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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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