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Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) Poster

Trivia

at around 39 mins) After the death of Waxflatter, Watson is passed in the street by a van bearing the sign "P Newell, Bakers". Patrick Newell played the first victim, Bentley Bobster.
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This trivia item contains spoilers. Click to view
Jump to: Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (5)
(at around 23 mins) First feature film to have a completely CGI (computer graphics image) character: the knight coming out of the stained glass window. Industrial Light & Magic animated the scene, overseen by John Lasseter in a very early film credit for Pixar.
The "Stained Glass Knight" took Industrial Light & Magic artists 4 months to create.
(at around 9 mins) When young Sherlock Holmes and John Watson first meet, Holmes incorrectly guesses that Watson's first initial stands for "James". This is a reference to one of the contradictions in the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories: in most of the stories, Watson's first name is John, but in one story, his wife inexplicably calls him "James". Watson's middle initial is "H", which Doyle never expanded on; there is a popular fan speculation that it stands for "Hamish", which is the Scottish variation of "James", and that this is a private term of endearment used by his wife.
Fake snow used during filming killed some grass at Oxford; Steven Spielberg reimbursed the University for the cost of its replacement.
Actor Alan Cox, who played John Watson, went through a growth spurt during filming. In the later scenes of the film, he is seen shot more frequently in a slight distance or seated, and actors around him were standing on risers.
Steven Spielberg studied the effects sequences on this film, as well as both The Abyss (1989) and Terminator 2 (1991), to prepare for making Jurassic Park (1993).
The opening credit sequence (a shadow moving across the ground) is a homage to the opening credit sequence of the classic Basil Rathbone / Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes / Doctor Watson film series.
Nigel Stock, who plays Waxflatter, had previously played the role of Doctor Watson in Sherlock Holmes (1964).
The dog in the film, Uncus, is named after a portion of the brain associated with seizures. Seizures that develop from the uncus are often preceded by hallucinations which are a major cause of death in this film.
Scriptwriter Chris Columbus was very deeply concerned whether the movie would upset Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle purists.
The movie was retitled after its American release in some territories and on home video as "Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear" so as to give it a more adventurous Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) type-title as with the then recent Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) - all Steven Spielberg productions.
About two years after this film debuted, a video-game was developed for the MSX platform, and was released in 1987 with the similarly titled name of "Young Sherlock: The Legacy of Doyle". The video game was made exclusively for the market in Japan hence its alternate Japanese title of "Young Sherlock: Doyle no Isan".
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This movie's screenwriter Chris Columbus has said of this film in an interview with 'The New York Times': "The thing that was most important to me was why Holmes became so cold and calculating, and why he was alone for the rest of his life . . . That's why he is so emotional in the film; as a youngster, he was ruled by emotion, he fell in love with the love of his life, and as a result of what happens in this film, he becomes the person he was later".
The movie's closing credits declare that the film was "suggested by the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Use of some the characters with the kind permission of Dame Jean Conan Doyle'".
One of the rare Holmes stories where the character is saved by Lestrade.
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After having a great working relationship with Steven Spielberg on Gremlins (1984), Spielberg produced the next two films Chris Columbus scripted, The Goonies (1985), based on an idea Spielberg had, and this film, which was Columbus's idea, which altogether was two years working on three films.
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Final cinema movie appearances of actors Nigel Stock, Lockwood West, Brian Oulton, and Willoughby Goddard.
The film's opening prologue states: "The following story is original and not specifically based on the exploits of Sherlock Holmes as described in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle".
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The movie's closing epilogues states: "Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not write about the very youthful years of Sherlock Holmes and did establish the initial meeting between Holmes and Dr. Watson as adults, this affectionate speculation about what might have happened has been made with respectful admiration and in tribute to the author and his endearing works". In the Conan Doyle canon, Holmes and Watson's first meeting took place in the debut novel "A Study in Scarlet", which was never adapted to the big screen.
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A magnifying glass is often associated with Sherlock Holmes along with the smoking pipe and deerstalker hat. Some promotional materials for this film such as movie posters formed out of the letter "O" in the word "Holmes" an image of a circular magnifying glass together with a handle.
