest endeavor, "The Return of Sherlock Holmes": a 2016 tribute to the filmmaking style of Terence Fisher's "Hound of the Baskervilles"; Billy Wilder's "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes"; and any number of other above-average Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adaptations that have surfaced over the decades. Yep, "Return of Sherlock Holmes" truly does it right, mostly because it's done in the manner of those adaptations that have done it right.

The film's structure is episodic, catering to Doyle's "The Empty House" and "The Six Napoleons" (both included in the author's anthology, "The Return of Sherlock Holmes"), with Kennedy giving an exemplary performance as the legendary, Baker Street detective. The beautiful Bessie Nellis stars as Dr. Watson, and though she's not the first, female Watson to bless celluloid, she's certainly the most enchanting; and her performance complements Kennedy's to a tee. Talk about chemistry! It rolls off this spry couple in spades. 

The overlap of Doyle's yarns flows fast and flawlessly (as anyone acquainted with the short stories will see), which is good, for there have been a few Holmes entries to hit a slow snag or two, but "Return of Sherlock Holmes" gallops forth with an eager gait, thanks to Kennedy's excellent script and directorial style. Sure, we know that Holmes and Watson will solve the mysteries, but the build-up in each instance makes one yearn for such with increased fervor (and a few laughs), even if an air of familiarity prevails from the classic plots. 

To make the scenarios credible, the film's presentation of London remarkably hits the mark. How Kennedy succeeded in capturing all the right details on what's evidently a small budget (staged entirely at Pace University, by the way) is beyond me; but hey, that's what talent (and caring enough to remember) is all about. In fact, all involved in this movie deserve a standing ovation for pulling off a product that, unlike most big-budget counterparts, stays in amazing grace with its atmospheric subject matter. 

Incidentally, the superb, supporting cast consists of Jorge Chapa (of HBO's "Divorce", who supplies ample, quippy humor); Quinn Corcoran; Jonathan Danziger; Alejandro Hoyos; Patrick Keenan; William McKinley; Mark Rosenfeld; Traci Thomas; Jake Williams; and the ever jubilant Amy Zilliax as Mrs. Hudson. In a stylish cameo as the dastardly Professor James Moriarty, we're given the great Mark Redfield, who gave us one of the best adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" ever to grace film, stage or video; and Mark Holmes, acclaimed Femforce contributor, also makes an appearance--whose presence is now an established tradition in Kennedy's Gooey Film Productions--which is every bit as wonderful as those that have preceded it. As with any Kennedy production, each participant lends a special quality to the scenes and interludes in which they're featured, helping to make the production an indisputable, professional effort.

Because Kennedy so expertly captures the classy flair of the Holmes movies of old, I implore him to do a sequel. He's so natural in the role that it would be blasphemous to let the opportunity slip. Similarly, get Nellis and Zilliax back into the swing of it. Heck, do a whole darn series!!! (I, for one, would love to see Kennedy put his spin on "The Red-Headed League" and "A Scandal in Bohemia".)

"Return of Sherlock Holmes" is now available for purchase at ... (Also, for the record, other Kennedy titles are listed through the same source, including the DVD of "Night of Medusa"/"Slave Girls on the Moon"; please check out my double-feature review when you visit.) Anyway, it's all quite elementary, my dear reader, so do yourself a favor and add some of that infectious Kennedy charm to your movie collection today!!!


  1. A friend and I were just comparing Nellis' Watson portrayal to that of Kathryn Erbe's Alexandra Eames on "Law and Order CI". (Eames is based on Watson, as fans know.) I think that Nellis' portrayal, in addition to being officially linked, of course, is more in tune with Doyle's design, even more so than some of the males who've played the part. There's a proper balance of inquisitive humor and smarts in Nellis' interpretation. That makes her on target in my estimation and in the highest order. (Lucy Liu's portrayal, though engaging, is more of its own thing: more cleverly irreverent, one could argue, than faithful.)

  2. Really great blog post and I have to say, I agree with most of your comments. Bessie Nellis did a great job as Dr. Watson. I really enjoyed the portrayal. It was a pleasure to watch and to read your post!

  3. Thank you for your kind comments, Kayla. I would love to see Kennedy and Nellis return for more adaptations.