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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "One of the first principles of solving crime is never to disregard anything no matter how trivial",
This review is from: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection (5DVD) (DVD)XXXXX
"Sherlock Holmes, the immortal character of fiction created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [1859 to 1930], is ageless, invincible, and timeless.
In solving significant problems of the present day he remains--as ever--the supreme master of deductive reasoning."
The above printed introduction is found the in the first couple of movies in this fully restored collection of fourteen classic black and white movies (released in 2006) starring Basil Rathbone as the great detective with his loveable sidekick Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce). All movies were preserved by the UCLA film and television archive. They are presented on five discs with three movies per disc (except for the fifth disc that contains two movies).
The movies are presented in the order in which they were originally released. There titles are as follows:
(1) The Hound of the Baskervilles (a personal favorite)
(2) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (a personal favorite)
(3) Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (I liked this least)
(4) Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
(5) Sherlock Holmes in Washington
(6) Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
(7) The Spider Woman
(8) The Scarlet Claw (a personal favorite)
(9) The Pearl of Death
(10) The House of Fear (a personal favorite)
(11) The Woman in Green
(12) Pursuit to Algiers
(13) Terror by Night
(14) Dressed to Kill (a personal favorite)
All the movies were released between 1939 and 1946. The advantage of having these movies presented in order is that the viewer can see how the series evolved over time.
For example, the printed introduction mentioned above was phased out early. Another good example is that many movies had a printed war bonds advertisement at their end that stated the following:
"You're not giving--just lending--when you buy war saving stamps and bonds--on sale here."
These ads were gradually phased out.
The total length for each movie is between 60 and 75 minutes with the exception of the first two movies which both last about 80 minutes.
All movies have between 12 and 13 scenes each with three exceptions. Two movies have 11 scenes while one has 14.
All movies (with two exceptions) are either "based on a story" or "based on the characters" or "adapted from a story" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For those who have read the actual stories, it is more accurate to say "loosely based" or "loosely adapted." If you want to see movies based accurately on Doyle's stories, I recommend seeing those movies with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes.
An invaluable aspect of this collection is that six of the movies have interesting and informative commentaries. I certainly learned a lot from them (as I'm sure any serious Sherlockian will).
The fifth disc has "Additional Bonus Material." Included here are five photo galleries where the camera pans over still pictures of scenes from each movie (with accompanying background music). Each gallery is 2 ' minutes in length. As well, there are six original theatrical trailers (not restored) that together have a total time of 7 minutes. Finally, there is some very old footage of "novelist and spiritualist" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that lasts just over 1 minute.
All of this bonus material, though brief, is extremely interesting.
Perhaps the best reason for obtaining this particular collection is that these movies have been fully restored (except for the first two). At the beginning of disc 1, there is a 5-minute excellent "Introduction" by the "Preservation Officer of the UCLA Film and TV Archive." He tells us, among other technical aspects, how these movies were saved just in time before disintegrating into oblivion. (In fact, the last two movies in this collection have no end credits because, I suspect, they could not be saved.)
I can attest to this wonderful restoration. I've viewed some of these movies on VHS. They were horrible. As well, I've viewed some of these movies on earlier DVD. While certainly better than VHS, there was always something wrong with the picture or audio. However, with this collection, all movies are just as good as when they were first released (perhaps even better!!).
These movies are also sold separately. However, if you want to obtain the entire collection through separate purchases, it will cost you more money.
Finally, there are some that give this collection one star because, of all things, bad packaging!! To condemn a valuable piece of film history on this basis is ludicrous.
In conclusion, this is wonderful collection of restored Sherlock Holmes movies that we can now finally be viewed as they were when they were first released. I leave you with another quotation by the super sleuth:
"The truth is only arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue."
(1939 to 1946; 16 hr, 15 min; 14 movies; black and white; English subtitles; full screen; 5 discs)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elementary!,
This review is from: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection (5DVD) (DVD)There have been only two long-running Sherlock Holmes actors who were really memorable: Jeremy Brett, and Basil Rathbone. And Rathbone is showcased at his best in "The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection," which collects all the excellent Sherlock movies (although the ones not cased on Arthur Conan Doyle's stories aren't quite as solid).
It opens with "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," which introduces us to the main characters. Sherlock Holmes (Rathbone) arrives at the courthouse a minute too late, and angrily watches his nemesis Professor Moriarty (George Zucco) go free because of a lack of evidence.
Sick of Holmes' investigations, Moriarty decides to utterly ruin Holmes with the most dastardly crime ever -- by distracting him with a bizarre threat to a young woman. Holmes becomes wrapped up in the potential murder, as the stressed-out police try to get him to pay attention to a threat to the Crown Jewels.
And after that, Holmes and his pal Watson (Nigel Bruce) solve all sorts of mysteries -- a string of bloody murders in a Canadian village, the theft of music-boxes, a stolen diamond on a train, the Hound of the Baskervilles on a lonely estate, World War II spies and kidnappings, a cursed pearl, the suicides of gamblers, castle murders, and a bizarre serial killing where the fingers are being removed.
Some of these Holmes movies are based on Doyle stories, and some aren't. Unsurprisingly, the ones that are based on Doyle stories ("Hound of the Baskervilles") tend to be a bit stronger than the ones that aren't ("Dressed to Kill"), and it's a little weird to see Holmes and Watson doing their patriotic duty in... World War II? Okay, whatever.
