"Bond, James Bond", WRONG! "---"Watson, John H. Watson, M.D.", CORRECT! The question here, is which Ian Fleming is Ian Fleming? The answer is BOTH!
For those of my readers into "Bondage", that Ian Fleming's mini-biography is part of my article, "Ian Fleming's 'James Bond': 'Casino Royale' Times Three", found at:
This article is about "The Other Ian Fleming", born Ian Macfarlane, on September 10, 1888, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
However, finding any information on his life is next to impossible and many on-line sites repeat the exact same information word for word. So, I am afraid, do the reference material on Australian/British actors that I could locate and read.
Looking under Fleming's birth name of "Ian Macfarlane", I found Australian Politician John Robert Macfarlan, born in 1881, who was also known as Ian Macfarlane. I found an Australian economist, Ian John McFarlane, born in 1946, and I found an Australian journalist born in 1959, named Ian Macfarlane, who wrote "The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop".
What I could not locate was anything more about the life of the subject of this article, or anything to tie the above Macfarlane's to each other, with the exception that they were all born in Australia.
Where Ian Macfarlane went to school, or started acting is unknown to me. I do know he did start legitimate stage acting in 1904 Australia, but could not locate any other information on the plays he performed in until 1929's, "The Berg", by British playwright Ernest Raymond. That play was about the sinking of HMS Titantic, and premiered, with "Ian Fleming" and not "Ian Mcfarlane", at the "Q Theatre", in London, on March 12, 1929 and ran for 29 performances until April 6, 1929. The play became a motion picture, but Ian Fleming was not part of that film's cast.
By 1929, Ian Fleming had appeared in his first two-motion pictures and would appear in his third later in the year. His first motion picture was the silent feature "Second to None", released in the United Kingdom on August 22, 1927, and made by "Gaumont British".
The plot is about a First World War British Naval family, the father is a commander, played by Fleming, and the strain both the commander and his wife feel after their adopted son deserts the Navy in search of his sweetheart. Who it turns out has married a German spy, and is attempting to find her. I could not locate any stills from the feature film.
Fleming's second feature was a 1928 silent, and the second filmed version of the 1915 court room drama, "The Ware Case", by playwright George Pleydell Bancroft. In the 1950's, the play was produced, with different casts, on both British and American television anthology series.
Before I go further, one of those repeated biographical lines, I mentioned, reads that Ian Fleming was:
an Australian character actor with credits in over 100 British films.
The website "IMDb", and some others, lists 212 roles for the actor and that amount certainly exceeds 100 films, but reflects the problem I faced about finding any real biographical information about the actor Ian Fleming.
Although I am not going to look at all 212 roles Ian Fleming portrayed, I move two motion pictures forward to, "School for Scandal", released on September 5, 1930, in London, more for its historical backstory and who played some of the roles not just in this motion picture.
The actual play was written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and was first performed at the Drury Lane Theatre, on May 8, 1777. Like many British plays, "School for Scandal", is described as a "comedy of manners". According to the website, "Britannica":
The play's story is described as:
Charles Surface is an extravagant but good-hearted young man. His brother Joseph, supposedly more respectable and worthy, is shown to be a conniving schemer who courts Lady Teazle, the young wife of a wealthy old nobleman. Sir Oliver Surface, their uncle, disguises himself to discover which of his nephews shall be his heir. Joseph is exposed as a hypocrite, and Charles triumphs, winning both fortune and true love.
This was the first sound film version of the play, in 1923, there were two filmed versions, one featured Basil Rathbone in the role portrayed by Ian Fleming, and the other Russell Thorndike. Who would leave acting to become the author of the "Dr. Syn: the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" series of adventures.
In the 1930 motion picture, the leading lady's role, "Lady Teazle", was portrayed by Madeline Carroll, director Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 "The 39 Steps" and 1936's "Secret Agent". The first television production of the play aired on the BBC, May 19, 1937, starring Greer Garson as "Lady Teazle".
DR. JOHN H. WATSON, M.D.
Sir Arthur Conan, described "John H. Watson" in the four novels and fifty-six short stories, as having received his medical degree, in 1878, at "Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry". That schooling was followed by "Watson" being trained as a military assistant surgeon at the "Royal Victoria Military Hospital" aka: "Netley Hospital". Upon concluding his medical training, "Dr. John H. Watson" joined the British army in India, served in the second Anglo-Afghan War, and was wounded by a bullet to his shoulder during the "Battle of Marwan" in July 1880. After recovering from his injury and a bout of dysentery, the discharged doctor returned to England,
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air — or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained. There I stayed for some time at a private hotel in the Strand, leading a comfortless, meaningless existence, and spending such money as I had, considerably more freely than I ought.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works, as published in "The Strand Magazine", were set in the England he lived in, under Her Majesty Queen Victoria and later His Majesty King Edward VII.
