|Jeremy Brett: The Definitive Sherlock Holmes|
|Reviewed by Charles Prepolec|
|Jeremy Brett: The Definitive Sherlock Holmes
By Linda Pritchard
Paradise Books 2001
|Jeremy Brett: The Definitive Sherlock Holmes is an interesting, although slightly misleading, title for Linda Pritchard’s (Brett's sometime companion in his last years) second book on the subject of Jeremy Brett. For starters it gives the impression that the book is very much about Brett as Holmes, which is not exactly the case. Secondly it is liable to ruffle a few feathers amongst Sherlockians as the word “definitive” will, no doubt, be hotly debated for its application to Brett. Perhaps the phrase A Pictorial Tribute to, which appears only on the front cover, preceding the main title of Jeremy Brett: The Definitive Sherlock Holmes, might have been a more apt choice in naming this particular book, for that is precisely what this is. A pictorial tribute to Jeremy Brett the man; the actor; and possibly even the definitive Sherlock Holmes.
The slender large format trade paperback is really a very lovely photo-album consisting of about 100 pictures, mostly black and white, of Brett throughout his career. It is an eye-opening experience to discover the range of looks that Brett had captured in his wide variety of roles on stage, television and the occasional film. The section about stage performances is possibly the most interesting as we can see a very youthful and frightened looking Mark Antony in 1954 give way to a sophisticated and haunted Hamlet in 1961. We have a bewhiskered Che Guevera in 1969 rubbing shoulders with a smiling George Tesman in a 1970 production of Hedda Gabler, followed by the flamboyant Dracula of 1978 and culminating in the world-weary Holmes in the The Secret of Sherlock Holmes.
The Films section is painfully short, a reminder that Brett’s youthful good looks never really impacted on the big screen. It consists mainly of a few stills from War and Peace and, of course, My Fair Lady.
The television section (excluding Holmes) offers a fascinating glimpse into some long unseen roles. We have Brett as the smugly sinister Dorian Gray in 1963 contrasting nicely with the dashingly handsome D’Artagnan of 1966, both roles which likely suited him very well. His roles in the 1980s – 1990’s are also nicely represented, with stills from The Good Soldier, Macbeth for HBO, and Deceptions for NBC featured amongst them. The book, now at the halfway mark then switches over to Sherlock Holmes.
The Holmes section of the book is pretty standard fare actually, consisting mainly of oft-seen Granada publicity stills. 8 pages of colour photos are also included in this section adding very little to the impact of the book as a whole.
The text elements of the book are relatively short and, quite frankly, outside of the acting credits, mainly of the “Jeremy was a kind, wonderful man who touched my life and is greatly missed” variety, saying more about the contributors (a somewhat gushy fan letters section in particular) than they do about Brett. The final 20 pages consist entirely of text, the bulk of which is simply an obligatory appendix, listing cast and broadcast dates for each episode of the Granada series, followed by adverts for Brett websites and other books on Brett available from Rupert Books.
So is it a good book? Well, if you adore Jeremy Brett and would enjoy perusing a photo-album of his career, then by all means, it is a good book. If however you are interested in a book about what it is that, for many, makes Jeremy Brett the “definitive” Holmes, I say look elsewhere, as you’d be better served by either David Stuart Davies Bending the Willow or Michael Cox’s A Study in Celluloid.
The book can be ordered online from Rupert Books in the UK or Classic Specialties in the US.
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