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The Sherlock Holmes Feature Film Collection
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A thrilling blend of detective yarn and Gothic horror, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988) concerns the apparent return of an old curse upon the Baskerville family in the terrifying form of a gigantic killer hound. Fans of Hardwicke get an opportunity to see his Watson on a solo mission for part of this story, though Brett is never far from the narrative. The supporting cast is very good, and the beast itself, revealed in a famously terrifying finale, is indeed a spooky revelation.
In The Master Blackmailer (1991), Holmes takes on the reputed king of all blackmailers. Charles Augustus Milverton (Robert Hardy) has made a fortune extorting money from the famous and the blue-blooded, and he routinely ruins others' lives when not pleased. Unable to talk Milverton into turning over letters belonging to Lady Eva Brackenwell, Holmes decides to steal them, going undercover as a plumber and even romancing Milverton's housemaid, Agatha (Sophie Thompson), to gain better access in the house. The story builds to a surprisingly violent finale, but the real hook is Brett's performance as the disguised detective and the startling suggestion that Holmes's close contact with Agatha truly moved the bachelor sleuth.
A little overextended as a two-hour movie, The Eligible Bachelor (1992) was made late in the enterprise. It finds Holmes (the ailing Brett, playing an increasingly darker and more neurotic detective) and Watson called upon to help in a case involving the disappearance of Henrietta Doran (Paris Jefferson). Fiancée of the noble Lord Robert St. Simon (Simon Williams), Doran was last seen with a former lover of St. Simon's, Flora Millar (Joanna McCallum). The unimaginative Scotland Yard instantly arrests Millar on suspicion of foul play, but it is Holmes who has to find the missing woman.
The Last Vampyre (1992) was perhaps the most ill-advised of the series. Entirely contrary to the tone and spirit of Doyle's short story "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"--which finds Holmes victoriously pitting his well-grounded deductive powers against irrational fears of a rise in bloodsucking--it's something of an embarrassment to the largely wonderful legacy of Granada's earlier efforts. (For the record, most of the creative executives who had worked on the beloved series in the 1980s had been replaced by the time this film was made.) In this version, Holmes does battle with a Dracula-like fellow who may or may not be the real McCoy. There is a great deal of padding to fill out the story, and it is mostly silly, but the ailing Brett gives an ever-fascinating performance, which deviates from Doyle's vision of the detective toward something darker and more personal. --Tom Keogh
- Contains "The Eligible Bachelor," "The Hound of the Baskervilles," "The Last Vampyre," "The Master Blackmailer" and "The Sign of Four."
Top Customer Reviews
With these words, Sherlock Holmes comments on the mystery presented to him in "The Hound of the Baskervilles." And the "if" is a big one indeed, as he immediately makes clear: Asked by Dr. Watson whether he is inclined to place belief into the supernatural explanation of the phenomenon haunting the Baskerville family, Holmes points out that the devil's agents may well be of flesh and blood, thus instantly discounting the idea of the supernatural, and explains that there are two questions only to be resolved in this matter - whether any crime has been committed at all, and if so, what that crime is and how it was committed. Similarly, in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," Holmes dismisses all allegations of the work of bloodsucking fiends as "rubbish" and proceeds to prove in his seemingly effortless and strictly logical manner the perfectly natural solution to the events recounted to him by his client.
And herein lies the distinction between the movies contained in this collection and Arthur Conan Doyle's literary originals; and at the same time, the movies' overriding common element. For what is presented here is not necessarily, as in the shorter episodes of the TV series starring Jeremy Brett, a faithful rendition of Conan Doyle's originals, but rather, a set of five more or less classic gothic tales which happen to feature the famous detective from Baker Street and his companion Dr. Watson (Edward Hardwicke, who took over from David Burke after the TV series's first season).Read more ›
The Hound of the Baskervilles found in this DVD set can be a bit dry, and a bit slow at times. It is obvious that Brett is in ill-health. However, his performance is solid, and the moments he interacts with Hardwicke's Watson, we see a relationship between Holmes and Watson that no other team has captured. While Holmes delights in foiling Watson, such as in the opening scene over Dr. Mortimer's stick, it is Watson who steals the show. Hardwicke plays Watson as a world-weary, older brother of Holmes who understands him, and who is much needed by the world famous sleuth. Incidentally, for those who feel this particular version is too slow, I challenge you to see what happens when one tries to make a 'hipper, darker' version of the story, such as the 2002 production with Richard (Moulin Rouge) Roxburgh. The result is a gore-fest with little of the original story left in tact.Read more ›
The Feature Film Collection is not a collection of one-hour episodes, like the "Adventures," "Return," "Casebook," and "Memoirs" series. Rather, these are 5 individually-produced feature film length (roughly two hours) "movies." All excellent, two of the movies represent quite possibly the most famous Holmes stories of all: "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and "The Sign of Four."
Suffice it to say these are the finest and most authentic productions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes ever made. Most fans consider the late Jeremy Brett to be the quintessential Holmes, and Edward Hardwicke is a fine actor in his own right and a most excellent Dr. Watson.
Jeremy Brett was a gifted actor and should rightly be credited with "bringing to life" one of the 20th Century's most beloved fictional characters.
People may quibble about liberties taken here and there with the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but for the most part the "Feature Film" movies, like all the series, is very high quality; well-written, produced, and acted.
Again, technofiles may complain about the "transfer" as they have on other releases, but I believe MPI has done the best they can and the DVD is still FAR superior to owning these on videocassette. These DVDs are short on "frills" - meaning there's very little in the way of extras, but who cares? I'm buying these for the episodes.
Don't purchase these as an introduction to the series, start with the "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." Then purchase other DVD packages, "Casebook," "Feature Film Collection," and "Memoirs," all of which are excellent.
Are these worth purchasing?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the greatest stories written by one of the great authors in history, including one of the greatest actors to ever play the role of Sherlock Holmes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ron T.
Wow, this is the worse interpretation of one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes story I have ever seen. Imagine draining all the blood and excitement out of this great story and this... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dean A. Bengen
Watched All Sherlock Holmes movies to this date and got to say it, only Russian version of Sherlock Holmes (miniseries) is magifincent. Read morePublished 3 months ago by fewckisdat
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