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Mainly produced and directed by Roy William Neill, the series originated in England where the first 2 films were made. Each used “period’” costume and setting, although only the first was based on a Conan Doyle story. Then production was transferred to Hollywood where mainly British cast members were still used, but the settings were now contemporary and sometimes the films were unashamedly war propaganda.
With a presence, appearance and inimitable diction, Basil Rathbone is unsurpassed as an exponent of Sherlock Holmes in film. His wish to be relieved of the role and the death of regular producer and director Roy William Neill terminated the series. Nigel Bruce, as Doctor Watson, replicates the bluff, doddery English buffoon that he played so well in numerous films of those years. It’s nothing like Conan Doyle’s original, but wonderfully endearing.
These were never more than B Grade film productions in their day, most lasting little more than one hour. Somehow, their appeal remains strong. If the opportunity arises, and visitors and relatives of all ages survey my shelves, one or other of these films is often chosen in preference to something of more substance. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is the most often chosen, but my favorite is “Pursuit to Algiers”.
Yes, I think Jeremy Brett is the best onscreen Holmes, but I grew up watching Basil Rathbone and these films are still wonderful, atmospheric movies that capture the spirit of Holmes the master detective.
The box set makes a great addition to any DVD collection.
Picture it; an open fire in midwinter, a glass of something in your hand and one of these movies flickering away on the TV. Bliss.
I also recommend the Sherlock Holmes radio shows that Rathbone and Bruce made in the 30s and 40s, they're great too - and the whopping great 23 DVD set of the Granada TV/Brett series (another excellent buy from Amazon).
I love being transported back and losing sight of the 21st century for an hour or two, and this DVD box set does that wonderfully.
The DVD transfer is excellent. The films look better than I have ever seen them.
Come on, get your credit card out... the game's afoot!
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