Sherlock Holmes

We’re not going to pick one film today, rather a whole series, the whole Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

These started in 1939 with “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” and finished in 1946 with “Dressed To Kill”, a total of 14 films in a very short time. The first were for 20th Century-Fox, then they moved to Universal. The first ones are generally better.

As you would probably expect, both actors got deeply associated with these roles and probably hated it by the end, but both continued into radio series, though Rathbone dropped out first.

They seem to jump around a bit in time period, some set during World War II and others in a more appropriate time for the stories. And as the series progressed, Watson moved from being an intelligent assistant to a buffoon, definitely not in line with the stories.

The regular supporting cast was very strong too, including Dennis Hoey as Lestrade, Lionel Atwill and Mary Gordon as Mrs Hudson.

“The Hound Of The Baskervilles” is a good starter, “Terror By Night” is good and “The Pearl Of Death”. Titles do seem to vary in different countries.

The films used to be shown regularly but now seem to be restricted to cable tv, in the UK at least, but the whole set, nicely restored, is available for a small sum (£17, as I write this) on dvd.

Two of my favourite trivia questions relate to these films.

Basil Rathbone played the English detective Holmes, but where was he born?

Nigel Bruce (hint in the name?) played Watson who was either Scottish or had Scottish connections. But where was he born?

Answers tomorrow…

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