Long before Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch ever portrayed Sherlock Holmes on our screens to widespread success, Basil Rathbone donned the deerstalker cap. The best actor to play the great detective onscreen is open to debate, but none were more prolific than Rathbone, who portrayed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation in no less than 14 films, alongside Nigel Bruce as his sidekick Watson. Now, thanks to the fine folks over at Umbrella Entertainment, all of those films have been collected in a digitally restored, seven-disc DVD set.
Chronicling Holmes and Watson’s Victorian beginnings all the way up to their latter adventures during World War II, the duos investigations saw them solve mysteries throughout the decades. The first film in the set is the iconic Hound of Baskervilles, which remains one of the most entertaining and popular Holmes’ tales to this day - and for good reason, as it never gets old. Other gems featured are Sherlock Holmes and the Faces of Death and Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear, along with rest; there really isn’t a subpar film in Rathbone’s Holmes canon.
The restoration looks absolutely stunning. Even in black and white it holds up superbly, though the power of the storytelling and performances of the actors has solidified these movies in pop culture for years to come anyway. However, with this set, there’s no better time to introduce new fans to the old films, and watching it, they don’t feel as if they’ve aged at all. Furthermore, some of the films are accompanied by some insightful commentaries supplied by experts, which alone make this worth picking up.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the classic Holmes films then this is going to please you as they look better than ever. However, if you’re only familiar with the recent BBC series and the Hollywood blockbusters starring the guy who plays Iron Man in the Marvel movies, then this would serve as a perfect starting if you’re interested in exploring the character’s rich cinematic history.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION / CERT: PG / DIRECTORS: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: BASIL RATHBONE, NIGEL BRUCE, MARY GORDON, DENNIS HOEY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW