Thursday, December 24, 2015

Three Sherlockian Scrooges - in the Spirit of Christmas Present.

"It is just possible that I am saving a soul," {Sherlock Holmes, "The Blue Carbuncle".}

Today is Christmas Day. As usual, I'll re-read these classic Christmas tales by Dickens and Doyle and (for dessert) remind myself of the definitive Holmes and Scrooge I find in Jeremy Brett and Alastair Sim.

This annual pleasure reminded me that several actors made their mark in both fictional worlds. There are likely more than the three ghosts I conjure here (please add others in a comment) but I limit this seasonal post to a trio you can view on Youtube.

Basil Rathbone as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol", 1958.
In 1954, Basil Rathbone played Jacob Marley's Ghost to Fredric March's Scrooge. This TV production may be viewed here:

Four years later, he essayed the main role, thus becoming the only actor I know who has played Watson, Holmes, Marley and Scrooge. His 1958 performance may be seen here:

 20 Christmases earlier, in 1938, Reginald Owen stepped in for an injured Lionel Barrymore to play Scrooge in MGM's "A Christmas Carol". Owen, of course, had previously played Dr. Watson in the 1932 Clive Brook "Sherlock Holmes" and Holmes himself in 1933's "A Study in Scarlet".

Reginald Owen as Scrooge in 1938.

Here's Lionel Barrymore generously introducing Owen's performance in the film's official trailer:

Perhaps the most significant figure in this little history is Sir Seymour Hicks.

Sir Seymour Hicks as Scrooge in 1935.

 In 1893, aged 22, Hicks made history as the world's first embodiment of Dr. Watson (see my previous post Enter Sherlock Holmes ). At 30, in 1901, he premiered on stage in the Dickens role, eventually playing it thousands of times. Here's a clip from his first (silent) film in the role:

The second (sound) film of 1935 is much more interesting, not least because, though he's forty years older, it preserves the voice of the world's first Watson. You can watch the film here:

"And so, as Tiny Tim said, 'A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!" 

© Ray Wilcockson (2015) All Rights Reserved


  1. The voice of the first Watson, nice, and Merry Christmas to you!

  2. As with the elderly Gillette, eh? I doubt we'll ever hear the voice of Charles Brookfield who died in 1913 ... and don't even mention John Webb! Merry Christmas, Howard, to you and yours!