Monday, December 28, 2009

Sherlock Holmes -- one bad ass m***f***er

Sherlock Holmes is not an action hero. That’s like the Hunchback of Notre Dame being a romantic lead or Santa Claus being a Zionist leader. The element that separates Sherlock Holmes from other detectives is that he uses his superior intellect and powers of deductions to solve crimes and that compensates for not having physical gifts. See, it’s elementary.

Holmes is not England’s 19th century James Bond. He’s not Batman. He’s not Rambo, McCain, Chan, G.I. Joe. He solves mysteries. He doesn’t kick serious ass.

The new SHERLOCK HOLMES as redefined by Hollywood is just another franchise, another assembly line holiday/summer blockbuster comic book character. His competition isn’t evil geniuses, it’s Avatars. And since it is pulling in decent numbers expect to see Gandhi next summer packing heat and plenty pissed.

But even that wasn’t my biggest problem with SHERLOCK HOLMES. It wasn’t even a GOOD action movie. Yes, the effects were spectacular and all the CGI magic was in evidence but the story was a confusing convoluted mess. Half the time you’re saying, “where is he now?… what is he doing? … what did he just say?… how’d he get the doctor costume? … “who is this guy again?… "why does Holmes have bandages on two fingers in some scenes and not others and how did he get injured?...how much longer till we can go get something to eat?”

This is not surprising when you see there are like fifteen writers. There must’ve been 62 drafts of this. I guarantee for every writer who received screen credit there are three more who didn’t.

The bottom line is this: if the audience isn’t hooked into the story, all the dazzling stunts and action leaves you flat. I sat there watching thrilling chase scenes and mega explosions and wondered to myself, “why am I so bored?” Sometimes you can jam too much into a story. Sometimes you need to go a little slower to make sure the audience is still with you and not texting.

The good news about SHERLOCK HOLMES is that Robert Downey Jr. is his usual fabulous self. The movie is worth “seeing” (and by that I mean Netflixing) just for him. He plays Holmes with the requisite insouciance and intelligence. Thank you Warner Brothers for not casting the Rock.

Jude Law was surprisingly good as Dr. Watson. He seemed to be having the most fun of everyone in the movie. Rachel McAdams had the most challenging role of all – you try to running and jumping around in action sequences wearing a Victorian gown with an overskirt and eight layers of linings. Mark Strong played the dastardly Lord Blackwood. Picture Stanley Tucci as Dracula.

If you’re just looking for a two-hour thrill ride or escape from those visiting out of town relatives then sure, check out SHERLOCK HOLMES. This was the kind of fare I would definitely see when I was in this movie’s target demographic… of course I would get stoned first. But if you revere the legend, you might want to pass. I personally have a certain standard when it comes vehicles featuring Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective: “No shit Sherlock”.

Tomorrow: my pick for movie of the year.

30 comments:

David K. M. Klaus said...

Holmes was athletic as well as intelligent and observant. Watson in the stories describes him as an expert boxer, fencer, and singlestick fighter (a type of lengthy wooden cudgel, now out of fashion). Remember, too, that Holmes and Professor Moriarty physically wrestled to the death at the Reichenbach Falls, each trying to throw the other over a cliff, with Holmes winning through the use of a Japanese martial art throw and then having to climb down the cliff-face to avoid being shot by Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's second-in-command, who had waited nearby.

I'm not saying the movie wouldn't have the usual flaws of being written-by-committee that you describe, just that we so think of Holmes as reclining in his chair with his pipe that we forget that in many stories he and Doctor Watson personally physically captured criminals themselves.

BC in OC said...

>>The bottom line is this: if the audience isn’t hooked into the story, all the dazzling stunts and action leaves you flat. I sat there watching thrilling chase scenes and mega explosions and wondered to myself, “why am I so bored?”

You just described the 2.5 hours I wasted watching Avatar.

Scott C. said...

Ken, I shared many of your objections -- it was often difficult to understand the dialogue, action sequences seemed shoehorned into parts of the film that would have better rewarded the viewer with information or character development, and so many of Holmes' signature deductions were saved for the end that the last five minutes played like a "Barnaby Jones" wrap-up. However, Holmes was indeed an action hero, by the standards of his day. As David Klaus observes, he rigorously trained in many martial arts, and frequently requested that Watson bring his service revolver along when the game was afoot, anticipating violent trouble. He wasn't Jackie Chan, but neither was he Nero Wolfe.

