Everything I have I owe to Basil Rathbone

 

brathbone172OK, so maybe not everything, but the passion which currently controls my course in life I owe entirely to him. And I’d say that’s enough to thank him for.

It was about three and a half years ago when I discovered Basil Rathbone. I’d read my first Sherlock Holmes book earlier that year, and wanted to draw him, so I Googled “pictures of Sherlock Holmes,” and I saw many pictures of Basil Rathbone a la Sherlock Holmes. Right then and there I became enraptured with him. I got some SH movies for Christmas a month later, two of which were Basil’s films. From there, I got the rest of his SH films from the library. He was, and always will be, my favorite Sherlock Holmes incarnation. Before long it wasn’t just his Holmes that I liked, but the man himself. I began to draw him, I printed out his picture and put it in my diary, I memorized the poem he wrote, and read his quotes and snippets from his autobiography. I Googled him to find every possible scrap of information I could – it was great! But then an odd feeling came, something I had not anticipated – of all things, I began to miss him. How can one miss a person they have never actually met? I don’t know, but somehow, it happened. It was then that I would lay in bed and cry at night sometimes – mostly because I’d not been able to ever share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. I felt guilty because of it, of all stupid things. Honestly, it was really quite horrible – but it was the start of a passion. Now, up to that point, I had wanted to be a dog trainer, but somehow, I admit I’m not really sure how, that passion began to fade, and in its place came a passion for the lost souls in Hollywood. It hurt, not only emotionally, but physically sometimes, and I kind of hated it, but it didn’t go away, and I don’t think it ever will.

So thanks, Basil, I owe it all to you. You put me through a lot of pain and sorrow, but now that I’ve worked things out in my heart and mind, I look back and see that you have given me something I don’t think anyone else ever could have. Not only have you given me countless hours of fun, yes, and a few heartaches, but you’ve instilled in me a passion – a passion for the unsaved in Hollywood – I know what I want to do with my life now. I couldn’t tell you – there’s no way I could have – but since I can’t, I’ll just tell someone else.

If I could, I’d like to say thanks to you, but I guess I can’t, so that’s why I wrote this…

Happy Early Birthday Basil Rathbone

Just to answer any question that may have arisen from my title, I’m not going to be available to post on June 13th (Basil’s actual birthday) or any time closer to it, so I have to do it early.

It’s hard to believe that this is only the third of Basil’s birthdays that I’ve celebrated. It seems, somehow, that I’ve always know him. This poem that you are about to read was written only a few months after I had first “met” him, so it’s a bit more gushing than I would write it now, but hey, give me a break, I was fourteen.brathbone172

Basil

By R. Noel Landis

The eyes,

Blue to those you knew

And knew you,

But black to those of us who’ve only guessed

At what you were really like.

Soft and dreamy

But hidden deep inside

Is love, kindness, and a hint of roguish playfulness,

Enrapturing and beating down

The unsuspecting girl

Who falls into your clutches

As the villain or the madman.

Lifting up and pulling in

The poor and needy lady

Or the high and lofty woman

As hero and as lover.

The voice,

Deep and subtly rich,

Sweet in overflowing character

And letting our spirits soar.

We cannot think of anything else,

Not wanting to miss a single word.

If only we could have really heard you

And not have had to rely

On what you left behind.

Little heard laughter,

How we wish to hear it more,

Cheering over victory,

Or quiet simple pleasures.

The mouth,

Like no other

As it shapes its words of hatred or of love.

Small and finely turned up at the corners,

With the personality of life itself.

It catches the eyes,

Framed by the usual mustache.

We peer blissfully

Trying not to overlook its smooth movement,

Sole in its matchless perfection.

The hands,

Gentle, tender, and smooth,

But strong and very firm.

Stroking heads, shaking hands,

Touching keys, holding cigarettes and pipes.

We watch and peer,

Looking eagerly at every touch.

Unmistakable in their movement,

Catching eyes and drawing attention.

They say so much with every motion.

Swift but careful,

Calm but eager,

Leading women across the floor,

Meticulously searching the crime scene,

Grasping knives and guns with intent to kill,

Holding children’s hands.

The whole of you,

Towering over some

But eye to eye with others.

Enchanting us in every movement,

Every bit of you unique,

We cannot take our eyes away

For fear of missing something.

Born in South Africa

Yet British through and through,

Faithful husband

Loving father

Patriotic countryman

Excelling actor.

We lost something that day

July 21, 1967,

75 years after that wonderful day

June 13, 1892.

We miss you,

Even though you left us before we knew you

We have come to know you by what you left behind.brc961