About this blog

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This blog is about the movie star and definitive Sherlock Holmes – Basil Rathbone.  A man who has legitimate claim to being one of the greatest and definitely most enigmatic actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

And perhaps also the most underrated – by his peers, and most crucially, by himself.

I’ve been a fan of the Baz since I was a kid and watched the Universal Sherlock Holmes movies on TV.  Other girls liked George Clooney and Orlando Bloom. I liked Basil Rathbone, who was old enough to be my great grandfather – and also dead.

I’m not sure what the fascination was/is. I mean he’s obviously incredibly handsome in that chiseled thirties way, but it’s not as simple as that. Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn were beautiful too, but while I love them, they don’t draw me to them the way Basil Rathbone does.

I think  it might be that I sense something tragic in him . A kind of lost  poignancy hangs round his memory  like little whisps of Universal mist. Perhaps that appeals to the Gothic in me.

The tragedy is, I suppose, that famous and fabulous  as he was, he could have been so much more than he was allowed to be.

I mean this is a man who had almost everything going for him –  talent, intelligence, classical theatre-training, and movie-star looks thrown in. In 1929 he was poised, like Olivier ten years later,  on the brink between being a succesful classical actor and becoming a great movie star, and there seems no reason why, like Olivier, and others such as Fredric March and John Barrymore, he couldn’t have ended up being both. He had just starred in The Last of Mrs Cheyney opposite Norma Shearer, who was then the  Queen of Hollywood. The movie was a success, Rathbone was obviously gorgeous and talented, moreover he was blessed with a beautiful modulated classsical actor’s voice, which, in 1929, two year after the first talking picture was like gold dust in the movie industry. He was in the right place at the right time and he had what it took to succeed.tumblr_mdlv9n160d1rlooxjo1_r1_400

But inexplicably, rather than being the great beginning it should have been,  in some ways The Last of Mrs Cheyney was the start of his slow, strange decline. Yes he was to make some immortal films in the next twenty years, but he would be the top-billed star in very few. And at the same time his stage career that had seen him play everything from Romeo to Iago, from Jack Worthing to  Judas Iscariot also began to languish due to his ‘exile’ in the film colony.

By 1947 – when he was only 55 and still well in his prime as an actor – his career in both media was effectively past any chance of glory, apart from a few last sparks and the great swansong of The Heiress. But even there he was, inexplicably, passed over for the movie in favor of Ralph Richardson, a fine actor, but  a far less famous or charismatic screen-presence. Why? Go figure. But it was almost par for the course in the Baz’s  strange career. Looking at the things he could have done but never did, it almost seems as if his bosses were  uniquely blind to what they had in him.

Yes, it’s the hint of tragically unfulfilled genius in Basil Rathbone that appeals to me almost as much as his splendidness. The fact he knew what he had and what was being wasted, but was powerless inside the studio system; the increasing  and inflammatory resentment and bitterness in him as his talent became reduced to formulae; horror and swashbuckling, swashbuckling and horror – and of course Holmes. We have to see his rants against Sherlock, so shocking to those of us who grew up loving him in this role, as being a part of the desperate restlesness of a brilliant and versatile performer forced to endure what felt like – and sort of was in real terms – a kind of slow death of his  creative energies. It’s not as if he could even retire. Ouida and her  legendary ‘lifestyle’ made that impossible.

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What really keep me coming back to this is the lack of an obvious explanation.  Why did Olivier, March, Barrymore, become movie stars and princes of the stage while Rathbone missed the first, lost the second and so quickly became enmeshed in second billing and type-casting, and ended his career doing cheap horror flicks? He never belonged with Karloff and Lugosi in the “monster-movie has-been” bin; he had been classically trained with Benson, had played Stratford. Why had not only Hollywood, but his mother-theatre also apparently deserted him?

I guess I’ve always wanted to look for answers to that question, but more importantly I also want to do the impossible and rewrite the past, give Mr R back the greatness he nearly had but lost while still in his prime.

Ok, I know I can’t actually do that, but maybe I can do a little bit of it by celebrating him and his still wonderful achievements, while also reminding myself of what we all lost.

I dunno, it’s my rationale anyway.

NR

77 Comments

  1. nancy carter says

    Wow! I never thought I would ever see a blog about Basil Rathbone. This is great!
    I am 56 years old and have loved Basil since high school when I first read Sherlock Holmes and started watching the shows on late nite T.V. I was obsessed with him then but of course life happens and you forget about it. This weekend I saw The Adventures of Robin Hood for the millionth time and got curious about how old he was when he
    made that film so I started looking on the net for stuff and it led me here. I found out
    stuff I never knew and saw photos I’d never seen. This is awesome! I’m so glad to know
    that he is not forgotten and people of other generations are still discovering him and his
    great work in movies and television. Thank you for taking time to research and write
    about this great actor and human being.