And if the picture was disappointing, it did inspire me to download all the books and reacquaint myself with the source material.

Hope said...

I revere the legend-- no exaggeration there-- and I LOVED it. I think you're right on about everything, especially the obviously too many screenwriters, but Jude Law's Watson alone is as close to Doyle's creation as any I've seen. And yes, I am a huge fan of the 1980s Granada adaptations with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke, but my appreciation (as a twentysomething heterosexual woman) of well-acted, downright attractive versions of Holmes and Watson also can't be overstated.

This was the first "Holmes" that ever seemed catered to the legend's female fans, to be honest.
It was a popcorn movie, for sure, but eminently watchable.

wolferiver said...

Ditto to what Hope said. Yes, the story was kind of half-baked (more of a how-he-dunit rather than a whodunit, since there's no secret about who the villain is), and it had a fair amount of far-fetched elements and stunning coincidences. However, I thought that a nimble and physical Holmes was more in keeping with the original characters, and it was nice to see a Watson that wasn't a bumbling fool. Finally finally finally someone in the movie biz showed what each character brings to their celebrated partnership.

I rather liked the Victorian steampunk eye candy, and despite the half-baked plotting, the lines were smart and all the characters were well-acted. I also liked that the director limited his trademark jump cuts, using them only a few times in that curious slo-mo pre-action exposition. Very effective, I thought.

I had been worried that we were going to get a Super Sherlock and his Bumbling Sidekick, Watson -- AND with shakey cam and MTV-style jump cuts as well. I think the director skirted that nicely, but still managed to modernize the story telling. (I have always loathed that awful "elementrary, my dear watson" exposition, and it was a pleasure to not have it AT ALL.)

I stayed for the final credits, and noticed that the movie had a lot of shooting done in NYC, and now I'm curious about that. I hope someone on the DVD explains it.

Bill said...

Speaking of Netflix and Holmes, the Granada series is streaming on "Watch Now" ... now!

Mic said...

WTF?

Did this blog just get spammed to holy hell?

D. McEwan said...

David K. M. Klaus said...
Holmes was athletic as well as intelligent and observant. Watson in the stories describes him as an expert boxer, fencer, and singlestick fighter (a type of lengthy wooden cudgel, now out of fashion). Remember, too, that Holmes and Professor Moriarty physically wrestled to the death at the Reichenbach Falls, each trying to throw the other over a cliff, with Holmes winning through the use of a Japanese martial art throw and then having to climb down the cliff-face to avoid being shot by Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's second-in-command, who had waited nearby.


Everything you say is accurate, but Holmes was about being smarter than everyone else, not breathless fights. The fight with Moriarty for example, occurs "Off-stage." Watson just imagines what he never saw, and he imagines it wrong, as he learns years later. Moriarty, after all, was an old sedentary man, not Oddjob. Chases existed, but are few, far between, and short. The steampacket launch chase in THE SIGN OF FOUR is about the longest, and it's less "action-packed" than the boat chase in the same locale at the climax of Dickens's GREAT EXPECTATIONS. (Pip is back, and he's taking names and kicking ass! This time it's personal!) This wretched movie is all action, action, action.

Doyle's Holmes could box, but he didn't blow off steam going shirtless to fight club. ("Watson, rule number one: don't write about Fight Club.") He blew off steam playing the violin, and escaped boredom with the cocaine needle. He could fence, but he didn't spend all his time in fights. He outsmarted people, not out ran them or outfought them.

"we so think of Holmes as reclining in his chair with his pipe that we forget that in many stories he and Doctor Watson personally physically captured criminals themselves."

What do you mean "we"? Those of us who have read Doyle's stories over and over our whole lives don't think that. WE think of him darting about with a magnifying glass, gathering clues, donning disguises ("But I saw no one." "That is what you may expect to see when I follow you."), stalking the hound across a foggy moor. Most often laying traps that the villains walk right into, only to find Holmes's revolver clapped to their skull, with Gregson or Lestrade ready to clap on the cuffs. We don't forget what's in stories we have cherished for decades.
(continued below)

D. McEwan said...

(pt. 2)
"Scott C. said...
He wasn't Jackie Chan, but neither was he Nero Wolfe."