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The picture contained a number of Dickensian type character names in the tradition of Charles Dickens. These included such Dickensian style names like Mrs. Dribb, Rupert T. Waxflatter, Master Snelgrove, Chester Cragwitch, and Bentley Bobster and the Reverend Duncan Nesbitt. The movie also features a Curio Shop - "The Old Curiosity Shop" (1841) was the name of a novel written by Dickens.
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The older Dr. Watson is played in voice-over narration by Michael Hordern, who had also played Gandalf in the BBC Radio production of The Lord of the Rings. Nicholas Rowe played Holmes once again, briefly, in Mr. Holmes (2015), in which the older Sherlock is played by Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in Peter Jackson's films.
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The name of the English educational institution that Holmes and Watson attend was Brompton Academy in London. According to Alan Arnold's novelization, the school is located in South Kensington and the two are both aged sixteen years.
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The film takes place from December 12 to December 25, 1870.
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Trevor Howard was interviewed for a major role.
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Magician and illusionist David Copperfield utilized music score from this movie for a number of segments for his The Magic of David Copperfield XIII: Mystery on the Orient Express (1991) special television event.
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Debut cinema movie as a full producer of actor Henry Winkler.
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The Egyptian cult recalls the Well of Souls in Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the Thuggee cult in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
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Brian Oulton replaced Maurice Denham in the role of Master Snelgrove.
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This was the first Steven Spielberg production to take a famous character and make a new version based on an imaginative youthful invention or re-imagination of the back-story of said character. The second was The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992).
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First of only three Amblin Entertainment productions where the production house's logo is played to music composed by John Williams with the others being The Money Pit (1986) and The Color Purple (1985).
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At around the one hour fifteen minute mark, the famous aphoristic Sherlock Holmes phrase, which is printed inside a framed picture, is stated: "A great detective relies on perception, intelligence and imagination".
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The name of the Egyptian God of the ancient cult of Osiris worshippers in Egypt was "Rame Tep".
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Holmes, Watson and Elizabeth watching the ritual from a hiding place is like Indy, Willy and Short Round watching the ritual of the Thuggee cult while in hiding in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), except they got caught while Holmes announces their presence to rescue a victim.
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Steven Spielberg directed Christopher Lee in 1941 (1979), Benedict Cumberbatch in War Horse (2011), Jude Law and Ben Kingsley in A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Andrew Scott in Saving Private Ryan (1998), Jared Harris in Lincoln (2012), and Anthony Higgins Paul Freeman and John Rhys-Davies in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Lee and Cumberbatch have both played Sherlock Holmes; Law, Kingsley and Rhys-Davies have all played Doctor Watson; while Higgins, Freeman, Scott and Harris have all played Professor Moriarty.
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Holmes's brother Mycroft is mentioned in the novelization as the person he'll be staying with after he's been expelled.
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The novelization foreshadows Chris Columbus's association with the Harry Potter series; Watson resembles Harry Potter; school experiments; Dudley's rivalry with Holmes is like Harry's with Draco Malfoy's; Dudley and Malfoy both come from rich parents; cavernous libraries; sweets; train stations; the book uses the word potty/Potter; students being injured and needing to see the school nurse; teachers and students eating in the Great Hall; Holmes and Watson solving mysteries at school while Harry, Ron and Hermione do the same at Hogwarts; staircases; Holmes and Watson/Harry creeping through a school library at night; both Watson and Hagrid say "sorry about that"; the end of school term; the threat of expulsion; no family for Harry to return to, even at Christmas, etc.
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The Book of the Dead may derive from Egyptian scriptures on immortality.
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Cragwitch Manor was built in the 18th Century.
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Barry Levinson has worked with two other "Watsons": Robert Duvall in The Natural (1984) and Ben Kingsley in Bugsy (1991).
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Barry Levinson previously directed The Natural (1984) with Robert Duvall. Duvall had previously played Dr. Watson in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976).
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Holmes reads Hunter's Encyclopedia of Disease, a reference work not available to the general public but it is in the libraries of medical schools and practicing physicians.
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The effects of the drug make their victims complacent before the hallucinations set in. Elizabeth hallucinates her uncle burying her alive; Watson imagines the foods he's eaten trying to eat him. Holmes's stem from his unhappy childhood; in his childhood home, his parents are quarreling and his father accuses him of starting it and destroying his life, so he vows to destroy his and lunges at Holmes with a knife.
