Thursday, October 20, 2005

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes . . .
What story does the name conjure up?
What better in this season of spirits, hobgoblins, foggy nights and craig-laden landscapes then "The Hound of the Baskervilles!"
Perhaps the best movie (and arguably closest to the original story, at least in spirit!) was Twentieth Century-Fox's version with Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. John Watson.
Dr. Mortimer takes us back to the original debauchery that spawned the Baskerville's curse of a Hell-hound that lead to the recent death of the present Baron.
Watching it, you can feel the cold, clammy night air as Holmes and Watson follow young Baskerville on London's sidewalks while danger lurks in the evening mists.
And who better to be valet and his wife in Baskerville Hall out in the dark, wild moors than John Carradine and Eily Malyon?
Is it perfect?
No.
Mr. and Mrs. Stapleton are no longer married. The period just before World War II frowned on such carrying ons in the movies so they're still family just not too cozy about it!
The entire sub-plot involving Franklyn's daughter is gone.
Carradine's Barrymore has become "Barryman" supposedly out of deference to Barrymore family of actors.
[Miss Maven understands that John Barrymore's granddaughter, Drew, is still acting so do they still use have to use "Barryman" in any remakes?!?! Not to mention millions around the world who have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and never heard of the Barrymores!]
The studio only made this film and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" with Rathbone and Bruce and a very young Ida Lupino and then went on to other stories.
Universal Studios picked up the franchise, as it were, in 1944 with "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror," a spooky entry but not the best example. in Miss Maven's humble opinion.
For that she goes to "Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Clue."
Holmes and Watson are in Canada at a Psychical Research Conference when Lord William Penrose (Paul Cavanagh) learns of his wife's death in La Mort Rouge at the hands of a local curse of a luminescent fiend.
Sherlock Holmes goes to La Mort Rouge to investigate the mysteriously glowing creature who kills without warning after receiving a letter from the now dead Lady Penrose asking for help.
The character of Lady Penrose is played (if Miss Maven can use the word so loosely since you hardly see her at all) by Gertrude Astor who played Cousin Cecily in the silent version of "The Cat and the Canary."
Miss Maven recommends both of Basil Rathbone's forays as Sherlock Holmes as gottahaves (especially for Halloween!) because of the excellent stories, thrilling atmosphere, always dependable acting and Nigel Bruce's comic relief as Watson in "The Scarlet Claw"!
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