MOVIES, SHERLOCK HOLMES
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Sherlock Holmes Week Day VI: the Holmes-Fire burned out?

We began the week with THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES,  Rathbone’s second outing as Holmes, and considered by many (moi included) to be his best, and maybe even one of the best Holmes movies ever made.  We are going to end it tomorrow with DRESSED TO KILL, his last Holmes outing.

Only seven years separate them, but the artistic and personal gulf for the Baz is massive.  

If you doubt that just look. I mean just run these two films  one after the other. You’ll see what I mean? 

It’s not fair or accurate to say it’s just  the quality of the script and production that have declined (DRESSED TO KILL is actually not that badly written at all).  No, Rathbone himself has changed, and not for the better. THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, (like HOUND, possibly even more so) has a Holmes you could easily believe  needs cocaine to relieve the boredom of daily life. He’s restless and fizzy and always seems to be reining in his speed of thought to let others keep up. His energy and enthusiasm are palpable. He sends an almost joyous vibe off the screen, and it’s contagious; when you watch those first two movies  you  can’t help feeling a little bit joyous too. It’s the feeling you get watching someone who’s exactly where they should be, doing exactly what they were meant to do, and doing it sublimely well.

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, 1939

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, 1939

Now look at DRESSED TO KILL….

DRESSED TO KILL, 1946

This Holmes looks pretty much the same in many ways. A little older and thinner maybe. But when you watch him in action, he’s a Holmes on prescription sedatives.  The fire has gone from his eyes. The spring has left his step. He’s so achingly bored sometimes it almost comes over as  antagonism to everyone he’s acting with. You get the feeling he’s always just on the verge of saying “sorry, I just don’t give a fuck“, and walking off the sound stage.

It’s a shame, because  while the Universal movies weren’t great and could be ass-grindingly terrible sometimes, they were usually...ok, and just  occasionally  they were a lot better than ok. If the Baz had managed to keep his enthusiasm intact the series could only have been better, and by opting out as he did more and more in the later ones, he was only making things worse for himself.

Lucky for us, even at his most totally bored and/or resentful, he could never turn in a dull or mediocre performance, and  he only had to stand there in profile to be the embodiment of Sherlock Holmes.  It’s also true that even in the last movies he could have occasional moments where a bit of the old Holmes-Fire ignited for a moment or two.

There’s even one in his Holmes-movie swansong…

The scene in DRESSED TO KILL where he’s been up all night trying to crack the code of the musical boxes. Watson comes in to find the room thick with pipe smoke and Holmes hunched over his desk surrounded by books and papers, peering at the x-ray of the box-innards that has yielded no answers thus far. Watson, in his usual fashion. stumbles into helping solve everything by talking about how his parents used to number the piano keys to help him learn  to play.

“Numbering the keys!” exclaims Holmes, “the 19th key of the keyboard is the 19th letter of the alphabet…!”

And suddenly the torpor is gone, and for the next few moments, as he proceeds to work out the code while Watson makes notes, there is the real Holmes again; the “perfect Holmes”; energized and vibrant, and brilliant.

And you can’t help indulging in a little bit of “what if…”.

What if Fox hadn’t gone insane and canceled the series, and instead of twelve modern-dress Universal  Rathbone/Holmes movies, we had – say – two or three more Fox period films?

What if  we had a Rathbone  Study in Scarlet  and Sign of Four? Or anything that allowed him to wear the topper and the frock coat and the deer stalker and be lit by gaslight a few more times?

Sigh

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85 Comments

  1. BASIL says

    …..Once you invent your time machine, make sure you take me with you so I can take some of Basils DNA and make a clone of him so we don’t all have to be forever Basil-less!! xD

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  2. milkshake says

    It’s just a tragedy Rathbone was only given two movies of quality. Fox and MGM must have been insane to let that chance go by.

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  3. hideous kinky is back says

    I think he was visibly tired and bored at the end and he rarely seems to be trying, but even so he’s a better Sherlock than most others.

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  4. I don’t think his Holmes fire ever burned out. I think he always had that passion and intensity even when he was getting bored. I don’t think Basil could be mediocre.

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  5. Claudette says

    I find it so sad that mr Rathbone’s extraordinary performance as Sherlock Holmes brought him so little personal happiness. It is a very haunting echo of ACD’s journey. They both “created” the man (I say that of Rathbone a so much we now associate with the classic Holmes began with him), and both ended up detesting him.Has any other actor who played him felt this way?

