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THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES ($20) is the second and last of the of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films to be produced by 20th Century Fox. This movie also marked the last time that Rathbone/Bruce team would be depicted in the proper Victorian settings of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Of course, unlike THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, which was based upon the Arthur Conan Doyle story, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES uses the popular William Gillette play as inspiration for its otherwise original scenario. Despite not coming directly from Conan Doyle, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is a thoroughly entertaining motion picture that afforded both Rathbone and Bruce the opportunity to do some of their best work as the characters of Holmes and Watson. Additionally, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is strengthen as a film thanks to the presence of George Zucco, whose underrated talents bring to vivid life Sherlock Holmesí arch nemesis Professor Moriarty.

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES opens with the late arrival of Sherlock Holmes at a trial, where he is unable to prevent the acquittal Professor Moriarty for his latest rash of crimes. A free man once again, Moriarty knows that Holmes will continually be on his tail, yet the "Napoleon of Crime" still vows to pull off the crime of the century, right under the nose of the worlds greatest consulting detective. Using Holmes strengths against him, Moriarty sets in motion a complex plot that will attract and hold the attention of Sherlock Holmes, while at the same time taking a subtler tact towards a more elaborate crime, which is guaranteed a place in the history of the British Empire. THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES also features Ida Lupino as Ann Brandon, a young woman who comes to 221b Baker Street, seeking the detectiveís help, when the life of her brother is threatened. Additionally, the cast also includes Alan Marshal, Terry Kilburn, Henry Stephenson, E.E. Clive, Arthur Hohl, May Beatty, Peter Willes and Mary Gordon.

MPI Home Video has made THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES available on DVD in a terrific black and white presentation that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. Like THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES didnít require the extensive restorative efforts applied to the Universal produced films starring Rathbone and Bruce. The film elements appear to be in marvelous shape and produce an image that is sharp and beautifully defined. Blacks are deep and velvety, while the whites appear clean and stable. Contrast is excellent, as the picture produces a rich and varied grayscale. Blemishes are very minor, which isnít bad at all for a film that is sixty-five years old. At times, there is a slightly noticeable grain structure, which helps give the presentation a nicely film-like appearance. Digital compression artifacts are generally well concealed.

For its age, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES comes with a good quality Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Most traces of background hiss and audible distortions have been cleaned up, leaving a fairly crisp sounding track. There are the expected limitations in fidelity; however, the filmís music always manages to come across in a rather pleasant fashion. Voices are well recorded, with the dialogue always being completely intelligible. No other language tracks are included on the DVDs; however, English subtitles have been provided. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few choice supplements. Scarlet Street publisher Richard Valley is on hand with an entertaining and rather informative running audio commentary. A still gallery of publicity photos and poster art, plus selected Holmes theatrical trailers completes the supplements.

In addition to being the last time that Rathbone and Bruce would appear in a Victorian setting, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is also one of the most entertaining films to feature them as Holmes and Watson. MPIís DVD looks and sounds great, making it something that will certainly please movie buffs and, in particular, devotees of this classic Sherlock Holmes movie. If you are a Rathbone/Bruce fan, then THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is a must have. Absolutely recommended.



Adventures of Sherlock Holmes


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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