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:
C+ Sound C+ Films:
Woman In Green (1945, only DVD with Extras:
Pursuit To Algiers (1945) C+
Terror By Night
Dressed To Kill
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.