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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

DVDs to give: ‘The Sherlock Holmes Collection’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes Double Feature: The Spider Woman/Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror’

FOR THE CLASSIC MYSTERY FAN/available now

There are always way too many DVDs coming in than I possibly ever review, but since ’tis the season to be giving, I thought it was worth pointing out some of them to you, in case you’re stuck for gift ideas for the people on your list. (Or even to give as gifts to yourself. My own Christmas shopping does tend to drift into “one for you, one for me” if I don’t consciously tamp down that impluse.)

Most of the BBC 1960s series Sherlock Holmes has been lost (the BBC weirdly didn’t hold on to a lot of the TV stuff it broadcast early on). But here, in a collection new to DVD, we have five Conan Doyle mysteries starring Peter Cushing as the great detective, and Nigel Stock as Watson. On three discs and almost five hours of runtime, Holmes solves the cases of “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” “The Sign of the Four,” “The Blue Carbuncle,” “A Study in Scarlet,” and “The Boscombe Valley Mystery.” A not-so-serious fan who is more interested the Robert Downey Jr. than in Holmes himself might not be thrilled with this. But serious Conan Doyle devotees — and fans of great British TV — will be.

And then there’s the sillier side of the never-ending attempt to make hay out of Conan Doyle’s legacy: the Basil Rathbone version of the great detective, which transported him in time and had him fighting Nazis, with Nigel Bruce’s Watson in the 1940s. Needless to say, these stories were not based on Conan Doyle, but while they may piss off purists, there’s no question that Rathbone’s portrayal of Holmes is legendary, and so iconic that we’re still living with its legacy today.

On this one disc are two short features: The Spiderwoman, in which Holmes investigates the “Pajama Suicides”; and The Voice of Terror, the plot of which turns on nefarious Nazi radio broadcasts: definitely not a Victorian story at all.

The Sherlock Holmes Collection
[buy at Amazon (Region 1)]

Sherlock Holmes Double Feature: The Spider Woman/Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
[buy at Amazon (Region 1)]



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  • so clearly pastiches of SH are nothing new… SH fighting Nazis? 1940s fan fiction! although i watched the Basil Rathbone movies when i was a kid and they were on saturday mornings or in the middle of the night, so far no one else compares to Jeremy Brett’s Holmes. a few of those stories were also “new” to the canon and yet very well done and close to the spirit of the stories.

  • They even have these on Netflix right now! I love that we can stream these through our xbox 360! I’m a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes– I’m excited, but not without trepidation, about the new movie coming out and have considered the name “Basil” for our son, lol!

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