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  6. Katoodlel Lolly says

    Hey all! Want to know how much of a Basil Rathbone freak I am!
    I went to Sephora (beauty store, for those of you who don’t know) and bought a nail polish, made in the U.K., it is blue and it is called,——–
    Baker Street! So of course, I had to buy it! Will do my nails, watch beloved Baz as Sherlock in bluray- with baker street-blue nail polish- what could be better? LOL! Thanks for reading!

    Like

  7. Denis says

    I was watching a Holmes marathon last night (sad I know), and we watched Sherlock (with Cumberbatch) and then we watched The Hound of the Baskervilles, Spider Woman and Dressed to Kill and I just have to say – the point the article makes is completely true. Between Spider Woman in ’44 and Dressed to Kill in ’46 he changes totally. He loses a lot of weight, he loses all his fire like the article says. His eyes seem dull, not flashing and bright any more. Once you see it it’s totally unavoidable – something happened to him between these dates, I would swear to it. Maybe he got sick in some way he never made public. Or yeah, maybe he was depressed. It’s so obvious though I don’t know how I missed it before. Anyone who has the movies should check it out.

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  8. Neve: I think I can add a little detail to what happened with the Fox situation, based on things I’ve read over the years. 20th originally did plan to do one fairly high budget Holmes film per year, in period settings. They began with The Hound, and when it was a hit they put The Adventures into production. This was because they already owned the rights to William Gillette’s play Sherlock Holmes, which they had filmed (as Fox, before the 20th Century merger) in 1932 with Clive Brook. That earlier film threw out most of the play, and that’s what they did in 1939 as well. At the time, the Doyle estate was run by Doyle’s sons Adrian and Denis, who seem to have been reckless and pretty greedy. Because they got no profits from The Adventures, they insisted that Fox stick with Doyle stories (and that the studio purchase the stories, not just the characters). Fox rightly saw the difficulty of staying faithful to the short stories and the other three problematic novels, and probably didn’t like the Doyles’ attitude much, either. When they dropped their option, Warners announced The Speckled Band, but lots of projects got announced and never made, even back then. A couple of years went by with no Hollywood offers, which must have made Adrian and Denis sweat a bit. By the time Universal came along, they were much more amenable to changes like updating, adapting the stories, etc. As for Rathbone and Bruce, they started a weekly radio series as Holmes and Watson in 1939, and performed faithful versions of almost every story before they began doing originals for four years starting in 1942. Rathbone must have been sick to death of Holmes way before he began the Universal series. Meanwhile I have often wondered if Fox’s The Undying Monster, also from 1942, was a repurposed Holmes project… it has a similar vibe to Hound and Adventures. But yeah, what might have been…

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    • If only the Doyle estate hadn’t been such jerks and Fox had made a half dozen more period Holmes movies. The difference it might have made to Rathbone’s subsequent career hardly bears thinking of.

      Interesting idea about the Undying Monster. I’ve never seen it, but I want to now.

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  10. Mark says

    I always wonder why he signed a contract with Universal at all. He had been freelance for so long what made him change his mind? I agree he does look suddenly tired and bored in the last few films. I wondered if he had been ill. Was he perhaps suffering from a clinical depression?

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    • I read the signing was guranteed income The war years were on and things were lean for him in movies to freelance.He may well have been depressed,especially the years 1944-1946.There was Larry Olivier having such great success on stage and film.i think Henry The Fifth was released in US IN 1945-46.Larry was not even peaking yet.
      Basil’s age was catching up .He was stuck in some B movies etc. I think that was one of his main reasons for leaving for the NY stages.
      He wanted to achive what Larry did before it was too late.I think sadly he could only have done this by staying on the British Stage back in the 20s.

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      • jenny says

        Someone else said he should never have turned his back on the stage the way he did. Other stage actors would make films and then go back to the theatre, why didn’t Basil?

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  11. Ken says

    May I add this thread only emphasises the crying need for a biography of Rathbone. We evidently presently have a fairly partial and possibly misleading impression of him both as man and actor (and no, good God, I don’t mean he was gay!)

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    • Whoa. This thread has 48 comments! I never imagined getting this volume of feedback when I started. And not just volume but quality too. So much amazing information has been coming in! Anna has posted at least two quite bombshell pieces, which were brand new information for me at least, and I’ve also been sent other things privately. I need to take a while to process what to do with it all. A few people have suggested doing posts on Eva LeGallienne or the true reason for the collapse of the Fox/Holmes series (which even David Stuart Davies seems never to have heard before). I’m working a lot of hours atm, but I’ve got a whole week off work next week so I’ll be able to devote some serious time to how to draw all this together.