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Some of the people Watson sees in the tavern belong to tribes he would encounter later in life.
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Rathe's name may be an in-joke to actor Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes.
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Original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle acted as a guide to write the screenplay for screenwriter Chris Columbus.
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When Holmes is trying to think, he liked to be doing something, like playing the violin or tapping away at something; to Watson, it could be very annoying, but to Elizabeth, it was soporific.
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The novelization uses the word "Johnsonian", which refers to English writer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).
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The poison dart and alcohol in Cragwitch's system made him very aggressive in the novelization.
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The novelization mentions the second Sherlock Holmes story, The Sign of Four.
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Watson believes Holmes obsesses over a case even at Christmas because unlike other boys his age, he has no family to return to, like Harry Potter or Kevin McCallister in Home Alone (1990) and scriptwriter Chris Columbus has ties to both franchises.
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Mayfair's Office is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair, from 1686 to 1764 that took place on what is now known as Shepherd Market in London.
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Watson doesn't consider himself a talented writer; he attributes his success as an author to the public fascination with Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes refers to Watson as his biographer or zealous historian. Watson sees himself as a dedicated amateur while Holmes is a surprisingly gifted amateur. Holmes didn't like Watson embellishing Holmes's solving mysteries as a series of tales. Watson later wrote up the film's events as an adult in Kensington.
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Invisible ink appears in this film and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), both produced by Steven Spielberg; also, both films have a scene where the lead character or characters go to a club/tavern and someone behind a grille/slot reluctantly admits them and than violently ejects them; the exotic clientele also recalls Spielberg's Indiana Jones films. Also, both Holmes and Eddie Valiant say almost the same line, "I'm/we're on the verge of wrapping up/cracking this case".
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Watson believed Holmes and Elizabeth's love for each other grew out of their unhappy childhoods and they both shared an independent spirit.
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Anthony Higgins had recently previously appeared in another Steven Spielberg production that being Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and had also recently starred in another period costumer picture, the acclaimed Peter Greenaway film The Draughtsman's Contract (1982).
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The novelization mentions A Scandal in Bohemia, the first Sherlock Holmes story.
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Rathe was Holmes's hero and the teacher he respected most along with Waxflatter for his physical and mental coordination in the novelization.
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The book says Rathe was a superman to Holmes; this may be an in-joke to Richard Donner who directed The Goonies (1985) for producer Steven Spielberg and the first two Superman movies; there is a scene in The Goonies (1985) where Sloth reveals a shirt with Superman's S on it.
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Watson bought Holmes's famous pipe from a shop in the Strand; after Holmes became famous, American tourists would stop into the shop asking for a Sherlock Holmes pipe in the novelization.
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Holmes mentions snakes, spiders, bats and rats; these have appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Arachnophobia (1990), The Goonies (1985), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990); all films either produced or directed by Spielberg.
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The city of the dead and the Egyptian God Ra were both mentioned in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
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When Alan Arnold consulted five different books before writing the film's novelization, he said "they guided him through Cairo's antiquity and across its desert sands".
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Alan Cox's father, Brian Cox, appeared in 'The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle (2005)' as Dr. Joseph Bell, the inspiration for Holmes.
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The film has mild swearing like the other Steven Spielberg produced Chris Columbus written film of that year, The Goonies (1985); both films also have pipe organs.
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The school motto is "honesty, probity and diligence".
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Holmes keeps much gadgetry on his person, much like James Bond; Steven Spielberg is a big Bond fan. Indeed, the same year, one of the characters in The Goonies (1985) idolizes James Bond and also has a lot of inventions. The book says a view to kill, and the Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) was made the same year.
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In the novelization, Watson didn't chronicle this adventure until later as an adult.
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The professor's flying machine is called an ornithopter; Waxflatter left designs for a tandem-winged steam-powered ornithopter, and one was built 5yrs after his death at the Crystal Palace exhibition from his research in the novelization.
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According to the novelization, Bentley Bobster had just turned 70 when he committed suicide.
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The novelization has mild swearing and alcohol consumption even though it's based on a family film.
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Holmes being called Mr Holmes foreshadows Nicholas Rowe's cameo in the film Mr. Holmes (2015), about a retired Sherlock Holmes.
