For more than a century, purveyors of popular cinema have indulged a penchant for combining and conflating iconic historic and literary characters and texts. Sometimes the results are memorable, and occasionally even eclipse the originals.
Who can forget Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway’s glamorous and vulnerable Bonnie and Clyde, rampaging their way to a martyrdom as magnificent and heroic as it was heedless of reality.
Too often, though, popularization quickly degenerates into vulgarization. Abraham Lincoln, for example, has recently taken to hunting vampires in his spare time.
Two of our own favorites, Frankenstein and Sherlock Holmes, have between them found themselves pitted against Jack the Ripper, Billy the Kid, Adolph Hitler, Jesse James, Abbott and Costello, and a bevy of creatures, monsters and robots from various dimensions, including outer space.
But never, historians assure us, against each other.
All that is destined to change. Marteau Films, a French offshoot of the UK’s Parkland Pictures, has already generated a persistent buzz with its announcement that its Sherlock Holmes vs. Frankenstein will enter production in the months ahead.
Several notable names lend the project ample advance credibility. The co-producer, writer and director (and thus, we must assume, general overseer) is Gautier Cazenave, whose creative touches have been seen in several high-profile films, and who enjoys an excellent reputation on the Continent. This will be his debut as a feature director and, with the expected worldwide release, his name appears likely to reverberate widely among followers of the horror/sci-fi genre.
The cast is to be headed by two names already famous among Sherlockians stateside and Holmesians abroad—Nicholas Rowe and Alan Cox, who, while mere striplings in 1985’s Young Sherlock Holmes, will now nearly three decades later, reprise their roles as a middle aged Holmes and Watson. Both have pursued distinguished careers in the interval, and, as British film and television fans know, each still “looks the part.”
Supporting them will be an intriguing and eclectic mix of talent, including the venerable Shane Briant, presumably at the Frankenstein end; incipient international supermodel Angele Vivier; 7-foot giant John Lebar (as guess who); and, in a delicious coup, true descendant Clement Von Franckenstein (spelling correct) to play his ancestral near-namesake.
At this stage, little else is known. Marteau is mum on its shooting schedule, and gives only “2013” as a release date. Its website lists all personnel as “to be confirmed”—soon, we hope. The blogosphere offers only a glimmer of fact and not even very much gossip.
One bright strand of reality has been the promotional poster, designed by the award-winning Gil Jouin, best remembered for his Cinema Paradiso a generation ago. His work seems to have grown even finer over the years, and is at its best in Sherlock Holmes vs. Frankenstein. The rendering, (see https://mcmurdoscamp.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/snfrankenstein-movie.jpg is aready familiar to Internet followers, and appears literal and conventional at first glance. But in its simplicity it captures Gothic horror, Romantic quest, desperate pursuit, faceless terror, calculating intellect—all we might expect from a seriously conceived and skillfully executed screen showdown between such commanding figures. We shall watch it all unfold with keen interest, and report and react intermittently right here at this site, under the banner of FRANKENSTEIN!