      Yay! This is getting sooo interesting!

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  12. BazFan says

    This is horrible to see. The Speckled Band is one of the best Holmes stories ever. What possessed the Doyle estate?

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  13. jennythenipper says

    Oh Gosh, this is great. So true. I still have never been able to fathom why Fox canned the series. The first two made a shit ton of money. The excuses I’ve heard are just weird because, hello, MONEY. Make more Holmes movies, make more money. DUH. Anyway, I love the Universal ones in a kitsch kind of way, but I feel your pain, I really do.

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    • AnnaPindurka says

      I have found some interesting info on just that in Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931-1946. I think I’d better just quote from it:
      Fox “…was anxious to exercise their options on the Conan Doyle novels. Their plan called for producing one film a year for an indefinite period with Rathbone and Bruce… Sadly, negotiations broke down with a major sticking point: the Conan Doyle estate insisted that all future scripts must remain faithful to the original stories… Not long after, Warner Bros. expressed interest in announcing their intention to bring ‘The Speckled Band’ to the screen with Rathbone and Bruce… This, too, came to naught…”
      And then, when Universal approached them:
      “…in an apparent turnaround from their stringent demands on Fox, the Conan Doyle estate entered into a contract with the studio in early 1942… for the screen rights to the Sherlock Holmes character…”
      It is an interesting book!

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      • Wow – I have literally never heard this story before! People have been speculating for years about this and here’s the answer. Anna, you are a goldmine thus far 🙂

        So, all that talk about Fox not wanting to do any more Holmes is just hogwash. It’s all the Conan Doyle estate’s fault, damn them! What were they thinkng? Vetoing Fox and Warner’s who wanted to do good period films, and then giving the green light to Universal?

        Ohhhh…only imagine it. One Fox film a year “for an indefinite period!” Or Baz and Nigel in The Speckled Band….

        Verily we must weep and rend our garments

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        • AnnaPindurka says

          Flattering question, must answer this one right away! 🙂
          I am neither, I just got very interested in Basil Rathbone when I watched the Sherlock Holmes films for the first time in my life in February and then read his lovely autobiography. As NeveR says there are some intriguing holes in the story, so I started looking. After checking Marcia’s site, wikipedia and imdb, I went and found some great books on Amazon and downloaded New York Times and London Times reviews of Basil on the stage. I put up some quotes on my tumblr in May and June, this is the link to the archive: http://annapindurka.tumblr.com/archive
          (My favourite of the things I put up there is this priceless comment by a very young Laurence Olivier on seeing Basil in Henry IV in 1921: “Prince Hal. Oh, that magical Prince Hal, the most beautiful male I have ever laid eyes upon. His profile was that of a god, his figure pure Olympiad, his voice the most beautiful instrument I had yet heard, and even his name suggested the utmost in glamorous masculinity – Basil Rathbone.”)

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          • Fred Singer says

            Well congratulations are certainly due you, you certainly seem very talented at finding information.

            The Olivier quote is remarkable. It’s puzzling how absent from the database so many of these terribly informative and meaningful details have been. I agree wholeheartedly with the blog owner and with you in this. Rathbone is astonishingly undocumented for an actor of his stature, and it ought to be rectified before too long.

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            • Ken says

              I second Fred Singer’s opinion, well found Anna. Quite how it’s been in a book and still so “undiscovered” is something of a mystery.

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          • laurence olivier made this statement in his autobiography.when i read it i thought so much of lord olivier.basil was compared to being one of the few actors to be as capable as him on stage and screen.they partied together,but,there is no mention of a friendship between them.

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              • thanks,thats very interesting. was the darling joan plowright? he was involved with her at that time. he went there to escape viviens rath.he was afraid she would cause problems for joan.they were in a play together and he replaced joan for fear of this.he went to new york.

                i often wondered if basil and he got along. they had mutual friendship in ronald colman. i thought that they would not have gotten along working together,because larry was difficult. so they say. he was very close to ralph richardson and off and on they had issues.

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          • Claude Rains says

            I hope it won’t upset Mr Ken if I at this stage point out that Olivier was famously bisexual himself. Isn’t it also true that Rathbone was on close terms with James Agate the homosexual British theatre critic? I think most people would agree that young Rathbone was almost androgynously beautiful and it seems the young Olivier was already drawn to that quality. Of course this doesn’t mean Rathbone was bisexual, but ought it to be ruled out as a possibility?