Nope. Mycroft was Nero Wolfe. (So much so, that the theory was floated for a while that Nero Wolfe was Mycroft's bastard son.) This was why Mycroft referred cases to Holmes, because they required getting out of his chair. But action was a small component of the stories. Sherlock was indeed not Jackie Chan nor Nero Wolfe, nor was he James Bond nor Indiana Jones. And Robert Downey Jr. isn't Sherlock Holmes. Let him (an excellent actor) return to Ironman, and leave the Baker Street Sleuth alone.

"Hope said...
Jude Law's Watson alone is as close to Doyle's creation as any I've seen."


Since you state you've seen the Jeremy Brett versions, no Law isn't. David Burke's and Edward Hardwicke's Watsons are, since they are exactly the man in the stories.

"wolferiver said...
it was nice to see a Watson that wasn't a bumbling fool."


You mean like David Burke's Watson, Edward Hardwicke's Watson, Patrick McNee's Watson, Andre Morell's Watson, James Mason's Watson, Colin Blakeley's Watson, Nigel Stock's Watson, Sir John Mills's Watson, Donald Houston's Watson, even Robert Duvall's embarassing Watson? (Poor Duvall. Great actor ridiculously miscast. That hideous fake accent.) This list goes on. Ben Kinglsey's Watson was more brilliant than Holmes, but that was a spoof. Nigel Bruce played Watson as a bumbling fool. Find me another who did. That remark "it was nice to see a Watson that wasn't a bumbling fool" has been said about EVERY new Watson since Bruce last played him, over 60 years ago. Each and every new intelligent Watson is seen as a novelty, when the bumbling one is the novelty.

This isn't a Sherlock Holmes movie. It's a Guy Ritchie movie, and all that implies. It's a travesty. It makes the same error that Barry Levinson's wretched Young Sherlock Holmes made 24 years ago, trying to turn Sherlock Holmes into Indiana Jones and James Bond.

I knew it was going to stink up the room when I first read Ritchie say he was "going to take the Victorian fuddy-duddiness out of Sherlock Holmes." This terrible filmmaker was going to fix what wasn't broken, and remove "Victorian Fuddy-duddiness" that wasn't there.

I look forward to Guy Ritchie's A Tale of Two Cities when he takes the Victorian fuddy-duddiness out of Dickens, and Sidney Carton kicks French ass, and stops the Reign of terror single-handed.

These characters have been among the handful of most-popular fictional characters ever created for more than a century because they work quite well AS THEY ARE!

Sadly, it did well at the box office over the weekend, so a to-be-dreaded sequel is undoubtedly coming.

What level of education will best supply our viewers now, Holmes?

Elementary, my dear Watson.

Brian Phillips said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I thoroughly enjoy the recent BBC radio versions of Sherlock Holmes. Clive Merrison and the late Michael Williams made a great Holmes and Watson, respectively. Listen to them with earphones and enjoy the incredible audio!

Here is a Friday Question:

I read that due to his quick wit and willingness to work on his lines, Matthew Perry was welcome in the writer's room and some of his suggestions appear uncredited in certain episodes of "Friends".

Which actors have had similar status with you?

Roger Owen Green said...

Your review merely confirmed what the trailer suggested for me, which is that it was superhero fare. I liked Iron Man, actually, but wasn't looking for a sequel this early.

Thanks.

J.J. said...

I hope your number 1 movie isn't Up in the Air. If it is, well, I'll be sorely disappointed in your musical taste.

Brian Phillips said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but for those who like radio, I heartily recommend the Clive Merrison (Holmes) and the late Michael Williams (Watson). The BBC radio series dramatized all of the stories in "the canon". It is very close to the Doyle, well-acted and well-recorded.

Friday question: Matthew Perry earned a reputation for his wit and worked with the "Friends" writers. Some of what he came up with ended up in the show.

Which actors have you worked with that had a similar rapport with the writing staff?

WhitneyD said...

I'm glad to see that so many people are sticking up for Holmes, the Victorian action here. In re-reading the stories, I was surprised to see that I'd forgotten that Holmes was not only a man of thought, but a man of action when the time called for it. And I am quite pleased to see that Watson was finally given the proper characterization- nothing makes me sadder than seeing the man who protected Holmes with his trusty pistol reduced to a doddering sidekick.