    Nancy

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  2. [edited by NeveR for inappropriate content and general trolling; which unfortunately leaves it blank] 😀

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  3. I’ve been an admirer of Mr. Rathbone for almost 50 years. I first started reading Sherlock Holmes at nine, and my father introduced me to the Rathbone-Bruce films on the late show. Once he saw I was hooked on Rathbone, then it was a Sunday afternoon showing of Robin Hood…and on it went. I did all my research on BR decades ago, prowling around the reference sections in any library I could get to, where I also found his autobiography. Ironically, after all these years it’s only now that I’m starting to explore online about him; and sadly, finding out things I might not have wanted to know.

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    • Basil Rathbone is a war hero. Not in ww2 but in ww1, when the most despicable disregard for human life was ever displayed in our history (in my opinion)
      Nigle Bruce was shot 12 times in the same war. (so far as I know)

      So……we can judge these two?

      And yes I do know that even more disrespect to life was displayed in WW2 but this was led by a lunatic who preyed on fear and eradication on those who were different.

      Basil fought for his country and so did Nigel………. What in the name of heaven do these two have to do before we can simply show respect to them.

      Basil might have had an affair…… So lets judge him on that?

      No, lets rip him apart instead. Let us leave him without dignity because we simply want to know about some girl who might, or might not, have understood who he was.

      Please, leave this guy alone, leave him, and her, in mystery. ( if there is one)

      (This is only my opinion, not in any way meant, or intent, on hurting another. If I cannot air and defend my views on BR, then what is this site about?)

      And I would ask the Moderator please do not post this if you, or the community will get up in arms again. This is not my purpose. BR cannot be confined, anymore that any other life ever lived on this Earth, can be. Where along the way were we given judgement of anyone?

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      • @JT – It seems to me that you are the most judgmental poster here. More concerned with telling others what they are doing wrong than contributing anything. This isn’t your soapbox and it’s not an open forum. It’s my blog. If you don’t like the way I do things then leave, start your own blog if you want to, and if you want to keep having your comments approved please start joining in the discussion rather than disrupting it to tell people what’s wrong with their approach. This is your final warning.

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      • JT, we want to understand who Basil really was, what kind of man he really was. That’s not judging. I actually have MORE respect for him after realizing the sacrifices he made.

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      • Roberta says

        Yes JT, why not focus on the other subjects under discussion, like who is who in that photo. If you like Basil enough to keep coming here then let’s hear what you think about him? We are very friendly people and would love to hear what you have to say 😀

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  4. GRETCHEN says

    NICE use of vocab’ there, Larry! 🙂

    I really like that word, “dynamism”…and, the way you mention Basil’s “theatrically filmic presence”.

    I KNOW what you mean— he had this special “thing” about him, which even on film is noticeable; and, it sort of DRAWS-ONE-IN to him. I think that’s what made me so intrigued with him in the FIRST place. (He wasn’t an INTIMIDATING person, however, ’cause he always seemed so warm and easy to approach and talk to.) His friend Vincent Price had that very SAME essence surrounding him…a somewhat “aura-like”, invisible attraction-cloud that makes you just WANT to know this person (and give him a BIG, cuddly-hug!).

    It’s SO COOL you got to meet Basil…I can only WISH I’d been that lucky!! 🙂

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  5. Larry CLifton says

    Having met ‘the Baz’ when I was a teen, shortly before his death, I can tell you he was as charismatic and unique as he was in films Regardless of his movies, either before he became star or before the end, he had a peerless dynamism and classical style. It was a sort of theatrically filmic presence that seemed to transcend the circumstance itself, made so by his physical and vocal prowess. Anyway, I wish you luck in the biography, and I folow your fine work. I am unable to help now, but I happily await your works.

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  6. This is a cool idea for a blog. I did not realize Basil Rathbone had so many fans. I remember seeing him in ‘The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini’. I like young people who are into older movies and actors. It makes them more sophisticated.

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    • Thanks. When I started this blog I thought I’d get maybe ten followers – mostly my friends or fellow geeks. I never imagined we’d get over 1,000 followers and like 300+ visitors a day. I think old time stars must be cool atm. Nerd cool anyway 🙂

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  7. Hi Gretchen! I picked up on your comment, “I tend to attach myself emotionally to people with difficult, painful lives, because I’m somehow able to “read” them just by looking at them— even on film. So, of course I spiritually picked-up on Basil.” It’s interesting because the public image of Rathbone has been that he had a successful career and a happy marriage. For the most part, it’s been only recently that we’ve uncovered evidence of his pain and tragic life. It’s amazing that you could sense his pain when no one else could! (At least I didn’t. I was clueless.)

