Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by avedwards, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. avedwards

    avedwards Call Me a Cab

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    I realise now that these aren't for everyone as I know they can be very book inaccurate having read most of the stories. Please don't turn this thread into Rathbone-Brett debate though; if you don't like Rathbone's films then you don't have to comment.

    Rathbone was the first Holmes I saw (in one of the two films he did which were set in the correct era). He also remains my favourite and Bruce is my favourite Watson because I find the films more interesting to watch with him as he has more character than the quiet observer of the books.

    To this day the film "The Scarlet Claw" (widely regarded as the best of the series although this is open to debate) remains not just my favourite film of the series but my favourite film altogether. I liked it so much that I wrote about it for my English coursework as there is a surprising amount to say about what the directors thought of considering that it was made in three weeks. For me it had what makes a good film: good plot, good acting with credible characters (even Watson IMO), and plenty of suspense. I know, overpraised for a B-movie but then I like it and I like a lot of things which no one else likes :eek:.

    So what are other people's opinions on different Rathbone films (not comparing them to other Holmes actors but subjectively as films in their own right).
     
  2. Dixon Cannon

    Dixon Cannon My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Off Topic....

    ...but interesting note. :eek:fftopic:

    I just returned from London and couldn't resist seeing 221b Baker Street. The address (which really didn't exist) has been made into a Sherlock Holmes museum. Just fascinating! They receive letters from all over the world asking advice from Holmes, as if he is a real person who is still available for consultation.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    If in London, check it out, and say hello to Dr. Watson for us!
     
  3. avedwards

    avedwards Call Me a Cab

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    And having visited Baker Street it is far smaller than it looks in the Rathbone films which is a shame. But as my father pointed out when I remarked this, the room had to be made bigger to get all the camera angles in as it would be impossible in Baker Street.

    I was quite into SH at the time, even acted as him in a short stage play I wrote myself. A deerstalker was my first proper hat, only later I moved to fedoras when I wanted to copy Indiana Jones's hat without actually looking like him, hence I wear a more tapered and grey fedora.
     
  4. dhermann1

    dhermann1 I'll Lock Up

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    My old neighbor always loved to call him Rasel Bathroom. lol
    Yeah, what's not to love about those movies. Suspend your orthodox Holmesianism and enjoy. Rathbone particularly enjoyed doing them because he got to be the hero instead of the villain.
    For all the technical inaccuracy of this series, there is such a great energy and style to Rathbone's interpretation of the role.
     
  5. Lily Powers

    Lily Powers Practically Family

    I like Basil Rathbone (although I may never get the 'Rasel Bathroom' moniker out of my head now lol ). His Holmes was dashing, confident and smart, but also had a vulnerability and a sense othatsomething dark was lurking underneath.

    Thanks to the marriage of my TiVo and TCM, I watched a 1930 movie, The Bishop Murder Case, where he played detective Philo Vance. This was about 9 years before his first Sherlock film. Keep in mind, this movie is 79 years old, so it's a bit scratchy and grainy, but that's part of the charm and it doesn't dampen the captivating screen presence of Rathbone.
     
  6. The Wolf

    The Wolf Call Me a Cab

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    I enjoy those Holmes movies as well.
    For years my image of Holmes was that of Rathbone (which is similar to the Paget drawings in the Strand).
    I also liked the radio shows with Rathbone and Bruce. I have quite a few on cassette and recommend them to fans of the pair.

    Sincerely,
    The Wolf
     
  7. avedwards

    avedwards Call Me a Cab

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    One thing I noticed about inaccuracies in the films, other than the incorrect era, is that even within the era it is set in there are mistakes - the sets and the costumes make it look too much like it was set in America rather than Britain. For one thing, the amount of double breasted suits is staggering which is only a minor thing, but these were rare in wartime Britain due to rationing. Same goes for the amount of suits Watson has. And the amount of hats Holmes and Watson have between them in the earlier films. And the amount of fedoras and lack of bowlers. And not a single character in the hole series ever carried a gas mask, although these were obligatory.

    My biggest fuss with the set is the American houses which can be seen opposite 221B in some of the films. I don't expect a perfect reconstruction on Baker Street, but you can't have American houses and expect people to believe that this is London.

    But, even these cultural inaccuracies don't stop me enjoying the films.
     
  8. blacklagoon

    blacklagoon One of the Regulars

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    I grew up watching Rathbone as Holmes aswell,and only knew him as Holmes for decades.I try and view them now,with the same focus as i did when i was a child,and do so quite happily.I find it extremely easy to watch them,without comparing them to other Holmes films.I like them,and was glad when my parents bought the box set.
     
  9. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    I love the Basil Rathbone Holmes films!

    Sure, after the first two classy ones at Fox, they were just cheap Universal programmers (essentially 65-minute B pictures intended for double features) and the contemporary forties setting lost a good deal of the proper atmosphere. But they're surely going to seem massively faithful to the originals compared to the forthcoming Robert Downey/Jude Law movie!

    Anyway, I still love these films: they inspired me to read all the Holmes stories when I was a teenager.

    Here's an outstanding labor-of-love site on Rathbone, with loads of great pictures from the Holmes films:

    http://www.basilrathbone.net/
     
  10. To me, Rathbone and Bruce are Holmes and Watson. I grew up watching their films repeatedly on channel 9 here in L.A. (The Sorecerer's Apprentice was the theme song to the 90-minute program, hosted by whom I don't know.) It always seemed so odd, though, that the Universal series took place in the '40s. As Mr. Alan points out, there was an overriding Americaness to the series, and yet it all still seemed to meld together. Roy William Neill was the more-than-capable director of the series.

    The Scarlet Claw is a great entry, but not my favorite (perhaps because it takes place in Canada...sorry northern neighbors:eusa_doh: ). I really like The Secret Weapon for its storyline and the appearance of Lionel Atwill, and Sherlock Holmes in Washingon, only because it has the pair visiting the USA and contrasting American with British customs (don't like Rathbone's "Julius Caesar" hairstyle in that one, though). My favorites, however, are Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman, due to the appearance of femme fatale Gale Sondergaard, and The Pearl of Death, because of Evelyn Ankers and Rondo Hatton...Has anyone noticed that Dressed to Kill is now packaged as Prelude to Murder? As a note, Rathbone was a combat veteran of the Great War, and would often get together with other vets on various sets and swap stores.
     
  11. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

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    Rathbone and Bruce were both fine actors, but I never got used to watching the film series. I just can't stand historical inaccuracies.

    I did, however, enjoy the R&B Sherlock Holmes radio series.
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Practically Family

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    Rathbone remains my favorite Holmes, if for no other reason than he looks like a Sidney Paget illustration brought to life. His unmistakable voice and razor-sharp diction also add to his power as Holmes.
     
  13. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

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    Rathbone looks uncannily like the original Paget illustrations, I agree. He really DOES look like Sherlock Holmes.
     
  14. Forrestal

    Forrestal One of the Regulars

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    I have all 14 Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes films on my Ipod Touch. Although I can practically quote every line, I still continue to watch them over and over.

    Regards,
    Forrestal
     
  15. avedwards

    avedwards Call Me a Cab

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    In that case you are just like me. I can never tire of them.
     

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