Pop focus: Sherlock Holmes at the movies

Before Benedict, there was Basil.

Teamed with Nigel Bruce as Dr. John Watson, Basil Rathbone was THE Sherlock Holmes for a good chunk of the 20th century, appearing in 14 Holmes films between 1939 and 1946. Those who didn't see the films in the theaters saw them on television, where they ran for decades as afternoon and late-night filler.

With his angular, birdlike profile Rathbone is the face that comes to the minds of many when they picture Sherlock Holmes. He appeared similar to images of Holmes that appeared in print with Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories and, following the films, his face inspired many more depictions of the detective.

The first Holmes film starring Rathbone and Bruce was based an adaptation of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," while the second, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" was based on an 1889 stage play.

From there, the series moved from 20th Century Fox to Universal Studios and wandered straight into anachronism. While the first two pictures were based in Holmes' original time period of the late 1800s, the early Universal films saw Holmes and Watson fighting Nazi and foreign saboteurs.  Later entries drifted back into more conventional detective stories.

Below is a look at the Rathbone-Bruce series, including production shots and posters.

Hound of the Baskervilles, 1939

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939

Sherlock Holmes and theVoice of Terror, 1942

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, 1943

Sherlock Holmes in Washington, 1943

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, 1943

The Spider Woman, 1945

The Secret Claw, 1944

The Pearl of Death, 1944

Sherlock and the House of Fear, 1945

The Woman in Green, 1945

Pursuit to Algiers, 1945

Terror By Night, 1946

Dressed to Kill, 1946

1 comment:

  1. Good spotlight on Holmes and Watson. I enjoy just about all eras of Sherlock Holmes as well, and it wasn't until recently that I ran into the Basil Rathbone series, which as you said, is very good.