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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sherlock does blu

The range of classic titles on blu-ray DVD will increase greatly with the March 29th US release of The Complete Sherlock Holmes collection.

This is a spectacular-looking upgrade from MPI's very good-looking 2006 DVD box set containing all 14 of the 1939-1946 features starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, still considered by many the most definitive of the dozens of performers who have appeared in these roles over the past century .

The high-definition transfers especially highlight the ways the films changed when they moved from Twentieth-Century Fox (where the first two were made in 1939) to Universal (where the series resumed in 1942). There is some debate over whether Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck or producer Gene Markey came up with the idea of casting the South African-born Rathbone -- primarily known for villanious roles at the time, though he had played suave contemporary sleuth Philo Vance back in 1930's "The Dragon Murder Case'' -- and Nigel Bruce, a veteran British character actor specializing in middle-aged bumblers (he was actually two years younger than Rathbone) most famous for his role in "Suspicion.''

Rathbone and Bruce did not even get top billing in their inaugural Fox entry, "The Hound of the Baskervilles,'' intended as a one-off release when it came out in March 1939. Rathbone is off screen for a good part of this reasonably faithful Arthur Conan Doyle adaptation (by Ernest Pascal) which builds up the part of the threatened heir Henry Baskerville, played by 21-year-old rising Fox star Richard Greene, best remembered today for the title role in the 1955-60 TV series "Robin Hood.''

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