But even the least of these stories are enjoyable mysteries, usually with some convenient crimes for Holmes to solve, whether it's a straightforward mystery or a Agatha-Christie-style whodunnit. The sometimes gruesome crimes are softened with some fun comedy like Holmes as a gaucho, or Watson getting drunk.
The settings are colourful and varied -- misty forests and moors, trains, castles -- and the stories are fast-paced and energetic, even when there's been a murder or theft. But the filmmakers didn't cut out the creepier moments as well, such as the grimpen mire of "Hound of the Baskervilles," or the Musgrave ritual story.
Rathbone's Holmes is the cerebral side of the Great Detective -- cool and slightly languid, as if he's always lying back to ponder the mystery, but he shows a warm side when confronted with a victim. He even fits Doyle's descriptions of Holmes -- tall, skinny, big nose. Nigel Bruce does a good enough job, but the portrayal of Watson is seriously flawed. He's basically literate comic relief.
"The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection" has a few weak links, but even the weakest is entertaining and suspenseful, with excellent acting by Rathbone and Bruce. Definitely worth getting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sherlock Holmes Complete Collection,
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This review is from: The Sherlock Holmes Complete Collection (Blu-Ray) (Blu-ray)This collection of remade Holmes movies is outstanding. I could never have imagined that they could clean up those old movies and sound to this level. This is a technological marvel.
I have collected Basil Rathbone movies of Holmes over the years by copying from TV but they don't compare in any way to the quality of this DVD.
I heartily recommend this collection to anyone who is interested in seeing Basil Rathbone and Holmes at their very best.
It is worth every penny of the cost and more.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes 1939-46: A Guide to Deducing US and UK DVD Quality,
This review is from: The Sherlock Holmes Complete Collection (Blu-Ray) (Blu-ray)This is not a review of the films themselves - you're reading this, so presumably you already like them! It is, rather, an attempt to clear up the confusion over the quality discrepancy found in the numerous different releases and guide you towards getting the best value for your money.
Firstly, of the 14 films produced from 1939-46, 4 are in the public domain:
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
The Woman in Green (1945)
Terror by Night (1946)
Dressed to Kill (1946)
This explains why poor-quality prints of these are endlessly reissued on cheapo budget labels - avoid (almost) ALL of them.
The sole exceptions to this are the versions digitally restored and colorized (yikes!) by Legend Films in 2005. You'll find these if you cut and paste the following into your browser:
These have been done extremely well and, in the case of the region 1 editions, feature the original black and white version too, as well as restored, colorized trailers for Secret Weapon and Dressed to Kill.
The only high quality, fully-restored editions of the ENTIRE series in the US and UK are those issued by MPI and Optimum, respectively.
The reasons for this are explained in detail in the Wikipedia "Sherlock Holmes (1939 film series)" article, in the "Restoration and home video release" section (edited by moi!).
ALL other DVD editions of the 14 films, such as the UK releases by Cornerstone/Orbit Media, are sourced from earlier, unrestored prints.
MPI have issued these films twice on DVD: individually, 1 film per disc, in 2003-4 and a 5-disc box set containing all 14 films in 2006.
The relative merits of the different MPI releases are discussed in detail by other reviewers, e.g. here:
In brief, the individual DVDs include copious pages of illustrations and production notes by Sherlock expert Richard Valley, but no audio commentary on Dressed to Kill, as it was recorded after their release.
Conversely, the 2006 box set loses the production notes, but adds a then-brand new commentary for Dressed to Kill.
It should be noted that the image quality of the box set actually IMPROVES slightly over that of the earlier releases. Athough the box set has 2-3 films sharing each disc, bear in mind that they are in black and white with mono soundtracks and most are little over an hour long. This is not a stretch for the capacity of the DVD format.
The films on the 2003-4 DVDs have an average bitrate of 5.3 mb/s, whilst those in the box set have even better compression and an average bitrate of 7.3 mb/s.
For the best quality of all, of course, go for the MPI region A Blu-ray set; the contents mirror those of the 2006 box set, except this time the films have been arranged chronologically, in order of original release.
The 2005 UK Optimum DVD box set (14 films on 7 discs) includes the production notes (albeit only on initial pressings), but again, loses out on the as-then-unrecorded Dressed to Kill commentary.
Hope all this helps!
Lastly, a request: I used to own the original MPI issues but sold them a few years ago. I now miss the production notes! Does anyone know of anywhere I can find them transcribed or scanned? Thanks!
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Purists' Tale, but Very Entertaining!,
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This review is from: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection (5DVD) (DVD)I'm not going to enter the debate, regarding who is the quinessential Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone vs. Jeremy Brett). I like them both and for different reasons. If you want some very entertaining Sherlock Holme's inspired B-movies, than this is the collection for you. If you are a purist and anything less angers you, than buy The Complete Granada Television Series. Both are entertaining, in their own way, and both actors do a great job with the character. No one can claim that either is perfect in their rendition, as Basil forgets to drop his head onto his chest and walk about the room quickly with his hands behind his back, while thinking about a new problem. And Brett forgets to soften and endear himself when talking to a woman. Both have some faults and both have their moments of brilliance - the character is awesome and it's great how they both do such a good job by it! I have both dvd collections and love them both :)
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Quick, Watson! The game's afoot!",
This review is from: The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection (5DVD) (DVD)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.
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The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection (5DVD) by Basil Rathbone (DVD - 2006)
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