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The hotel built on a sacred burial ground recalls The Shining (1980) and Poltergeist (1982), but in the latter film it was done in secret, but in Holmes the village tried to put a stop to it; it also mentions the spirits will take revenge against those who defile holy ground, again like Poltergeist (1982) and The Shining (1980).
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Holmes and Waxflatter were the two most cherished people in Elizabeth's life. Elizabeth's parents were Simon and Sophie Lord; they did a production of Romeo and Juliet, and while touring America they died, leaving Elizabeth an orphan. They were publicly adored but were incompatible and only stayed together for Elizabeth; they even took her with them on tour. Before they opened in Philadelphia, they went to the theatre to rehearse the balcony scene. An assistant stage manager came in and lit a candle that he didn't blow out after leaving; it was knocked over, probably by the theatre cat. It set the theatre on fire and since most of the doors were locked, Elizabeth's parents died. Waxflatter arrived 10 days later and found the 11yr old Elizabeth fretting for her parents at the theatrical lodging house; the company hadn't told Elizabeth the news, so Waxflatter said he was taking her home, and only then did she realize.
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Holmes' obsession with a case meant he had no sympathy for others, to Watson's annoyance.
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The novelization is written with British spellings, like colour, even though the film is an American production, despite an all British cast.
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Watson thought Elizabeth was wise beyond her years in the novelization, and admitted to having a crush on her.
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In the book, Waxflatter hallucinated gremlins sabotaging the ornithopter; this is an obvious in-joke to Gremlins (1984) made the year before, and Steven Spielberg produced all the films in the Gremlins franchise, and Chris Columbus scripted the first film as well.
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Watson didn't understand Waxflatter's inventions and had a fear of heights; Peter Banning had that as well in Spielberg's Hook (1991), and Peter calls Rufio, the head of the Lost Boys a very ill-mannered young man, something Watson thinks of Holmes sometimes in the novelization.
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Alan Arnold consulted these book before writing the film's novelization: A Thousand Miles Up the Nile; Arabian Sands; A Search in Secret Egypt; Napoleon to Nasser; The Penguin Guide to Ancient Egypt; Flight Through the Ages; Grand Hotel - The Golden Age of Palace Hotels, etc.
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The novelization mentions lovemaking, which is unusual in a book based on a family film.
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Watson feared his association with Holmes could lead to expulsion.
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The book's mention of the Ten Commandments and the one and only God recalls the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981); the novelization also mentions the word nazil, almost like Nazi, the villains of that film.
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Elizabeth doesn't believe in ghosts in the novelization.
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Rathe wears the mask of Osiris at the ceremony; it was the most emotional Watson had ever seen Holmes in the novelization.
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Moriarty doesn't appear at the end of the novelization like in the film.
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When Alan Arnold wrote the novelization for the film, he said in his acknowledgments: "although there have been many so-called Sherlock Holmes "pastiches", no-one can make the attempt without devoting study to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. In doing so one gains a respect for them and their creator which is quite profound. I cannot adequately describe their ability to suspend one's disbelief; it is a form of magic. They are myths which linger in the consciousness. They are for handing on to new generations who inevitably become, in turn, devotees. If this narrative is held to have integrity, it will encourage the process. That thought was in the minds of the men who made the film. Along with the actors, they all respected the creator of Sherlock Holmes. I drew on other sources. Although in my youth I lived in Cairo, I was not then sufficiently mature to appreciate its wonders or to learn much about its incomparable history. My feeling throughout has been one of the deepest respect for the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the creator as much as for his creations. I share with the purists an admiration for Holmes's qualities. One that is sometimes overlooked is that he was a Victorian and Edwardian gentleman. "We live in a utilitarian age", he once told Watson. "Chivalry is a Mediaeval conception". But, then, he was as much the great detective as he was the Mediaeval knight. That is how I think of him".
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The novelization mentions being attacked by something with razor-sharp claws and vicious teeth; this could be a reference to Gremlins (1984), made the previous year, also for Steven Spielberg.
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Both Holmes and Tuck Pendleton in Innerspace (1987), another Steven Spielberg say "we're in this together".
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The diary alludes to shooting a man instead of a bird, like in Moonraker (1979), like when Bond shoots a sniper while out hunting with the villain; Steven Spielberg is a huge fan of the James Bond series.
