If you remember the old Sherlock Holmes films with fondness, you're sure to enjoy this DVD set. It contains all 14 films made by Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, nicely restored, with an introduction, four commentaries, trailers, and still photos. I like all of the films, but my favorites are the gothic thrillers dealing with legends and superstitions in rural settings: "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (set in the original Victorian period), "The Scarlet Claw," and "The House of Fear." Here Holmes is at the top of his game, single-handedly solving crimes with his brilliant powers of deduction. His comic sidekick, the always-foggy Dr. Watson, is the perfect balance to Holmes' arrogance and severity. Watson is charmingly dim, unfailingly loyal to Holmes, and even, once in a while, manages to be helpful. Blustering, helpless Police Inspector Lestrade pops up occasionally and is always fun.
The least engaging films for me are those in which Holmes battles spies during WWll: "The Secret Weapon," "The Voice of Terror," and "Sherlock Holmes in Washington." I think Holmes is more effective in intimate settings dealing with one protagonist and one villain. The most dastardly villain of all, of course, is evil Professor Moriarity, who is in three of the films, played by three different actors. There are half a dozen others who appear in almost all of the films, rotating from small to important parts, and t's fun to spot them.
Rathbone and Bruce are such a pleasant pair, providing puzzle-solving panache and sweet comedy relief. The dialogue is always sharp, the costumes elegant, and the films short (at just over an hour long), which keeps the action brisk. This collection is indeed a feast for Holmes fans.