The Many Watsons – Marty Feldman & Thorley Walters

“The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother” is kind of a two for the price of one. Why? Well it’s the only movie I know of off-hand that has two Watsons! It is another favorite movie of mine. How can you get a better team than Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Dom DeLuise? Slapstick, subtlety, good story line and impeccable timing, what a great group! Wilder is Sigerson Holmes (Sherlock’s younger brother) and Feldman is Orville Sacker (obvious take off on Ormond Sacker) and so becomes Wilder’s Watson. Sherlock Holmes is played by Douglas Wilmer, who is familiar in the role from his 1964 TV series and Dr. Watson is played by Thorley Walters who also played Watson in three other films and was a Hammer Studios regular.  This is definitely not a serious drama but a great farce. Madeline Kahn is amazing as Sigerson’s client and was one of the
best comic actresses of all time, second probably only to Gracie Allan. The plot line is the return of a stolen document to the British Government. The real story is the budding love affair between Sigerson and Jenny (Kahn)and Sigerson’s fight to come out from under the shadow of his famous brother. If you’ve got a sense of humor about the great detective this is a must see.

Marty Feldman is probably one of the most identifiable of all actors. The twisted nose (from boxing in his youth) and his “pop eyes” (a result of a combination of a thyroid condition and a traffic accident) made his features truly unique. He was born in London on 8 July 1933 and grew up in the East End. His parents were immigrants from Kiev. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 and hoped to become a jazz trumpeter. However, he became known as “the worst trumpeter in the world”. He held quite a variety of jobs in his early days including tipster at a greyhound track and and assistant to an Indian fakir in a sideshow. He was much more a writer than an actor or trumpeter and enjoyed writing poetry. He wrote comedy shows for the BBC, both for TV and radio and really did it all: writer, director, and actor. Besides being in the movies he had his own TV show in the 1960s. He was married to his wife Lauretta on 14 January 1959 until his death on 2 December 1982. His death was both unfortunate and odd. Feldman was a four pack a day smoker and drank gallons of coffee but he died from a heart attack brought on by food poisoning from eating shellfish while filming “Yellowbeard” in Mexico. Truly odd was that  the day he died was the day they were to film his final scene for the movie…the death scene of his character. Feldman won two BAFTA awards for his TV show Marty and a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actor for “Silent Movie” in 1977.

Thorley Walters was born in Devonshire on 6 July 1913, a decade before Marty Feldman. Walters is one of those Shakespearean actors that made a the transition to movies with what appeared to be exceptional ease. His first film was in 1935, “The Love Test” and from there on he seems never to have been out of work except for a short hiatus during the war years. While he played bumbling characters (much like Nigel Bruce) he was best known for his comedy roles such as Carlton Brown of the FO and the St. Trinian’s series of comedies. He was also a regular in
the horror film industry of Hammer Studios in all the usual Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and Phantom of the Opera movies. But fortunately for us he
also played our favorite character, Watson. In all he appeared as Watson four times: Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1966), The Best House in London (1969), The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975) and Silver Blaze (1977). Walters died in 1991 having played hundreds of parts.

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One Response to The Many Watsons – Marty Feldman & Thorley Walters

  1. felicia says:

    this is truly one of the greatest movie musicals/Sherlock stories ever done!
    love it, love it, love it.
    wasn’t sure how it would fly with all the true blue Sherlockians.
    but it’s great!

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