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In the novelization, Waxflatter never wanted money for his inventions; just to fly.
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Skeletons and ancient desecrated burial grounds crop up in other Spielberg productions like Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Poltergeist (1982).
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Waxflatter's inventions include a clockwork egg slicer he never got to patent; a spring-loaded device that turned the pages of a book with a timer that recorded the reader's pace and a gas-fueled bedside coffeemaker; they recall Rand Peltzer's in Gremlins (1984), also produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Chris Columbus.
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In the novelization, Watson thought Rupert T Waxflatter was the oddest looking fellow he had ever seen. Like Da Vinci, Waxflatter's inventions are based on half-realized ideas. Waxflatter's journals mention grave robbing; Indy was accused of that in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), another Steven Spielberg production. Waxflatter's interest in aviation stemmed from the winged Pharaohs of Egypt.
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Watson's first day of school feels like a lifetime with all the people he meets and wants a good night's sleep. Watson was expected to spend 2yrs at Brompton.
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This film, Gremlins (1984) and the Back to the Future trilogy were all produced by Steven Spielberg and all have eccentric inventors and madcap inventions with pet dogs, Einstein, Barney and Uncas, named after a famous leader of an Indian tribe, which was dramatized in The Last of the Mohicans (1992).
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The school gym dated back to the 15th Century. Henry VIII feasted there in the 17th Century as the guest of an influential Duke and than in the 18th Century Queen Elizabeth had a rendezvous with the handsome Earl of Essex.
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Watson sometimes wonders if Holmes is losing his mind, but admitted his confidence was infectious and his enthusiasm was hard to resist.
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Watson's reflections about life on other planets is a nod to other Spielberg films with alien life, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
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In the novelization, Watson felt the end of Rame Tep came at too high a price: Elizabeth's life.
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Watson makes it a rule to ask Holmes how he solved a crime when he chronicles his adventures in the novelization.
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When Watson writes up this adventure with Holmes, it's been some time since they last saw one another. Watson nearly paid a visit to Baker Street but didn't but wondered if Holmes had changed at all in time gone by in the novelization.
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Watson has a possessive wife who likes him to be at home but Holmes never married in the novelization.
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In the narration, Watson says he has only seen Holmes show grief twice; once was at the death of Waxflatter and Elizabeth's death. Holmes never shows grief in any of the novels or short stories which are set after this film when Holmes is an adult, rendering Watson's statement correct.
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On the front cover for the novelization, the O in Holmes is a magnifying glass; on some Nintendo DS games about Sherlock Holmes, it does the same thing with the title.
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Waxflatter's inventions may reflect Chris Columbus's love of James Bond style gadgetry, which crop up in other films either written or directed by him, like Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985), or the first two Home Alone films. Producer Steven Spielberg is also a James Bond fan and in the film's novelization it uses the words "a view to kill", made the same year as the Bond film A View to a Kill (1985).
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Sherlock Holmes and Eddie Valiant from Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) are detectives who both use magnifying glasses, and both are Steven Spielberg productions.
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More Harry Potter connections; head boys.
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Cameo 

Michael Hordern: As the voice of the older Dr. John Watson.
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Director Trademark 

Barry Levinson: [Tabakin] Ralph Tabakin (Policeman in Shop Window) appeared in every Levinson picture from Diner (1982) through Liberty Heights (1999).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

When the villain Professor Rathe checks into the inn at the end of the credits, he signs the register "Moriarty" which is the name of Sherlock Holmes' most terrifying nemesis in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.
The copy of "Reynolds's Newspaper" detailing Bobster's suicide (the opening scene of the film) is dated Sunday December 12, 1870; Elizabeth's funeral is held on December 23 and the film closes two days later on Christmas Day, December 25, 1870 (as per Watson's "Evening News" profiling Lestrade's promotion to Inspector).
There is a brief scene after the closing credits that introduces Holmes' famous rival Professor Moriarty setting up the movie for a sequel that never actually eventuated.
Actor Anthony Higgins actually had three character names: Professor Rathe, Eh-Tar and Professor Moriarty.
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at around 40 mins) The phrase that Rupert T. Waxflatter (Nigel Stock) whispers to Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) when he dies was "Eh-tar".
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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