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            • You mean even though there’s no evidence he was bisexual and never claimed he was bisexual – he still might have been bisexual?

              Well sure, but by the same token he might have been a serial killer or the last Tzar of Russia. All that means is you can’t prove a negative

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              • i think they {larry and basi]l were very attractive ,talented men.larry liked animals and basil loved animals.they enjoyed reading,music ,and the theater.i would have enjoyed meeting both.

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            • Au contraire, it doesn’t upset me at all, only amuses me that you have such a transparent need to see Mr Rathbone as sexually inverted. The man was twice married, the father of two children and the lover – we have recently been informed – of at least one other woman. Like I said – dead horse, but you’re welcome to beat it all you want. 🙂

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              • Claude Rains says

                Perhaps you have a “transparent need” to see men who have become identified with certain cultural icons as 100% heterosexual. Are you denying that Bret has evidence for his conclusion about Flynn and Rathbone? Are you denying there is evident sexual tension between the two men in their screen encounters?

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                • I am most emphatically denying both. I only glanced at Bret’s book, but my recollection is he gave no evidence or source for his salacious allegations about Rathbone at all, other than to quote “rumour”. As the the suggestion there was sexual tension between Rathbone and Flynn I can only respond – says you. Other people might suggest they were simply emoting as befits the part, they were supposed to be rivals after all!

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      • Claude Rains says

        I wonder why this hasn’t been more widely publicized, people are still repeating the story that Fox pulled the plug because of the war, which is just not true

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  14. Lava Lamp Princess says

    Basil Rathbone was one sexy Sherlock! Those eyes. They’re undressing every woman he looks at. Unf

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    • Billy Connolly's Watch 2 says

      Not at all. The information is in Pauline Bruce’s interview that was published along with extracts from her father’s biography. There are copies to be found several places online.

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      • yes,read parts of nigels memoirs but,so sad his family will not publish the entire biography.i heard his daughter passed on now .

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  15. Cameroooooooooooon says

    I always wondered why Basil quit in the way he did. I read somewhere his friendship with Bruce ended forever, is that true? Is there a record of why, since it seems extreme to end a friendship over terminating a contract. Basil had done the shows for six years which seems a decent amount of time.

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    • Billy Connolly's Watch says

      Pauline Bruce, Nigel’s daughter said it was done badly but I don’t think she explains what she means by that

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  16. Fred Singer says

    I never agreed with those that say the Universal films are qualitatively inferior. Roy William Neill was quite an artist with the camera and he used innovations in his approach that were quite beyond the imaginative grasp of a Lanfield or a Werker who were both stodgy workmanlike directors. If Neill had directed the two Fox offerings I think they would only have been better for it.

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    • i agree with above.i read somrwhere before neill died, unexpectantly in england,he was in contact with basil to make another holmes film.the movie was supposedly to be made over there where he got funding.possibly alexander kordas influence?

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    • The only person to say so was David Bret in a very bad and tasteless book, and so far as I know he gave absolutely no source for it.

      So, the answer is – no.

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        • Ok, I just read the thread you linked to and it doesn’t say any such thing. The OP said some of his friends said he may have felt guilty toward his wife, but he doesn’t link it in any way with the allegations of homosexuality. In fact he says he never heard any suggestion Rathbone was gay, and says Bret’s book is salacious and relies on gossip. Which it does.

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          • Claude Rains says

            But the question would then be what WAS motivating the guilt? So far as I know Rathbone was never linked with any woman throughout his marriage. And the alleged possibility of a front-marriage with Eve Le Galliene in the 1920’s also ties in with the possibility he was gay. I am not claiming it as fact but I think Bret has been unfairly disparaged perhaps. He did speak to people who knew Rathbone.

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            • Ken says

              Hold on – who said he was feeling guilty at all? Wasn’t that some speculation in itself? I haven’t seen anything to suggest Rathbone was other than a happily married heterosexual man. Is there any reason not to leave it there?

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            • AnnaPindurka says

              Annoying Miss Pindurka from the library again to add to that earlier conversation.
              There is an outstanding biography of Eva Le Gallienne available, it is by Helen Sheehy, who had access to all her papers, diaries, letters. The book is just a joy, for me particularly because of the several mentions of Basil in absolutely glowing terms. But the bit relating to your suggestion is this: “It was rare for a man to excite Le Gallienne’s ardor, but she was attracted to Rathbone on every level – sexually, artistically, and spiritually. She adored his ‘long aristocratic legs,’ his gentle nature, and they shared artistic aspirations… At one point, Eva contemplated marrying Basil and having his child. Their relationship ended, according to Le Gallienne, when she overheard Rathbone telling other members of the company that he was sleeping with her. Later, she always referred to Rathbone as ‘my Basil’ and would say that he was the only man that she could have married.”

