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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Literature > The Sherlock Holmes Collection – Volume Three (1945 – 1946/Rathbone/Universal/UCLA/MPI DVD)

The Sherlock Holmes Collection – Volume Three (1945 – 1946/Rathbone/Universal/UCLA/MPI DVD)



PLEASE NOTE: These films are 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:





Picture:   C+     Sound     C+     Films:


Woman In Green (1945, only DVD with Extras: B-)     B-

Pursuit To Algiers (1945)     C+

Terror By Night (1946)     C+

Dressed To Kill (1946)     C+



MPI Home Video finishes their terrific release of the Basil Rathbone The Sherlock Holmes Collection with the third and final volume of the series.  All twelve films have been saved and each one has a DVD to itself, ensuring top picture and sound quality.  After twelve years, their work is complete and these discs are the result.

These final discs show the decline of the series, but it went out memorably, with plenty of interesting moments to offer.  They are also the most played out, issued to death more than any others in the series by countless other video companies, including DVD releases.  The films, all directed by Roy William Neill, are as follows:


Woman in Green (1945) is the best of this final set, with Hillary Brooke in the title role, more or less.  Bertram Millhauser left the series after this and is obviously something never recovered from.  Despite the potential presence of a “spider woman” on the prowl, several women have been killed.  This has one of the very best Holmes detective trick gags ever, so good that it is a classic.


Pursuit to Algiers (1945) demonstrates the shakiness Millhauser left behind.  Leonard Lee created this near-pastiche of a mystery about the detective duo protecting a royal heir, which has Holmes and Watson all over the place, but it is not bad as a change of pace adventure.


Terror by Night (1946) comes from an actual Doyle tale about a diamond jewelry piece stolen, but does not totally repeat the Pearl of Death plot.  Holmes and Watson do something here they could have never done in their time, pursue the case on an early bullet train!


Dressed to Kill (1946) is always confused with the great 1980 Brian De Palma film of the same name, but they have nothing to do with each other, especially since this final installment if from a Doyle story.  People have hardly seen the 1941 P.I. Michael Shayne B-Movie of the same name.  Either way, a prison-produced music box holds the key to a series of murders.  Frank Gruber wrote the screenplays for these final two installments.  This is a decent, dignified, befitting conclusion to one of the most memorable short B-Movie series of all time.


These too were exceptionally well-made B-movies, unlike the Charlie Chan series, which was a profitable but artistic disaster at Monogram once it left Fox.  20th Century Fox did not want to continue spending the money to recreate the Victorian England of Holmes world at the time, so Universal took over and did a much better job than Monogram.  One of the reasons is that Universal respected the characters more, with Monogram wasting Sidney Toler.  Now that I have seen all twelve films restored, I can enthusiastically reiterate that is one of the great restoration stories and successes of all time.  Kudos to UCLA for truly bringing back 12 of the great detective’s finest adventures!


The 1.33 X 1, full frame, monochrome films have never looked so good in my lifetime, except in stills.  The cinematographers are as follows:  Virgil Miller (Woman in Green), Paul Ivano (Pursuit to Algiers), and Maury Gertsman (Terror by Night, Dressed to Kill) all A.S.C.  All of them have great Noir-like moments, solid Video Black, Gray Scale, and often nice detail and depth.  That is even in the face of some of the materials being a few generations down.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is good for its age on all four DVDs, with limited background noise.  Combined, this is a revelation as compared to the dozens of awful, unacceptable copies of these films that have been circulating for decades on VHS, Beta, LaserDisc and other DVDs.  They are also about even in as far as the restoration is concerned, sometimes having to rely on 16mm footage a few generations down!  This is easily the best these have looked in decades.


There are no extras on any of the DVDs, except on Woman In Green, which offers yet another nice montage of posters, lobby cards, and stills from these films, yet another priceless and entertaining commentary by David Stuart Davies, another fine booklet with great notes by Richard Valley in the case, and sound footage (in black and white) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself!  What a great man.  The Sherlock Holmes Collection – Volume Three is a set everyone deserves to enjoy, with the previous two DVD boxes (and now the Blu-ray set) reviewed elsewhere on this site.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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