That said, the plot is quite thin on the movie itself, but I'd much rather see that than another tired retread of what pop culture has decided Sherlock Holmes was, rather than the man Doyle put to paper.

J.J. said...

I hope your pick for movie of the year isn't Up in the Air. If so, I would loose all respect for your blog.

Toby O'B said...

Another example I'd give of Holmes' strength would be in "The Speckled Band". After the villain bent a fire poker, Holmes casually straightened it back out.....

sephim said...

J.J. - Perhaps then maybe he'll write something after that will tighten it again.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

You nailed it, Ken. I couldn't agree with you more. I thought it was a piece of crap. Hollywoodyness has definitely ruined this one!

Anonymous said...

Holmes did have physical gifts. You're thinking of Watson, who had a bum leg from serving in Afghanistan.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
Holmes did have physical gifts. You're thinking of Watson, who had a bum leg from serving in Afghanistan."


Only in some of the stories. In others, his wound was in the arm. Doyle wrote fast and sloppy, and he didn't bother with revising, so Watson's wound tended to change limbs from time to time.

Hope said...
Jude Law's Watson alone is as close to Doyle's creation as any I've seen.


That's odd, since you state you've seen the Jeremy Brett Holmes series, which is Holmes done to perfection! Edward Hardwicke's performance, and before him, David Burke's was Watson exactly as written.

The whole "at last, for once, Watson is a not bumbling fool" observation is the biggest cliche of Holmes film reviewing in the world. It was applied to both of Brett's Watson's, as well as the Watsons played by James Mason, Nigel Stock, Andre Morell, Colin Blakeley, Donald Houston, Patrick MacNee, even, God help us, Robert Duvall's. (Poor Duvall's accent was a horrible embarassment. Great actor, dreadfully miscast. What was Nicholas Meyer thinking?)

You see, pretty much only Nigel Bruce ever played Watson as a bumbling oaf, and he last played the role well over 60 years ago.

"Hope said...
This was the first "Holmes" that ever seemed catered to the legend's female fans, to be honest."


The correct word isn't "catered;" it's "pandered."

Also, Sherlock Holmes's method of unwinding wasn't going to Fight Club. (Was that omitted from all the stories because Holmes told Watson: "Watson, the first rule of Victorian Fight Club is you don't write about Victorian Fight Club."?) He unwound by playing the violin, and escaped between-case-boredom with the cocaine needle.

What we have here isn't a Sherlock Holmes movie; it's a Guy Ritchie movie. He's bad enough shooting contemporary films. This debasing and raping of Doyle's classic characters, this James Bond/Indiana Jones-in-Victorian-London garbage is not Sherlock Holmes!

Hope said...

In all honesty, Mr. McEwan, I'll take "pandered to." Do you know how few big-budget movies consider their female fans? All the homoeroticism, exposed male bodies, and "kick-ass female surrogates" of "Sherlock Holmes" don't nearly make up for a few decades of pure testosterone-fueled action flicks. At least this one sexed up both sides of the gender binary.

As to the rest of your critiques, you may just be taking this all too seriously. Edward Hardwicke (and Jeremy Brett, for that matter) were too old for their roles. David Burke played Watson as constantly amazed with Holmes, which is extremely tiresome and not the whole story from the Doyle canon. I could argue this all day, but I'm off to see "Sherlock Holmes" a second time, because it was too much damn fun to ignore.

wolferiver said...

I admit I haven't seen all of the many versions of Holmes and Watson on the screen, but of the ones that I have seen -- Nigel Bruce, James Mason, Robert Duval, Alan Cox, and Edward Hardwicke in a few of the television episodes -- I stand by my statement that Watson is generally characterized as a slightly dim bulb next to Holmes' brilliance. Worse yet, he generally follows Holmes around as if he's some sort of puppy dog who would be lost without his master. It's the one thing that always makes me grind my teeth when watching a movie about Holmes. It's more annoying than even the constant exposition. THIS movie is the first one where I haven't had that reaction. As much as you wish to ridicule me for my opinion, all I can say is tomahto/tomayto, pal.

D. McEwan said...

"Edward Hardwicke (and Jeremy Brett, for that matter) were too old for their roles."

