Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1939/Fox/MPI DVD)

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1939/Rathbone/Fox/MPI DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: B-



PLEASE NOTE: This film is now available on Blu-ray from MPI in a Sherlock Holmes set with all the Rathbone/Bruce films and you can read all about it at this link:





The second of two period-correct Sherlock Holmes films 20th Century-Fox produced before mistakenly abandoning the character to Universal has also been restored and issued by MPI.  Alfred Werker was the journeyman director who helmed The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes (1939) and though the film is considered a classic, it is more of a mixed film.


Fox certain put the money into the film, with Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce joined by the great Ida Lupino, Alan Marshall and George Zucco as Professor Moriarty.  This is very loosely based on the William Gillette play, a famous early Holmes play that began the evergreen expansion of other authors adapting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and materials.


Moriarty believes he has figured out a way to fool Homes and trump him once and for all.  He is so confident of this that he tricks him into a quick meeting warning him.  This does not deter Holmes, so the next case brought to Holmes has Holmes already expecting a Moriarty twist.  Since this is not cat-and-mouse enough for my tastes, knowing Moriarty is “afoot” makes this film less of a mystery and more of an atmospheric intrigue, as lavish as it can be.


This is one of those films that every justifies by saying you have to have read the books, but that is never an excuse for any film to be uneven and is one of the great myths of film viewing that exposes the most obvious of cinematic illiterates.  However, the film is still so interesting, it is a Holmes classic despite my reservations.  Lupino is so good in this film, that like her fellow performers, it brings the film up to a higher level the Edwin Blum/William Drake screenplay and shows again what a good year 1939 was for Hollywood.


The 1.33 X 1, full frame, black & white image has been restored painstakingly, doing great justice to one of the early great cinematography works of Leon Shamroy, A.S.C., who went on to be a key cameraman at Fox.  Often known for his widescreen work, this is very impressive work, even looking too polished for Victorian London of its time.  The image is just a bit soft in the transfer and the NTSC encoding necessary for this DVD may have caused touches of yellow in the image here and there.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good for its age, again form a restored source.  The music again is by another Fox veteran to be, Cyril J. Mockridge.  There is more music from him here than in the previous Fox/Holmes film, Hound Of The Baskervilles.


Extras include another great audio commentary by Richard Valley, the same Holmes trailers on the Hound Of The Baskervilles DVD (reviewed elsewhere on this site), a photo gallery set to music with stills and posters for this film, and a good booklet inside the DVD case about the film.  This is a Holmes classic and a mystery must-see, flaws and all.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com