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Sherlock Holmes 1964-1965: BBC

Douglas Wilmer , Nigel Stock    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 24.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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The 1960s BBC series Sherlock Holmes has all the virtues of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective--shrewd and efficient, with flashes of visual panache but never at the expense of sturdy, straightforward storytelling. The 13 episodes on this DVD set include such favorites as "The Red-Headed League" and "The Six Napoleons," as well as lesser-known stories like "The Beryl Coronet" and "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax." Douglas Wilmer plays Holmes with all the traditional accouterments: the deerstalker cap, the pipe, the aquiline nose, the obsessive and abrasive nature, the mix of haughty superiority and moral compassion. Nigel Stock is a typically affable but dense Watson. The supporting casts feature an abundance of unknown but capable character actors who bring flavor and zest to their roles. Some episodes have a hint of film noir or the pulp surrealism of Fantomas, with good use of shadows and things not quite seen. The best stories traffic in the macabre. In "The Devil's Foot," a woman dies overnight while playing cards with her brothers, who each went mad; they sit at a round table, the woman's hand covered in melted wax from the candle, the men grinning, twitching, and laughing. Holmes, of course, will suss out the truth--but the truth is less likely to stick in the mind than that weird domestic image. Sherlock Holmes walks that fine line between morbid imagination and complete faith in the power of the rational mind. --Bret Fetzer

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU ARE COLLECTOR. July 12 2011
By alain robert TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Probably because i have seen all those episodes with JEREMY BRETT before,i was not very impressed with that 1964-1965 BBC series.Only about half of them are really enjoyable.For instance,THE SPECKLED BAND and THE RED HEADED LEAGUE,if you compare them with the 80's versions,BRETT wins against WILMER.Understandidly,WILMER plays SHERLOCK in a less eccentric way to say the least than BRETT.Nevertheless,i liked some episodes like THE COPPER BEECHES,THE SIX NAPOLEONS and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY CARFAX.In this series, INSPECTOR LESTRADE played by PETER MADDEN is really bizarre.If you are a SHERLOCK HOLMES collector,you'll be happy to add this series to your collection.If not,stick with JEREMY BRETT or the old films with BASIL RATHBONE and you won't be disapointed.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars generally good, especially for the price Sept. 17 2010
By it - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
These dramatizations are pleasant to watch and hold your attention. I am giving it only four stars because of two things that man bother some viewers and not others.

1. These were recorded on video tape about 50 years ago (in round numbers). It shows. They have not been digitally remastered. They have the usual low resolution, small amounts of snow, and in one episode, black blobs that stay put during the whole 50 minutes. They usually invisibly blend in with the dark objects and snow, but once in a while a thespian move so that it is on their face. Other episodes have less irritating imperfections. The audio does not have any defects.

2. These are short stories that are stretched out to last 50 minutes. If you consider that a full novel can fit in a 90 minute dramatization, you can guess how much padding is inserted and how many scenes are prolonged. Amateur cultural anthropologists, like myself, will not find this useless. They can enjoy the clothes, furniture, architecture, spoken language, and social interactions.

Anyway, if you are a Holmes fan, you should definitely buy this one.
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Sign of Poor: A Study in Sub-par Video Sept. 29 2010
By The Professor - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The surviving eleven episodes from the 1964-65 BBC Sherlock Holmes make their belated debut on DVD hot on the heels of A&E's recent release of the Peter Cushing episodes.

The Pros: Douglas Wilmer makes a fine Holmes, both in performance and appearance. He looks like a cross between the original drawings from The Strand Magazine and Basil Rathbone in profile. He spends far too much time wearing his cliche deerstalker cap, but he looks like he's having so much fun that I can forgive him. Nigel Stock as Watson is a competent actor giving his all, much as he did as Watson in the Cushing episodes. A fun touch for fans is when Jeremy Brett's first Watson, David Burke, shows up sans moustache as a young playboy gambler in one adventure. The stories hew very close to the Doyle originals, but are occasionally padded for time with fun additional moments that nicely complement the overall tone.

The Cons: The video quality varies from passable to abysmal. The very first episode is one of the worst, with "stair-step" video pixellation and immovable black specks screen center that constantly draw your eyes. Things improve a bit for the next nine episodes, but then the final episode spoils things with some awkward sound edits that clip dialogue. Since the BBC regularly wiped their tapes after transmission to re-record over them and save money, I suppose it's a small miracle we have these episodes in any form--But quite honestly the quality makes them look like the public domain prints of old TV shows you get eight on a disk for $5 at K-mart. In addition, the eleven 50 minute episodes are on four DVD-18 double-sided disks. It is practically impossible not to scratch them and they are much more prone to playback errors than single-sided DVDs.

