The Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes playlist is made up of 14 full-length movies made in the 1930s and 40s.
Basil Rathbone makes a convincing Sherlock Holmes. That’s about all the resemblance these movies have to the original stories. The American screenwriters seemed to be only interested in the character and not the plots written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Only the first film produced in 1938 by 20th Century Fox exhibited any faithfulness to the original story. The rest can only be described as loosely based.
Only the first two films were set in the correct century. The next 12 films were set during the Second World War. There must be good reasons to ignore the successful storylines Doyle had created.
Apart from the liberal creative licence, I think the 14 films are quite enjoyable and entertaining on their own. The BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch (affiliate link) wasn’t faithful either and they are tremendously fun to watch.
I’m glad to be able to find the complete films of Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes freely available online. Extensive restoration has been done and so the quality is really quite good. I decided to choose the ones with colour restored (as much as possible) because I thought the lighting seem better.
1. The Hound of The Baskervilles 1939
A man attempts to gain an inheritance by killing the proper heir with a phosphorescent hound. Based on The Hound of the Baskervilles.
2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
Professor Moriarty, Holmes’s nemesis attempts to steal the Crown jewels while side-tracking Holmes’ attention by a mysterious murder.
3. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror 1942
Holmes aids Scotland yard in their investigation of a spy network with a subversive radio network. Inspired by The Last Bow.
4. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon 1943
Sherlock Holmes fights to keep a new bombsite design from the Nazis. Borrowed loosely from The Adventure of the Dancing Men.
5. Sherlock Holmes in Washington 1943
Holmes and Watson trace a missing secret document on microfilm for the British Government.
6. Sherlock Holmes Faces Death 1943
Sherlock Holmes investigates murders at a rest home where Watson volunteers. Inspired by The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual.
7. The Spider Woman 1944
Sherlock Holmes fakes his own death to expose a killer. Borrowing elements from The Adventure of the Dying Detective, The Sign of Four and The Final Problem
8. The Scarlet Claw 1944
Sherlock Holmes investigates a haunting in a Canadian village vital to the war effort.
9. The Pearl of Death 1944
Sherlock Holmes investigates the link between a stolen pearl and a series of murders. Inspired by The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.
10. The House of Fear 1945
When members of the Good Comrades club start being killed, Holmes is called to their Scottish mansion to investigate. Before a victim is killed, he receives an envelope with orange pips.
11. The Woman in Green 1945
Holmes and Watson are consulted by Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard to assist with the “finger murders”, where young women have been murdered and one of their fingers have been removed.
12. Pursuit to Algiers 1945
Holmes and Watson are engaged by the Prime Minister of Rovinia to assist with the safe passage of Prince Nikolas from his school in Britain to Algiers.
13. The Terror by Night
Holmes and Watson are hired by Ronald Carstairs and his mother Lady Margaret to protect the Star of Rhodesia diamond on a train trip from London to Scotland.
14. Dressed to Kill
Sherlock Holmes sets out to find why people are killing each other over a seemingly inexpensive music box.
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