Is the Classic Mystery Making a Comeback?

If you're a mystery fan, there's no shortage of entertainment in this world; how many Law and Order spin-offs and Sue Grafton novels can you handle? On the other hand, most new films and TV shows that can be described as "mysteries" are police procedurals. Which means fans of the old-fashioned mystery -- Agatha Christie-style plot twists, Victorian detectives searching upper-crust homes for poisoned teacups -- are stuck watching PBS re-runs.

Pretty soon, however, the classic murder mystery will be returning to theaters. Two upcoming films pay tribute to the Victorian whodunit -- and if these are successful, expect to see many more suspicious butlers and scheming heiresses at your local cineplex.

The first you've no doubt heard about -- Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock and Jude Law as Watson. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film invents a new Holmes story, making the detective a more dynamic crimefighter -- one who can use his fists as well as his wits. Although the movie looks radically different from any previous Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Ritchie says the story is faithful to Arthur Conan Doyle's character: "We're trying to be as authentic as we can to the original Sherlock Holmes." The movie comes out this Christmas.

Another Victorian mystery is in the works from director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin), based on the real-life character of Edgar Allen Poe. In The Raven, Poe will have to solve a series of serial-killer murders based on his own gruesome short stories. The story is fictional, but Poe is a perfect detective character: The author not only invented the detective-fiction genre, he famously investigated murders as a hobby, and even died under mysterious circumstances. (If he wasn't real, Poe would have had to invent himself.) McTeigue is still casting the movie, but it will probably have a less glamorous cast than Sherlock Holmes: "Clooney and Pitt, they're good actors, but in my vision of it, they're not the people I'm thinking of."

This new interest in Victorian thrillers may be part of the steampunk trend, or an extension of our current goth-vampire fascination -- or it may just be that people love mysteries where the men wear hats and smoke pipes. Either way, count us in.

Plus: Check out this list of Hollywood's unsexiest men!

What's you favorite movie genre? Chime in below!

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