In fact, I had to have Amazon send me a replacement when one of the episodes decided to freeze and go dead right in the middle of the action. Still, even with the above gripes, I recommend the set.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Sherlock Holmes available at long last, Oct. 14 2010
By J. Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
It marvelous being able to see this definitive 1960's black and white BBC television dramatisation of some of the best Sherlock Holmes Canon finaly on official BBC dvd,though I confess to having had most of the series in my possesion for many years via the collecting circuit.

Douglas Wilmer (who is still alive) is the only Holmes worthy of ranking alongside Jeremy Brett.They were both brilliant in their own way Wilmer plays Holmes as a matter of fact unemotional thinking machine and the late great Jeremy Brett played him as a rather more emotional unraveller of mysteries.Both got as close to the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as is imaginably possible.

Gawd knows why the BBC have released this classic series on dvd in America before the country they were made and financed in the UK no doubt for financial reasons the American market being so vast,but take it from me anybody remotely interested in Sherlock Holmes cannot afford not to see this series. You will never see a better telling of these tales.

Sadly the BBC havent done even the smallest amount of restoration of these recordings that have survived by virtue of it being preserved on telecine film used in the sixties to distribute tv recordings to other countries as it overcame the difficulties of broadcast formats.

Some sharpening of the picture quality and cleaning up of the hissy low volume sound would have made these vintage recordings much more palatable to the younger audience spawned on digital clarity.

Theirs no extras at all, even though the brilliant Douglas Wilmer is still alive and has recently been videoed discussing the series. Some of the missing film footage of "The Bruce Partington Plans" does survive it was used in the ITV long running arts programme The Southbank Show in the late 1980's about the London underground,and if memory serves me right all the sountrack survives.I am not sur if anything survives of the other episode missing from this DVD release "The Abbey Grange".

Strangely the BBC take more trouble over DVD releases of much less important and illustrious tv series than they have over this one which the worlds Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts have been begging them to release for decades.

Anyway because I absolutely adore this series I have awarded it 5 stars though the BBC release team deserve no more than one star for their pitiful effort in finaly making tis series available in its unrestored form.

Televisualy yours

Jim Clark
poetryanimations at youtube where great literary figures are reincarnated from photographs and portraits via computer
animation
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holmesian fun! Sept. 24 2010
By M. Casey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
After buying the Peter Cushing/Nigel Stock BBC series, I didn't think my collection would be complete, so I decided to risk it and go for this series, too.

I found it great fun - though, as the reviewer above me mentioned, some of the shows seem rather stretched out - (notibly The Red-Headed League) and I do wish the episodes could have been remastered, as the Cushing series was.

I have never seen Wilmer in anything before, but his Holmes grew on me, and Nigel Stock makes a sturdy Watson.

With two notible exceptions, none of the guest actors I saw were at all familiar.... (for appearing in anything else,) but sharp-eyed viewers will catch Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor Who) in "The Devil's Foot" and David Burke (that's right, the first Doctor Watson in the acclaimed Granada series -1984-1995) as Sir George Burnwell in The Beryl Coronet - a story the even the Granada series didn't get to.

All in all, good fun and I feel I got what I paid for.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Holmes April 30 2011
By London Fog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This series is not without its flaws. It certainly could have used better remastering when transferred to DVD, and there are a few episodes, namely The Copper Beeches, The Red-Headed League and The Speckled Band, which seem to have been partially re-written, for what purpose I am still scratching my head over. While the deviations from the Canon stories were definitely a bit strange, it's a testament to Douglas Wilmer's portrayal of Holmes how watchable they still are and how just his presence in the role seems to make up for the instances of poor scripting.

Those episodes are the exception, though. Nearly all the rest have become definitive adaptations for me, not only due to their (for the most part) faithfulness to the stories, but there is something intangible about Wilmer's Holmes that I had never before seen translated from the page to screen. It's the very subtle nuances of his temperament, but more so than that, Wilmer brings across Holmes sense of humour so startlingly well, at times he gives a more faithful portrayal than even the great Jeremy Brett. Certainly, it would have been nice if the budget used to produce this series was cushier, yet personally speaking, that all became background to the unfolding of the plot and Wilmer's uncanny performance.

Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson was not so nuanced as other greats in the role, and I am loathe to say there were a few odd occasions - though it was not characteristic of the role - where he was just a bit dumbed down. Despite this, Stock gives a strong performance that very much reminded me of Doyle's Watson. His fierce loyalty, obliging nature, and yes, on the whole his intelligence shone through brilliantly. Save for a few small nitpicks, I can see him being ranked along side the likes of David Burke and Martin Freeman.

Some of my favourite stories were adapted here, and so I went into them with very high expectations. I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I'm prepared to say The Devil's Foot went above and beyond even the Granada episode, the latter paling dreadfully in comparison to this. So for all the minor imperfections in the DVDs and a few of the scripts, this is a definitive series and well worth every penny.
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