The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection
Purists sniff that these films too often strayed from the Arthur Conan Doyle stories and novels (Holmes battling Nazis in The Voice of Terror). Others say Jeremy Brett was a superior Holmes in the Granada TV series. Both true. And yet, there’s something exceedingly right about Rathbone’s keen intensity as the detective and Bruce’s portly charm as Watson.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, full of fog and menace, was Rathbone’s personal favorite. Even better is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, in which he goes head-to-head with archenemy Moriarty. The remaining 12 films, superbly restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive — and all but the lame Voice of Terror directed with B-movie flair by Roy William Neill — are more hit than miss. Standouts include The Scarlet Claw, with a grisly sequence worthy of Hitchcock; Sherlock Holmes in Washington, in which a matchbook cleverly becomes a suspense element; and Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (when didn’t he?), a shadowy spin on the Old Dark House genre (horror buffs will recognize sets recycled from Dracula and Frankenstein).
The six commentaries by two Doyle-Holmes aficionados are crisply informative. (Best trivia: The name of the 140-pound Great Dane in Baskervilles was changed from Blitzen to Chief to avoid a Nazi taint.) And Doyle enthusiasts will delight in a 1927 clip of the author espousing his interest in spiritualism. So, is this set worth the $130 price tag? Elementary, my dear reader.