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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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Overview

Alfred Werker's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) has always been regarded as the best of the Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce -- and there are also those who think of it as the best Holmes movie ever made. It's been given an appropriately exalted treatment by MPI Home Video, starting with a sparkling transfer of the beautifully shot film. The disc plays like an array of gorgeous still photographs and is one of the best-looking DVDs of a 1930s title that one can find. The audio quality ...
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Overview

Alfred Werker's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) has always been regarded as the best of the Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce -- and there are also those who think of it as the best Holmes movie ever made. It's been given an appropriately exalted treatment by MPI Home Video, starting with a sparkling transfer of the beautifully shot film. The disc plays like an array of gorgeous still photographs and is one of the best-looking DVDs of a 1930s title that one can find. The audio quality is a match for the picture, the sound set at a high volume level and revealing the richness of the onscreen music, which is essential to the mystery. Every bit as fascinating as the movie is the commentary track by Holmes expert Richard Valley, in which the author/publisher takes us on a delightful (and delight-filled) walk through the movie, touching on plot, casting, characters, underlying literary works, movie backstory -- even the song "I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside" (sung by Rathbone) -- and just about every other aspect of the film that one might care to name. His commentary, which finally explains why 20th Century Fox dropped the series after this film (it had to do with a demand from the Conan Doyle estate), is worth the price of admission by itself. The other supplementary features include a music-accompanied montage of still shots and publicity art from the production (running three minutes) and re-release trailers to The Scarlet Claw, Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman, and Terror by Night -- none looking especially good, but all entertaining. The disc opens automatically to a two-layer menu that keeps the special features confined to a special internal layer of the menu. The only flaw in the disc is that navigating between the film and the menu is a little more complicated than is often the case, first requiring an exit from the chapter selection and then involving a maneuver or two with the controls.
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Special Features

Audio commentary with Richard Valley; Selected theatrical trailers; Production notes by Richard Valley; Photo gallery
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes may owe nothing to Arthur Conan Doyle (or the William Gillette play upon which it is ostensibly based) other than a handful of characters, but that's enough. While some of the plotting and dialogue is not strictly according to Doyle -- Moriarty would never reveal his secrets to his butler in such a blatantly expository manner;Holmes would never be as dismissive of the threat posed by Moriarty nor as easily fooled by the double blind that the villain uses to distract him; the boyfriend's motives would be better explained -- things are kept close enough to the spirit of the book (and characters) that the violations of the letter don't matter too much. Most importantly, the film has in Basil Rathbone an actor that is imminently suited to the role of the world's greatest sleuths. While others have matched (or even perhaps surpassed) his interpretation, it is still the benchmark by which all other Holmes are measured, and he is in superb form here. Nigel Bruce's Watson has here started to develop a bit more of the obtuseness that would become more pronounced as the series progresses, but the actors play it to good comic effect. George Zucco's Moriarty is appropriately evil, and Ida Lupino plays the damsel in distress role with a winning combination of restraint and resilience. Weighing all the evidence, it's clear that Adventures is an engaging detective thriller.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/27/2004
  • UPC: 030306758190
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mpi Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:22:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 32,712

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes
Nigel Bruce Dr. Watson
Ida Lupino Ann Brandon
Alan Marshal Jerrold Hunter
E.E. Clive Inspector Bristol
Terry Kilburn Billy
George Zucco Prof. Moriarty
Henry Stephenson Sir Ronald Ramsgate
Arthur Hohl Bassick
May Beatty Mrs. Jameson
Peter Willes Lloyd Brandon
Mary Gordon Mrs. Hudson
Holmes Herbert Justice
George Regas Mateo
Mary Forbes Lady Conyngham
Frank Dawson Dawes
William Austin Stranger
Anthony Kemble-Cooper Tony
Technical Credits
Alfred L. Werker Director
Robert Bischoff Editor
Edwin Blum Screenwriter
Richard Day Art Director
William A. Drake Screenwriter
W.D. Flick Sound/Sound Designer
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Gene Markey Associate Producer
Cyril Mockridge Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Hans Peters Art Director
David Raksin Score Composer
Leon Shamroy Cinematographer
Gwen Wakeling Costumes/Costume Designer
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening [1:14]
2. The Genius of Evil [9:16]
3. Consulting Sherlock Holmes [12:19]
4. Renewing an Old Acquaintance [4:11]
5. Murder Most Foul [11:16]
6. Reconstructing the Crime [8:03]
7. A Chant for the Dead [7:08]
8. Masquerade Parties [5:51]
9. Bullfinch's Mythology [5:14]
10. The Killer Strikes! [6:34]
11. The Crime of the Century [9:04]
12. "Elementary, My Dear Holmes." [:49]
13. End Credits [:36]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selection
   Bonus Material
      Audio Commentary With Richard Valley: On
      Audio Commentary With Richard Valley: Off
      Photo Gallery/Original Theatrical Poster
      Selected Theatrical Trailers
   Subtitles: On
   Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

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