However, like the 12-1940's "Sherlock Holmes" motion pictures starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce made by "Universal Pictures". The Arthur Wonter and Ian Fleming pictures may have contained characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , but his original story lines were changed and moved to the same modern year as the motion picture. Thereby, also changing the characters themselves, unlike the two "20th Century Fox" films in 1939, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", starring Rathbone and Bruce.
I write the above to give my reader a small amount of background on the features I will be describing.
adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, THE FINAL PROBLEM and EMPTY HOUSE.
The basic story for the "The Final Problem", set in 1891, introduced "Professor James Moriarty", the arch enemy of "Sherlock Holmes", and "The Napoleon of Crime". The story ends with both "Holmes" and "Moriarty" falling over Switzerland's, Reichenbach Falls to their deaths. Below, Sidney Paget's original "Strand Magazine" drawing:
The two "Sherlock Holmes" short stories were adapted into a screenplay treatment by Cyril Twyford. He only adapted a combination of seven plays and short stories for the screen. They included the previously mentioned "The House of the Arrow", and other works, I will mention, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for two more "Sherlock Holmes" films.
The actual screenplay was co-written by director Leslie S. Hiscott and the uncredited, H. Fowler Mear. Mear had been writing scenarios since 1917, and would adopt authoress Marie Belloc Lowndes' novel, "The Lodger", into the first sound film version, 1932's, "The Lodger" aka: "The Phantom Fiend". That motion picture starred Ivor Novello in the same role he played in director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1927, "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog".
Arthur Wontner first portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Wontner had just been seen in a 28-minute, 1930 short, "The Message", and would follow this feature film with the crime drama, 1931's, "A Gentleman of Paris"
The Basic Screenplay:
After a silent sequence of a man's silhouette within the Bank of England and a possible murder.
As his sister watches the card game, it seems to her, that "Ronnie" is winning too handsomely from "Colonel Henslowe" and the other two players. What she doesn't realize is her brother is a "card shark", but he picked the wrong people to cheat. "Kathleen" also mentions in passing "Dr. Watson", and one of the card players, "Thomas Fisher", asked if she knows "Sherlock Holmes" also, but gets a negative reply.
The motion picture opened in London on February 12, 1932, but is now considered a "Lost Film" and the reason few stills or videos are available.
The motion picture was once again directed by Leslie S. Hiscott, whose latest motion picture had been based upon a Agatha Christie mystery play, "Black Coffee", and released in 1931. Hiscott followed this motion picture with 1932's, "Murder at Covent Garden".
About the screenplay:
The credits indicate the screenplay was based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, short story, "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". That places the original story in 1899, and is about the "King of the Blackmailers". "Milverton" demands 7,000 English pounds for letters he has that would destroy "Lady Eva's" marriage. "Holmes" agrees to get the letters by any means, because "Milverton" has put himself outside the law. The letters will be returned to "Lady Eva" and another victim will murder "Milverton".
Below, Sidney Paget's drawing of "Charles Augustus Milverton" in a 1904 issue of "The Strand Magazine".
Cyril Twyford was the other co-writer of this screenplay, between the two "Sherlock Holmes" entry, Twyford wrote Leslie S. Hiscott's 1931, "Brown Sugar".
There were five familiar names in the picture's cast, but no characters named either, "Lady Eva", or "Charles Augustus Milverton".
Arthur Wontner portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Wontner had been in the previously mentioned, 1932, "Condemned to Death", he would follow this motion picture with the only "Sherlock Holmes" film of his series that did not have Ian Fleming, but Ian Hunter portraying "Dr. Watson".
Ian Fleming portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.". Ian Fleming followed this picture with an uncredited role in the comedy musical, 1932's, "Lucky Girl", starring British comedian Gene Gerrand,
Jane Welsh portrayed "Lady Violet Lamsden". Like Arthur Wontner, Jane Welsh was in the cast of 1932's, "Condemned to Death", prior to this picture, and would follow it with the 1932 mystery, "The Chinese Puzzle".
Sherlock Holmes goes on the trail of a Rembrandt painting, stolen by a drug-addicted artist.
I believe the "drug-addicted artist" is the character of "Claude Holford". My non-United Kingdom readers, must remember that London suffered under the German Blitz during the Second World War and many motion pictures were lost, but titles and cast listings may have survived. While stills from these films may also have been lost.
THE TRIUMPH OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
The motion picture had its premiere in London on January 31, 1935, and had its United States premier in New York City on May 24, 1935.
