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The Dynamic Duo
on April 10, 2015
Before Robert Downey Jr / Jude Law and Benedict Cumberbatch / Martin Freeman, there was Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
Basil Rathbone portrayed Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films from 1939 to 1946 and to many his iconic characterization of the Baker Street detective remains the best and is certainly the role Rathbone is best remembered for. I also want to give a shout out to Nigel Bruce's rather unorthodox but excellent portrayal of Dr. Watson. In the novels, Dr Watson was nearly as intelligent as Holmes and a capable assistant but in these films, Nigel Bruce's Watson acts buffoonish and seems to get more buffoonish with each film. Despite or perhaps because of his controversial stooging, Nigel Bruce was the perfect foil to Basil Rathbone. They played off each other wonderfully and truly are a dynamic duo.
Speaking of dynamic duos, MPI Home Video has released digitally restored double feature sets for all but four (Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, The Woman in Green, Terror by Night, and Dressed to Kill) of Rathbone's fourteen films. I find it odd MPI didn't choose to pair the films together in chronological order but that gripe aside this set features the pairing of Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943) and Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943). Sherlock Holmes Faces Death is one of my top ten favorite Sherlock Holmes films. Sherlock Holmes battles Nazis again in Sherlock Holmes in Washington. It is non-essential but enjoyable.
Video: Both movies are presented in a solid 1:37 full frame transfer. Even though both films are together on one single-sided dual layered dvd the image looks fine. The films are in black and white and overall look relatively clean for their age. I think UCLA really did a commendable job of restoring the films.
Audio: The only audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. It is clear sounding and I have no complaints.
* Audio commentary by David Stuart Davies on Sherlock Holmes Faces Death.