Holmes Films (BFS/AHT)
Sound: C- Extras: D Films:
Woman In Green (1946) B-
Terror By Night (1946) C+
Dressed To Kill (1946) C+
Though a good number of Sherlock Holmes material has made
it to DVD, including much TV material, the search has been on for watchable
copies of any of the 14 feature films with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. The first two were made by 20th
Century Fox, but when they dropped doing any more, the team found themselves at
the much smaller, poorer “little sister” studio Universal. The Horror genre home did not have the money
for turn-of-the-century sets either.
Add the impending Axis menace and the great Detective team was
transplanted to modern times, which was effective enough to spawn a series of
hit films Universal needed badly.
BFS, through the American Home Treasures label, offers the
3 of the last four films, but the sound and picture are a big
disappointment. Yes, it is a cheap DVD
and there is some text information on Holmes, creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
and the leads, but the prints used are in occurrently shot condition. The sound has so much hiss, you could think
a snake attack was imminent.
The series was going into decline at this point, but still
had its moments. Rathbone wisely
departed, in part, likely knowing Universal could not increase the budget or
production values. WWII was over as
well, further cutting off the reason this pairing of the detectives was needed;
their era was played out. These Universal
films, despite their being a Doyle Estate, somehow fell into public domain!
These copies look too played out themselves, so this DVD
joins a long list of Rathbone failures.
Next up, MPI tries to issue the Rathbone films in what they say are
restored copies. We can’t wait to see.
- Nicholas Sheffo