Really? What were the character's ages in any given story? Astound me with this arcane knowledge you possess. Apart from "The Musgrave Ritual," and "The Gloria Scott," which were flashbacks to Holmes's youth before he met Watson, and "His Last Bow," which has an elderly Holmes & Watson on the Eve of WWI (and which Brett never filmed), we don't know what their exact ages are in any given story. William Baring-Gould decided on birth dates for them, and went to elaborate lengths to provide dates for every story (which required him to hypothesize a third marriage for Watson. Doyle only gave him two wives), but Baring-Gould's theories are just for fun. We do not know either character's age at any point in the canon, let alone whenever this travesty is set. (I know, very late 1880s. Tower Bridge, which opened in 1894, is under construction)

"David Burke played Watson as constantly amazed with Holmes" As Watson consistently portrayed himself as being in the stories. (Whether Watson dimmed himself down in writing the stories is a theory for another day.) Admittedly, Burke is far from my favorite Watson. But the whole basic concept of Watson as the slower mind setting off Holmes's brilliance is basic to the whole story set-up, and has worked rather well for 130 years now.

"Do you know how few big-budget movies consider their female fans?"

More to the point, do I care? Do you know how many rom-com chick-flicks consider the poor straight saps who have to endure them to get laid? Trust me, no straight male voluntarily sat through the Sex and the City movie or Momma Mia, no matter what they told their wives, girl friends, or dates. But putting a few action sequences into those movies would still have been betraying their fans for the sake of the unwilling part of the audience.

All the homoeroticism, exposed male bodies, and 'kick-ass female surrogates' of 'Sherlock Holmes' don't nearly make up for a few decades of pure testosterone-fueled action flicks.

Nor does it have any obligation to. Nor is there anything to "make up" for. There have always been lots of chick-flicks. That's hardly an excuse to ruin Sherlock Holmes by making him into a bunch of stuff he wasn't.

Nice for you that it got your drives and juices flowing, but that doesn't make it any less of a travesty. If anything, it makes it worse.

wolferiver said...
[Watson] generally follows Holmes around as if he's some sort of puppy dog who would be lost without his master. It's the one thing that always makes me grind my teeth when watching a movie about Holmes. It's more annoying than even the constant exposition. THIS movie is the first one where I haven't had that reaction.

Which boils down to: you don't like Sherlock Holmes stories, and are pleased to have had one warped and ruined to fit your tastes. Those of us who do like Holmes as he is (and Watson the follower and chronicler as he is, and any mystery is going to be exposition-heavy.) are repelled and offended by it.

Just change the characters' names, and stop pretending it's Sherlock Holmes when it isn't, and you can enjoy it (somehow, apart from being a travesty of Holmes, it's a bad movie generally) all you like. But labelling shit as "chocolate" doesn't make it chocolate, and offends those of us who, when eating something labelled "chocolate," want chocolate.

It's a Sherlock Holmes movie for people who hate Sherlock Holmes movies. And a bad movie into the bargain. You have to expect Sherlock Holmes fans to squawk.

Hope said...

D. McEwan:

"Do you know how many rom-com chick-flicks consider the poor straight saps who have to endure them to get laid?"

I'm rather amazed you've ever gotten laid, given your repulsive attitude.

This is the last time I'll say it, and (I think I speak for everyone you've verbally insulted) I will be clear: YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY SHERLOCK HOLMES FAN ON THE INTERNET. Everyone has a right to their opinion on this movie. If it bothered you this much, you likely have other problems that prevent you from taking a FICTIONAL SERIES the way it was intended: as entertainment.

Not everyone who read Doyle's canon sees everything the exact way you do. Yes, Virginia, there is room for interpretation.

Given that you never attempted politeness with the people you abused, we no longer owe any to you. Go pick on someone with as much time on their hands to debate you as you so desperately require.

len dreary said...

I'll probably see it when it hits tv but as a huge Conan Doyle fan and a moviegoer who's totally unimpressed with any of the Guy Ritchie oeuvre I somehow doubt I'll be impressed.

I'd like to see a Moriarty franchise starring John Malkovich.

Kate said...

Speaking as someone who likes both chick flicks and the Sherlock Holmes stories, I appreciate the warning, Ken. I was turned off by the trailers which showed a Holmes more interested in appetites rather than Conan Doyle's asthetic detective and this confirms my impression.

