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Sherlock Holmes Copyright Holder Won't Tolerate Gay Subtext


Andrea Plunket, who holds the U.S. copyright to Sherlock Holmes is not happy that Robert Downey Jr. has been joking that the subtext of Holmes and Watson in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes is gay.

Said Plunket: “I hope this is just an example of Mr. Downey's black sense of humour. It would be drastic, but I would withdraw permission for more films to be made if they feel that is a theme they wish to bring out in the future. I am not hostile to homosexuals, but I am to anyone who is not true to the spirit of the books.”

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  1. Oh, and making Sherlock Holmes a veritable action hero is true to the original spirit of the books?

    Posted by: peterparker | Jan 4, 2010 2:36:50 PM

  2. Um, Plunket sure sounds hostile to gay people. He protests too much. Plus, hello, the story (in the books and common lore) has just as much homosexual subtext as the movie. How silly to be afraid of homosocial storylines because they are implicitly homosocial.

    Instead, we have reason to suspect Plunket's willingness to be true to books; he seems awfully bent on reading in a far-right perspective in everything. It's too bad such a gay-hater has power in the movie industry.

    Bravo, Robert Downey, Jr! The movie was not explicitly gay (and at most, one could imagine a bi-sexual male-male relationship between the two, just as one could imagine in the story generally, movie aside). However, Downey's playfulness about the whole thing actually got me to check out the movie and I quite enjoyed it. Too many action flicks are stalely de-sexualized. I would like more action flicks if they involved better more-human characters; these guys were great. Thank you, Downey.

    Posted by: jon | Jan 4, 2010 2:39:53 PM

  3. "I have gay friends, BUT...."

    Posted by: Grimmlok | Jan 4, 2010 2:46:01 PM

  4. PETERPARKER hit it on the nose. When my friends asked me if I was going to see Sherlock I replied by saying only, "In the movie trailer he uses a taser"

    Posted by: Eric26 | Jan 4, 2010 2:47:48 PM

  5. Jeremy Brett could not have gotten much gayer with his portrayal of Holmes. Robert Downey was like John Wayne compared to the late Mr. Brett's characterization...

    Posted by: Chopsie | Jan 4, 2010 2:50:12 PM

  6. She has no right.

    An actor's choice of subtext is personal decision.It has NOTHING to do with a writer's perspective of the piece. Nor is it the business of the playwright, director or audience for that matter.

    He(Downy) could have had a back story in his head, saying that Sherlock and my pretend husband(Watson) had been each others FF buddies up until 3 years prior. Why are we to know this or care?

    As long as the audience enjoys the end product. Who gives a damn?

    Posted by: Mamma Rice | Jan 4, 2010 3:02:09 PM

  7. Andrea Plunket? THE Andrea Plunket? 4-times married Ex-Lover of Claus von Buelow? Hostess of the Catskills B&B 'the Guest House'? When did she become an expert on Doyle's spirit? And didn't she actually lose several cases over her claim to 'own' the copyrights on ACD's work in the US? All copyrights on ACD works in the UK ceased in 2000. Her permission may not be needed to get Sherlock 2 going.

    Posted by: hugo | Jan 4, 2010 3:19:57 PM

  8. US copyright law is ridiculous. While they serve the needs of the money interests, the heirs of authors, they certainly do not serve the needs of the public. Here is what the Wikipedia says about the Doyle copyrights.

    Some or all works by this author are in the public domain in the United States because they were published before January 1, 1923.

    The author died in 1930, so works by this author are also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. Works by this author may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

    Posted by: PearlsBeforeSwine | Jan 4, 2010 3:31:01 PM

  9. Ms. Plunket is quoted as aaying "I am not hostile to homosexuals". Sorry but the overall context of your statement makes me think you are, dearie!

    Posted by: Rob | Jan 4, 2010 3:37:55 PM

  10. How do mere homoerotic undertones in a film adaptation affect the "spirit" of the books? The woman must have a very stereotyped view of homosexual men.

    Posted by: Luke | Jan 4, 2010 3:43:56 PM

  11. I thought they were doing each other from the beginning. At least RDjr and Jude are pretty to look at.

    Posted by: Newportjoey | Jan 4, 2010 3:51:46 PM

  12. The odd thing is that the only thing Downey is getting in trouble for is talking about it in public. If the film's wonderfully unsubtle subtext had been left to stand for itself it seems like no one would have cared. Holmes can be gay as long as he's closeted!

    Posted by: mcc | Jan 4, 2010 4:11:23 PM

  13. She is definitely NOT the "copyright holder." From


    A recently created web site for "the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate" represents Andrea Plunket, the former wife of Sheldon Reynolds, producer of the 1954 television series starring Ronald Howard as Holmes. Reynolds controlled the copyrights in the 1950s.

    Plunket is proprietor of a guest house in Livingston Manor, New York. Her claims to rights in the Sherlock Holmes stories have been repeatedly rejected in U.S. federal court decisions (including Plunket v. Doyle, No. 99-11006, Southern District of New York, February 22, 2001; Pannonia Farms Inc. v. ReMax International and Jon Lellenberg, No. 01-1697, District of Columbia, March 21, 2005).