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              • StencilWoman says

                Good lord – I have been a fan of his for thirty years and I never found so much new biographical info about Basil Rathbone anywhere as on this blog in the last week! He was Eva LeGallienne’s lover! Was this before he met Ouida? I presume so?

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                • AnnaPindurka says

                  Definitely before they married, they may have met socially beforehand, I’m not sure about the dates there. There is this nice bit about this in the biography of Eva:
                  “Sometimes, though, she yearned for the road not taken. When Eva was playing in The Call of Life, she heard that Basil Rathbone had married Ouida Bergere. In a letter to her mother she said, ‘I still call him “my” Basil because I know that he really is. I miss him – but most particularly in Work I miss him (because after all that must be most vital to me). It is so hard to play with just a lot of ordinary actors, after playing with him.’ “

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                  • Baz Fan says

                    Oh Gosh this is so beautiful! It really sounds as if she was a bit besotted with him. Is there any information anywhere about how he felt about her? I suppose he simply fell head over heels with Ouida and that was that.

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                    • AnnaPindurka says

                      Nothing on that in the Le Gallienne biography. Basil mentions in his autobiography the production of The Swan with Eva that made him a star in America but considers it important mostly because he met Ouida at around that time. Yet (if I got this right), the tour where his affair with Eva takes place is after that date. And he was still married at the time to his first wife: “Be it said on Marion’s behalf that maybe she was waiting to see if this time I was really serious. From previous experience she had every reason to doubt it!”
                      Marcia commented back in July (with the Marlene Dietrich photo) that Basil was quite a flirt.
                      Can’t wait for that new biography…

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                • AnnaPindurka says

                  Oh, do! Helen Sheehy is great, perceptive and wise. When I said earlier that it was a joy to read that book I meant only that I admired its author for producing such a great biography: Eva Le Gallienne’s life had more than its share of disappointments, although you come away admiring that brave little woman, so impossible to pigeonhole.

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              • Claude Rains says

                Was it specifically stated by LeGallienne that she and Rathbone were physical lovers?

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                • AnnaPindurka says

                  The biographer says so specifically (“They became lovers.”), a couple of sentences before the bit I quoted.

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                • Ken says

                  I think the theory of Rathbone’s homosexuality is now officially a dead horse 🙂

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                  • Claude Rains says

                    I think that would be a tad simplistic. Bisexual men have existed before. Flynn was one, perhaps Rathbone was another. I think any unbiased person would agree there is an almost sexual tension between them in most of their on-screen pairings. I for one would not think less of either man if they had enjoyed each other sexually, would you?

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              • Barb Edwards says

                Perhaps the blog owner could devote some space to Eva LeGallienne? She seems to have been very meaningful in Rathbone’s life.

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  17. Denise says

    I have definitely read something about this on line. Have you tried Brett’s fansite?

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  18. Ken says

    I think it was in an issue of Scarlet Street, but I can’t find it in any of the back numbers.

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  19. Barb Edwards says

    What an intelligent article. I hope you do as you say and write more about his life. There is so little information to be found on line. Has there ever been a serious biography? I haven’t found one since I began my quest for things Rathbonian

    Like

  20. AnnaPindurka says

    Hi, great to have your blog! I found two interesting things on this subject, one is a sentence in a great little review of The Hound:

    http://www.boxofficeprophets.com/moviereviews/houndofthebaskervilles.asp:

    “…although the actor eventually felt as trapped by Sherlock as Holmes’ creator did, there’s no denying that Rathbone phoning in the part (which he unfortunately did in a few of the films) still provides a far more compelling performance than many a thespian who has attempted to portray the world’s first – and arguably most famous – consulting detective.” (By the way, the same reviewer also writes about the Flirting Widow, which I have just seen and found really sweet – Basil is the romantic hero and it is a comedy.)

    And then there is this original 1939 letter up for sale on ebay (for 9 thousand dollars!) (http://www.ebay.com/itm/BASIL-RATHBONE-AUTOGRAPH-LETTER-SIGNED-07-26-1939-/300257320621?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item45e8bb1ead#ht_1563wt_1143),
    in which Basil complains how knackered he is and says: “I find that making motion pictures interferes most abonimably (sic) with my leisure, my music & my self!”

