In my opinion, Peter Cushing's interpretation of Sherlock Holmes has never really been given the recognition it deserves; in the minds of many observers, his maintains a firm third place in the rankings of the best portrayals of the Great Detective, behind the definitive Jeremy Brett and the classic Basil Rathbone versions. This is because, though typically excellent, his take on the Great Detective was never provided with a totally successful starring vehicle; Hammer's 1959 film version of The Hound of the Baskervilles was an undeserving flop, his late-1960s BBC TV series was fraught with production problems, and his 1984 swansong in the role, the TV movie The Masks of Death, has been all but forgotten. A enthusiastic Holmes expert and avid collector of the Strand Magazine originals, Cushing's several appearances as Holmes were filled with tiny details lifted straight from the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and best of all, his Holmes (just like Brett's) was totally original and borrowed nothing at all from any of the previous screen interpretations. Here, in a previously unreleased collection of recordings from the early 1970s, Cushing reads the stories The Empty House, The Norwood Builder, The Dancing Men, and The Solitary Cyclist from Conan Doyle's The Return of Sherlock Holmes. The material, of course, speaks for itself, but the real joy here is in listening to a `new' vocal performance from this most talented of actors, who fully understood every facet of both the central character and the stories themselves. Truly a rediscovered treat for every Cushing fan (and every Holmes expert), you won't want to miss this.
This unabridged reading of The Return of Sherlock Holmes was made in 1971 - but very few of us will have heard it. The recording was made for the Royal National Institute for the Blind and for forty years was available only to registered blind and partially sighted people in the UK. In February 2011, however, Cosmic Hobo released Volume One on CD, the first of three, with liner notes by David Stuart Davies, at £19.99. The audio format enabled Peter Cushing (as it did that other wonderful Holmes, Douglas Wilmer) to display a remarkable range of voices and accents, which he rarely had the chance to use on film or television. It's been said that you really need an actor who's played Dr Watson to narrate the stories - but however he may be identified in our minds with the Detective, Peter Cushing, in sound alone, is an entirely credible Doctor. And then there are the other characters, major and minor, all depicted as believable individual human beings... Cushing does full justice to the atmosphere, the excitement, the humour and the ingenuity of these tales. What a bonus for us that the recordings should at last become available to the general public!