About the screenplay:
The screenplay was supposed to be based upon the fourth and final novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Valley of Fear", first published in "The Strand Magazine", between September 1914 and May 1915.
The story tells of "Sherlock Holmes" receiving two encrypted messages from an associate of "Professor Moriarty" about a plot against a country gentleman named "Douglas". They're followed by the arrival of "Scotland Yard Inspector MacDonald" with the news that "Douglas" was murdered.
Reading the manuscript, "Sherlock Holmes" discovers that "Douglas" is really a Chicago, Illinois, Pinkerton Detective named "Birdy Edwards". Who infiltrated a murderous secret society of coal miners, located in the Vermissa Valley, brought them to justice, but was pursued and he left for England for his perceived safety.
The novel was based upon real life Pinkerton Detective, James McParland.
McParland infiltrated the Irish coal-miner secret society, "The Molly Maguires", operating in Pennsylvania, in the 1870's. A hundred years later, director Martin Ritt's, 1970, "The Molly Maguires", had actor Richard Harris portraying "James McParland".
As previously, the screenplay team remained the same for "Twickenham Studios". H. Fowler Mear had just written the crime drama, 1935's, "The Rocks of Valpre", and would follow this film with the Lupe Velez and Ian Hunter, 1935 comedy, "The Morals of Marcus". While for Cyril Twyford, this was the last motion picture screenplay of the seven he wrote.
Arthur Wontner portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Wontner was just seen in the only "Sherlock Holmes" film in the series without Ian Fleming, 1932's, "The Sign of the Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case". His next feature film had the actor co-starring with Bramwell Fletcher in the drama, "Line Engaged".
Ian Fleming portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson". As I mentioned above, Fleming proceeded this picture with the 1934, mystery, "The Third Clue". He would follow this film with another crime mystery, 1935's, "The Riverside Murder".
From the "New York Times", May 27, 1935
Let it be said that the Criterion died game! It strides out of Times Square (closing Sunday night) with a smile on its facade and Sherlock Holmes on its screen. Its last picture, "The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes," with Arthur Wontner in the title rôle, is a mellow, evenly paced British film that renders to Holmes what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have rendered to him: Interest, respect and affection.
Again we find the sinister Professor Moriarty at large, this time in the service of a secret organization which is seeking revenge upon one of its former members, John Douglas. Holmes is lured out of retirement when the murder of Douglas—by that delicate weapon, the double-barreled, sawed-off shotgun—gives him an excuse to match wits again with Moriarty.
Dr. Watson is around, of course, muddling through the clues, announcing his theories and waiting patiently for the dénouement which will permit him to exclaim, "Marvelous, Holmes!" Finally, Holmes assembles a dumb-bell, a candle, a pair of slippers, an umbrella and a suit of clothes and converts them into a bludgeon which topples Moriarty from his criminal throne. That is Holmes's triumph.
From the Dundee Scotland, "Evening Telegraph", September 28, 1935
From the "Burley Express", Burley and Padiham, England:
After which Ian Fleming portrayed "Henry Norman" in 1935's, "Sexton Blake and the Mademoiselle". The "Sexton Blake" detective series were first written in 1893 aimed at young British boys. The last of the series, as of this writing, was back in 1978. By that year there had been 4,000 written detective stories from, at least, 200 different writers. In the Fleming film, "Sexton Blake" was portrayed by George Cuzon.
Ian Fleming still had a stage career and on February 2, 1935, he appeared at the "Whitehall Theatre", in London, as "Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, KG PC FRS", in the historical play, "Viceroy Sarah", about the relationship of "Lady Sarah Churchill", and "Queen Anne", during the 1701-1715, "War of the Spanish Succession".
In September 1936, Ian Fleming was the "Medical Officer" in the Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Dolores del Rio's crime drama, "Accused".
SILVER BLAZE premiered in London on June 30, 1937
MURDER AT THE BASKERVILLES released January 15, 1941
While "Silver Blaze" opened in the United Kingdom in 1937, the German film company, "Ondra-Lamac-Film", released "Der Hund von Baskerville (The Hound of the Baskervilles)", starring Bruno Guttner as "Holmes", and Fritz Odemar as "Watson".
About the screenplay:
The screenplay is based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1892, short story, "The Adventure of Silver Blaze". That story has "Sherlock Holmes and "Dr. Watson" taking a train to Dartmoor, to investigate the disappearance of a great race horse, "Silver Blaze", and the murder of the horse's trainer, "John Straker". The story will involve "Scotland Yard Inspector Gregory", a bookie named "Fitzroy Simpson", a stable hand named "Ned Hunter", the horse's owner "Colonel Ross", his neighbor "Silas Brown", and the mysterious personage known as "William Derbyshire".