    Not necessarily an explanation for what you comment on, but seems very interesting nevertheless!

    Like

    • Welcome Anna – and what an awesome find you made in that letter! he actually talks about The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I really want to feature the photocopy at Ebay in a post.

      The more I read about Rathbone – and I’ve been getting all sorts of kind people dropping me tidbits since I started this site – I am getting the impression of a lot of complexity in his life that never made it into his autobiography. Holmes must have gotten to him somehow. I don’t think it was simply boredom to be honest. Am I right in thinking there’s a Jeremy Brett interview where he discusses the parallels between himself and Rathbone and their relationship with Holmes?

      BTW – do you have a link to the Flirting Widow review? 🙂

      Like

      • AnnaPindurka says

        Thanks!
        This is the link to the Flirting Widow review: http://www.boxofficeprophets.com/column/index.cfm?columnID=8310
        I am not aware of the Jeremy Brett interview, but I am relatively new to the fandom, there is still so much for me to find out, it was the recent BBC Sherlock that first got me interested. Which reminds me: here is a short bit from an interview with Benedict Cumberbatch in which he talks about Brett and Rathbone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd0Z5NHp79Y.

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        • Love that Benedict interview. He’s an intelligent and thoughtful guy, bless him. I see he mentions Brett being “taken over”, and that chimes in with what I recall of the interview with him in which he compares himself to Baz. He said something about Holmes being a curse and how Rathbone’s career was wrecked by it or something. Wish I could remember where I saw it – if anyone does drop me a line!

          Sweet review of The Flirting Widow. She’s right Baz was awful pretty in those early movies, but I’m afraid I almost prefer him a little older and world-weary. He was less of a pretty boy but sexier somehow.

          Like

    • Billy Connolly's Watch says

      I tried to see this letter but nothing cam up. I would love to know what it says, can you possibly post the content?

      Like

      • AnnaPindurka says

        I can still find it, and I have copied out the seller’s description, they introduce and transcribe the letter.

        BASIL RATHBONE. ALS: “Cordially/Basil Rathbone”, 2p, 7¼x10½. Universal Studios, 1939 July 26. To Mr. Monteux describing long hours on the set of his first Sherlock Holmes film, The Hound of the Baskervilles. In part: “I was working at Fox 20th Century on ‘Sherlock Holmes’ until 7 & 8 pm every night & then without so much as one days (sic) vacation I had to come over here & start on ‘Rio’ – I am writing to you sitting out on the back lot in the Brazilian Swamps with a weeks (sic) growth of beard & filthy from head to foot! (I am escaping from a Penal Colony to return to my wife who is in the arms of another man!). I am grateful for so much work, but tired, & most regretfully at not onl having not only not seen you but also not having been to The Bowl once yet this season…I find that making motion pictures interferes most abonimably (sic) with my leisure, my music & my self! I wonder if Mrs Monteux’s sister ever received the photograph of Sherlock Holmes she asked for & that I sent her….” British actor BASIL RATHBONE (1892-1967) was Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the first of 14 screen appearances as Conan Doyle’s master detective (he also played Holmes on radio from 1939-1946). This film and Rio, which he mentions in this letter (Rathbone starred as Paul Reynard opposite Sigrid Gurie as his wife, Irene), were two of the six films that he made in 1939. Mr. Monteux was most likely French-American conductor PIERRE MONTEUX (1875-1964) who became conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1936. “The Bowl” was the Hollywood Bowl, site of frequent concerts. Lightly shaded at left and right margins on first page. Fine condition.

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  21. BuenaV says

    If I could pick one performance of Baz as Holmes to take to my desert island it would be his turn in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The chemistry between him and Ida Lupino is very good.

    Like

    • Lupino left a brief recollection of her work on the film. As I recall she said she used to call Rathbone “Basil Bathrug” 🙂

      Like

  22. Ben Evans says

    I like Dressed to Kill best of all the universals. And I think something should be said about Roy William Neill’s direction. He coaxes a much more laid back naturalistic style out of Rathbone, and perhaps that gets mistaken for boredom or lethargy?

    Like

    • Agreed actually. Mousie Neill had a bit of a way with the camera, and Rathbone’s style had become much more naturalistic by the end of the Holmes run. I enjoy some ofh is later performance immensely. But I don’t think it’s possible to deny he was bored.

      Like

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