“The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection” (MPI)
Basil Rathbone, with his hawk-like aqualine features and piercing eyes, and Nigel Bruce are, to many, the quintessential big screen Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.
This 5-disc collection offers the Blu-ray debut of all of their 14 films in one efficient package. The first two films, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), the most famous of Arthur Conan Doyle’s mysteries, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939), are period pieces set in Victorian England, just as in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. The relationship between Bruce’s somewhat slow Watson and Rathbone’s sharp, at time playful and always devoted colleague Holmes creates the dynamic that sustains the stories.
They debut as Holmes and Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), the most famous of Arthur Conan Doyle’s mysteries, and though top billing is accorded the blandly handsome Richard Greene, who plays the young Baskerville heir, it’s the chemistry between their Holmes and Watson that makes the film as they look into the supernatural “curse” that has claimed all the previous Baskerville Lords. The moors of the film may merely be elaborate sets festooned with stone monoliths and craggy hills, but the swirls of fog do wonders for the mood and the rustic manor makes for a gothic setting. Horror stalwart Lionel Atwill adds character as a seemingly dedicated doctor and John Carradine is marvelously suspicious as a straight-backed butler whose nocturnal activities raise their own suspicions. An assured debut marred only by an unsatisfying epilogue; the conclusion seems artificially truncated.