    She has also filed a claim to the name "Sherlock Holmes" as a United States trademark, and it too has been turned down.

    Posted by: Mitchell | Jan 4, 2010 4:31:50 PM

  14. Billy Wilder directed the gayest Holmes movie where Robert Stephens as Holmes starts a rumor that he and Watson have been lovers for years! Check out THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.

    Posted by: Tom Lamme | Jan 4, 2010 5:33:09 PM

  15. As many have noted, the movie wasn't true to the original books, aside from the names (and many not even that--including the lead villain). I've them committed to memory. His suggestion that it's not homophobia and is concern with the preservation of the "spirit of the books" is a flat out lie. The movie was awful, I'd like to add. This man's a bigot, end of story. And perhaps elderly. Like many of his generation that are bigots, hopefully he too will pass on soon.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 4, 2010 6:14:29 PM

  16. Excuse me, I often associate homophobia of this degree with men. Switch up the pronouns when applicable.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 4, 2010 6:16:03 PM

  17. And jeremy brett was the best Holmes ever.

    Posted by: TANK | Jan 4, 2010 6:21:28 PM

  18. This simply underscores the need for common-sense 2010-era copyright reform. That includes scaling back copyright to a maximum of 5 years, and elimination of copyright enforcement regarding non-commercial use.

    Call your Representative, and demand common-sense copyright reform.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 4, 2010 6:25:06 PM

  19. When I heard Ritchie was making a Holmes film I read every single story there was. I learned that 1) Watson was not a bumbling idiot and 2) Holmes was pretty much asexual.

    The movie would have you believe that Holmes and Adler were madly in love with each other. Though Holmes greatly admired Adler he was never in love with her. Holmes taking a romantic interest anybody would not be in keeping with "spirit" of the books.

    Posted by: johnathan | Jan 4, 2010 6:38:16 PM

  20. I'm okay with the gays, just not in my movie... gimme a break, Sherlock as "action-hero" is true to the spirit?!

    The great thing about homophophia is that they can't even fathom how homophobic they are...

    ps: "homophobia" shows in my message as highlighted for spell-check, making my point perfectly.

    Posted by: stephen | Jan 4, 2010 7:27:16 PM

  21. Personally, I don't think this guy(?)'s comment is especially is especially homophobic, I do wonder if Plunket is new to the whole concept of the "movie machine"? Downey Jt. is doing what stars do when they're promoting a movie- he's being provocative & generating publicity. That's how they're going to generate some box office heat. And has Plunket actually seen this movie? It's uneven, ham-fisted in some parts (what was with the Matrix style anatomy lessons?)and the script is "thin", but the one thing it's not is gay. There is no romantic chemistry between the leads. Maybe if there was, the movie would have been more enjoyable.

    Posted by: Ealan | Jan 4, 2010 8:40:13 PM

  22. Billy Wilder directed the gayest Holmes movie where Robert Stephens as Holmes starts a rumor that he and Watson have been lovers for years! Check out THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.

    Posted by: Tom Lamme | Jan 4, 2010 5:33:09 PM

    Thank you for saying this. She's a hypocrite for saying what she said, and then completely ignoring the context of this portion of the film.

    Posted by: CD | Jan 4, 2010 9:46:03 PM

  23. I haven't seen it yet but this makes it even more appealing. Whether it's bro-mance or full on gay relations I can honestly say I got some sort of Smithers/Mr. Burns thing going in my mind when I heard these stories as a kid. Maybe it's the British thing, but either way it was definitely in the books.

    Posted by: Marie | Jan 5, 2010 12:16:10 AM

  24. Best part in finding more info about this woman was a blog entry from '05. The ending paragraphs are gold.

    "Some twenty-odd years ago, when Andrea Plunket was still married to the film producer Sheldon Reynolds, I had dinner with her. Yes, I know, it's a very modest distinction, but some of us have to clutch at straws. Anyway, I found Andrea to be a perfectly amiable person, but that was not a universal view.

    After Andrea and Sheldon were divorced (I don't know who did what to whom), she went off and became the close companion of Claus von Bulow. Yes, that very same Claus von Bulow who was accused of murdering his wife Sunny with a lethal injection of insulin, and who was, in due course, acquitted by a jury. His story was turned into a film, Reversal of Fortune, starring Jeremy Irons (who won an Oscar in the process).

    At one point in all these shenanigans, Sheldon Reynolds was asked what he thought of his ex-wife going around with a man who had been accused of murder.

    Sheldon gave it a bit of thought. 'Well,' he said, 'let's put it this way. If Claus marries Andrea, he'll wish he'd been found guilty.' "

    Heh, the rest is found here

    Posted by: Streeter | Jan 5, 2010 2:11:47 AM

  25. All but one Sherlock Holmes story/novel is in the Public Domain in the US. Andrea doesn't own anything, who cares. I feel foolish that I even read the article.

    Posted by: Kentie | Jan 5, 2010 6:47:09 PM

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