Sherlock Holmes could be physical if he needed to be but he was foremost a man of intellect. That was his advantage, his brains. (And not only Holmes, several of the early detectives were notable for their intellectual abilites such as Poe's Dupin and most notably Futrelle's Van Dusen 'the Thinking Machine'.) Holmes as an action hero is something I'd as soon save my money than see.

Speaking of which, my Friday question is "Is it my perception or have TV comedies become more slapstick/visual humor and less about the wordplay and the subtle? MASH of course was wonderful for being witty and one of my favourite underplayed exchanges comes from the Mary Tyler Moore Show ("He's a pain in the neck." "I have an even lower opinion of him.") but it seems to me that since Fraser ended, TV comedies have been about the simple and the obvious rather than asking the viewer to engage their minds and do some thinking.

D. McEwan said...

Hope said...
D. McEwan:
'Do you know how many rom-com chick-flicks consider the poor straight saps who have to endure them to get laid?'
I'm rather amazed you've ever gotten laid, given your repulsive attitude.


Ah well, like Sherlock Holmes, I'm gay, and don't have to pretend to like chick flicks to get laid. The de-emphasis of romance and the male-bonding of the Holmes stories was thus always one of the attractions. Of course, that "repulsive attitude" is what straight men all actually think; they just hide it from women, because they need them for sex. I don't, and I get to be frank.

Everyone has a right to their opinion on this movie.

And on everything else, and we all get to express ours, which is what I've been doing. Never said they didn't. I'm just disagreeing with yours. That said, an informed opinion is vastly more valuable than an uninformed one.

Go pick on someone with as much time on their hands to debate you as you so desperately require.

So disagreeing in detail with you is "picking on you"? Oh, I bet your boy friends are a secretly miserable bunch. (Thatconstitutes picking on you.) Anyway, If I had as much time on my hands as you think I do, I'd get these reponses posted sooner.

It's ladies like you that make me so glad to be gay.

len dreary said...
I'd like to see a Moriarty franchise starring John Malkovich.


Good idea! Since Moriarty appears so little in the stories (actually only in one, and referred to in two others), there's plenty of elbow room to work with. And he's a compelling character with lots of possibilities.

Kate, love your comments. Right on the nose. You give me hope the fair sex aren't all Hopes.

Anonymous said...

I loved the movie. Big fan of the original stories. Love the Cushing & Brett versions, and a few others. Overall, this was a perfectly balanced best of all worlds. And Holmes is a total super-hero in the stories. Do you know of any crime solving/fighting, boxing, kung-fu fighting, stick fighting, swordsman, master criminal foiling scientists in real life - who also fake their own death, wander the world & return by tricking a master assassin with a wax dummy (!!)...? I thought not.

Xenomorph said...

I liked the film - I didn't think it was hard to follow and there have definitely been many far worse screen versions of the character and few if any better (maybe Jeremy Brett's portrayals were). It didn't think it was an invalid of poor interpretation. I did think it had a touch of Adam Adamant about it though.

Anonymous said...

*laugh* Weighing in a bit late here, but had to correct a couple of errors.

Watson's starting age in "A Study in Scarlet" can easily be extrapolated, since he had just been on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, which was interrupted after being wounded and then falling sick. Almost as soon as he is on his feet again, he has been pensioned off to England, and the story begins shortly afterward.

So: completed medical studies (in 1878) + part of a tour of duty = Watson's age.

In the course of the stories, Watson goes from bachelor to married (Mary Morstan) and possibly to married once or twice more. In Holmes' case, exact dates are given for at least a span of two decades ("dying" at the Falls in 1891 to the eve of World War I). The events of "A Study in Scarlet" are roughly dated to a decade before the fight with Moriarty: so three decades in all.

As to Holmes' physical prowess, try this quote from "The Sign of the Four":

"Very sorry, Mr. Thaddeus," said the porter inexorably. "Folk may be friends o' yours, and yet no friend o' the master's. He pays me well to do my duty, and my duty I'll do. I don't know none o' your friends."

"Oh, yes you do, McMurdo," cried Sherlock Holmes genially. "I don't think you can have forgotten me. Don't you remember that amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back?"

"Not Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" roared the prize-fighter. "God's truth! how could I have mistook you? If instead o' standin' there so quiet you had just stepped up and given me that cross-hit of yours under the jaw, I'd ha' known you without a question. Ah, you're one that has wasted your gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you had joined the fancy."