Everyone, but "Holmes", assumes that "Straker", who had a major blow to his skull killing him, was murdered by "Simpson" using his "Penang Lawyer", a clublike walking stick. Add that the shepherd that cares for the sheep on "Colonel Ross's" property said three turned up lame by something, or someone cutting one of their legs.
Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”
In the end, "Silver Blaze" was found wandering off the Colonel's property by his neighbor "Silas Brown", but his blaze was painted over and "Brown" didn't recognize the race horse. William Derbyshire" was actually the trainer "John Straker". Who had a mistress with expensive tastes and he wanted to influence the outcome of the horse race by injuring "Silver Blaze". "Straker" had practiced on the sheep. Oh, his killer? "Silver Blaze", kicked "John Straker" in his head reacting to being cut on his leg.
The actual screenplay was partly written by actor Arthur Macrae, who prior to this picture worked on 1936's, "Hideout in the Alps", and followed this feature with the musical comedy, 1937, "Gaiety Girls". The other writer was the familiar name of H. Fowler Mear, who worked on 1937's, "Vicar of Bray", before this feature and afterwards, 1937's, "Talking Feet".
Note, that there are several characters not from the original story and that both "Professor Moriarty" and "Colonel Sebastian Moran" are added. As to Scotland Yard, "Inspector Gregory", he has been replaced by "Inspector Lestrade" and "Silver Blaze's" trainer "John Straker" is now married.
Arthur Wontner portrayed "Sherlock Holmes" for the last time. He had just been seen on-screen with tenth billing, in the Vivien Leigh, Rex Harrison, 1937, comedy romance, "Storm in a Tea Cup". Wontner followed this motion picture with the 1937 comedy, "Live Wire".
Judy Gunn portrayed "Diana Baskerville". This was the last of twelve on-screen roles starting in 1933.
Arthur Macrae portrayed "Jack Trevor". This was Macrae's third motion picture and it had been proceeded by the 1936 crime drama, "Hideout in the Alps". The actor followed this film with the 1940 comedy, "George and Margaret".
Following other tracks, this leads the detective to the home of "Sir Henry's" neighbor, "Silas Brown", and the discovery of "Silver Blaze", safe, but with his identifying white blaze painted over. Returning with "Silver Blaze", "Sherlock Holmes" speculates that the trainer poisoned the stable boy, took the race horse to the moor to sever his tendons to keep him from racing, but was hit in the head by the horse's hoofs.
A sample of the film's dialogue is the following statement my "Holmes" to "Lestrade":
THE SECOND WORLD WAR
Released in November 1941 was "Ships with Wings", a reference to British aircraft carriers. In this feature Ian Fleming portrayed an uncredited "Colonel". Some scenes were shot on the aircraft carrier "Ark Royal". The "Ark Royal" had been involved in the search for and sinking of the German battleship "Bismarck" on May 27, 1941.
"Mary Rose" was a television version of a 1920 play by J.M. Barrie, "Peter Pan", about the daughter of the "Morland" family who twice disappeared, and is a ghost story. Ian Fleming portrayed her father "Mr. Morland". This made for television production would be followed by seven more into 1949.
Then it was back to another crime drama, 1949's, "A Matter of Murder", with third billing as "Inspector McKelvin". Several more crime drama's both on television and in film followed until an appearance in the 1953 television mini-series, "Robin Hood", starring Patrick Troughton in his pre-"Hammer Films" and "Second Dr. Who", days. Ian Fleming portrayed "Maid Marian's father".
Starting with portraying the role of "Dr. Henley", on the British television soap opera, "The Grove Family" on June 11, 1954 through May 7, 1957, Ian Fleming's career switch to primarily television programing and this would carry the actor into 1968.
On November 16, 1955, Ian Fleming portrayed "Count Latour" in "The Sword of Justice" episodes of the television series, "The Scarlet Pimpernel".
In 1957 Fleming was seen in two episodes of the British/American television anthology series, "The Errol Flynn Theatre". The first was "The Duel", March 29, 1957, and starred Flynn, the second was, "Mademoiselle Fifi", April 26, 1957, and only was hosted by Flynn, but starred Paulette Goddard.
On December 12, 1966, Ian Fleming portrayed the "High Priest", in director Fred Zinemann's, "A Man for All Seasons", starring Paul Scofield, Robert Shaw, and Orson Welles.
On January 1, 1969, in London, England, THIS IAN FLEMING, passed away at the age of 80-years. He will always be overshadowed by THE OTHER IAN FLEMING!