UnBooks:The Hooded Anus
“Give me back my horse, Watson! Don't make me stab you again!”
“Perseverance does not equal worthiness. Next time you want to get my attention, wear something fun. Low-riding jeans are hot.”
“What's that awful stench? What is that... oh god, I think I'm going to... it's you! What have you... have you soiled yourself? You have, haven't you? Jesus Christ, Watson, what possible use is that wreck to a criminal investigation?”
The Hooded Anus is both the title of and the criminal mastermind in the third novel-length Sherlock Holmes mystery. Originally conceived by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as a means of ending the franchise, the book is notable for introducing two cultural memes that have persisted into the present day: that of the hooded, bearded malcontent, out for revenge after a lifetime of abuse, and the well-known line uttered by Doctor Watson, "No shit, Sherlock".
In Print[edit | edit source]
The novel follows the usual Holmes pattern of whimsical idleness, during which Holmes' interest in the case arises from reading the papers, followed by an encounter with Mrs deBeaumarchais in Lestrade's office in which she pleads for the Great Detective to find her brother, who is missing. After she promises to bring a package through customs in return for his help, Holmes and Watson set off for the train station, pausing only to buy more papers. Then as usual they have a three-page conversation about how bloody great the trains are, especially since poor people and women aren't allowed on, then Holmes starts seeing shapes in the clouds that remind him of something which in turn allows him to solve the mystery right there and then, although he doesn't tell anyone that because he really wants to catch a sniper in the act - I know, a sniper in Victorian London.
They reach Norwich, take the road into the marshes, scare off the Anus and rummage around in the things he has left behind. Holmes, who already solved the case, is just doing this for kicks.
On returning to London, Holmes buys another dozen or so papers, handing them to Watson on the pretense of having the doctor read them out, but really because he likes see how many things he can get Watson to carry without complaining. They meet with Lestrade at his office, Holmes insults him, wipes himself clean on the curtains, makes a pass at a hatstand and comments on "how late the hour is".
Watson deduces on the way home that The Anus is in fact Jeremy Bevensey, an apparently blameless clock-undertaker with a penchant for wearing hooded cloaks, who had previously told the pair "I am a Red Herring". Holmes calls Watson a name, and then smugly laughs about it inside his head.
Having no luck reaching the answer by the time they reach Baker Street, Watson asks Holmes for the solution, but receives no reply as Holmes is hiding under the couch from "snipers".
Instead he waits for morning, but finds when the clock strikes midnight that Holmes has sneaked out in search of a trick. Watson searches, and is just in time to see Holmes and the Hooded Anus tussling behind the Reichenbach Hotel, and witness their gruesome finish... or does he?
Critical Reaction[edit | edit source]
Many readers had felt it was unfair of Holmes to convivially disabuse Watson at every opportunity, continually remarking "Elementary, my dear Watson", "It could only be so, logically", "Deduce this deuce of a didactic detection", and so forth, therefore in writing The Hooded Anus, Conan Doyle tried to rectify the situation by having Holmes make his opinion of Watson's deductive reasoning skills absolutely clear:
“Oh for fuck's sake, Watson, you're a big girl now, I can't be expected to explain every bastard thing for you. Fuckwit.”
Additionally it was widely assumed that the character of the Anus was in fact a loosely-disguised composite of John Merrick, the so-called "Wild Man" who was frequently hooded, and Oscar Wilde, who was a mastermind. One of the major flaws in this theory is that the Anus has a beard, but this is itself problematic: it may be that Conan Doyle forgot what his Anus looked like, or that he conflated his notes for the structure of the novel with those of the preceding tale, "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of Brandy he took to Bermuda with Professor Moriarty's sister all month; Or, Professor Moriarty goes off to film Star Trek, the trusting fool."
1961 Movie[edit | edit source]
“That has to be the defining image of the Anus. That's exactly what we all think of, when we think of the Anus.”
Walter Matthau starred in the retitled production as Holmes, with Bob Hope as Watson, Mae West as Mrs deBeaumarchais, Dean Martin as himself and an early example of animatronics (voiced by Alan Smithee in a rare speaking role) as The Hooded Anus, in order to fully realise the climactic, film noir-esque final sequence, where the Anus howls defiantly at Holmes behind a skip down an alley, until the sweaty pair collapse out of view, presumed dead or something.
In order to fully utilise the star-power of Matthau, Hope and West, a song was written and performed at the first meeting of the Great Detective and his distressed client. In the song, the Anus was ridiculed for his deformity, depravity and choice of headgear. It was dropped from the finished movie because preview audiences found it confusing to have a big splashy comic song in the middle of a Victorian-era detective story.
Other problems cited with the scene included it being confusing to cut away to the Anus tuning the piano in his lair after being musically accused of being a deaf piano tuner, and for him to then look up and say, "Pardon?", only to cut back to Holmes singing "Words with a K in them are funny," and have Mrs deBeaumarchais shoot Watson in the chest with a pistol, allowing Hope to work his comic death routine in and West and Matthau to finish the number with the words "The Aristocrats!".
Although there were murmurs about a possible strike by the writing staff, the original novel's plot was restored, and the movie continued for the final hour with Watson very much alive.
Critical Reaction[edit | edit source]
Unlike the book, the movie appeared at a more enlightened time, and so there were no problems with everyone being negative about it or people's atomic structures becoming natural reactors. Instead, there were mixed reviews, with some praising the innovation in the script and others condemning it: the puppetry of the Anus was likewise received.
There was widespread public derision of the re-use of Watson's famous line in a sarcastic fashion by the Anus: most audiences reported that it was difficult to make out the words "No shit, Sherlock" in the reedy, high-pitched mosquito-buzz whiny moany bitch voice squeaky-bastard vocal style of the Anus, especially against the background noise of mosquitoes at the dilapidated mosquito farm in the middle of East Anglian mosquito country where he makes his first mosquito-ridden lair.
Sherlock Holmes and the Hooded Anus was the recipient of the 1962 Academy Award in the category Best Use of a Totally Incoherent Script.
Movie Quotes[edit | edit source]
“Stay away from my house.”