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    • I concur. I always felt BR had a sense of “tragedy” about him, but I figured that was to do with his massively failed later career. I had no clue about his personal unhappinesses or how monstrous Ouida seems to have been until Marcia and I began uncovering a few things. Your instincts must be good. 🙂

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      • GRETCHEN says

        Actually, I DIDN’T know anything about the details of Basil or Vincent’s lives when I was younger…I just REALLY liked them a LOT, and had a feeling there must be a reason WHY. I’m able to sort-of “know” stuff, somehow. Like, I’m psychic, or something. It’s kind-of hard to explain…

        At the time I was 5, I’d ONLY seen Vincent in movies where he was “the BAD guy”, yet while watching “House of Wax” one day, I thought to myself: “I FEEL that he is a Christian, possibly even a Catholic (like me)…and, that he is a gentle and loving person, too. But, how will I EVER know for sure?” 16 years later, I read a book about his life, and found-out I was RIGHT! He’d been raised Episcopalian, but converted to Catholisism in 1974, the year BEFORE I was born . How could I possibly have KNOWN that? And, of course, he WAS a gentle, sweet guy.

        A few weeks before X-mas last year, I was thinking: “GEE, it sure would be interesting to know if BASIL was ever psychic, or had any experiences like I’ve had during MY life, but how would I EVER find-out about THAT??” (I’m sensitive to knowing when someone is going to die, has just died, or to the souls of those already dead…weird, but TRUE.) While visiting friends/family out-of-state during the holidays, I was using my “Nintendo DSI XL” handheld game-player to look-up stuff online when I was bored…and found a site about Basil. There were photos of his handwritten war-letters, which I read, and discovered—
        HE’D FELT STRONGLY THAT HIS BROTHER WAS ABOUT TO DIE, AND HAD A VISION OF IT IN A DREAM, THE LAST TIME HE SAW HIM, ONLY A WEEK OR TWO BEFORE HE WAS KILLED IN BATTLE. PLUS, THE EXACT MOMENT JOHN DIED, BASIL SUDDENLY KNEW IT HAD HAPPENED, AND BEGAN CRYING.

        How did I know…AGAIN?? So I said: “thanks Baz, for telling me what happened to you.” Boy, what a great guy! It’s like he was LISTENING, or something, and ANSWERED me. (At LEAST that last time he and John were together, they were able to enjoy a drink, and some laughs…Basil even watched his brother sleeping, to make sure he was still breathing, after waking-up from his fortelling dream that night.)

        This kind-of stuff happens to me, ALL the time. I just mentioned a FEW pertinent stories, but there are MANY more.
        STRANGE, HUH??

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        • GRETCHEN says

          ANOTHER reason I was happy to find Basil’s war-letters last year, was because I’d been wondering for SEVERAL years about the COMPLETE details of his war-experience, which were not disclosed on ANY of the sites I’d seen in the past…only a somewhat VAGUE account of his having served in some capacity, and a few exerpts of a story or two. I wanted to KNOW if he had seen frontline battle, or had ever taken a life, and how his experiences may have negatively-affected him because of his possible trauma. THESE LETTERS ANSWERED ALL MY QUESTIONS…He HAD been on the front for 2 years, DID take at least one life, and suffered with PTSD. I was SAD, but It felt good FINALLY knowing more about this dear person’s life-story, BECAUSE HE MATTERED.

          SECONDLY, I’d read about Basil and Ouida’s relationship on basilrathbone.net (back in 2000), which told of how supposedly LOVING it was…yet I’d ALSO read on that site and others, how she’d spent ALL his money. For YEARS, this seemed WAY too conflicting— it just didn’t make SENSE to me…and, being the DETECTIVE I am, I wanted to find-out what had REALLY been going-on. I TRIED to believe that perhaps she was just ADDICTED to shopping and a high-end lifestyle, and had actually LOVED Basil. BUT, I also had a feeling that, with the OTHER details of how he put-up with what she did, there may have been a narcissist/co-dependent relationship happening here. After coming upon your blog a few DAYS ago, I’ve discovered THE LATTER IS TRUE…RATS!! 😦

          OH, WELL…it’s nice to know I’m TUNED-IN to people’s psychological disorders, at least. (Not that that’s a GOOD thing!) What really STINKS, is that he suffered through WWI, then suffered the rest of his LIFE stuck in a CRUMMY marriage— NOT FAIR! I’m HOPING BIG-TIME that he THOUGHT he was HAPPY, and enjoyed her companionship in SPITE of what she did to him. Then I’d feel better, knowing he’d had a GOOD life, even though it was kind-of FAKE!! I also hope that he made HER happy too, somehow! 🙂

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  8. GRETCHEN says

    THE BAZ TOTALLY ROOOOOCKS!!!
    (Both the site, AND the guy…Sir Guy, actually. Tee-Hee!) 🙂

    Gotta LUV that Baz…I’ve been watching him (and his best-bud Vincent Price) since I was literally a BABY. Even in my high-chair, I always enjoyed seeing their movies the most, and loved them deeply as people, too. (I’m majorly-empathic.) I didn’t know Basil’s name until I was 13 or 14, however, for some reason. I finally asked my movie-buff older brother what “that guy’s name was” one day, while we were watching a classic Baz film on TV, like “The Magic Sword”, or something. (That’s one of my all-time faves…especially when Baz points into the fire and that goofy “magic” sound effect goes, “WUUH”!! Super-funny! His wizard-TV is pretty cool, too!) Anyhow, so I’d SEEN his name in the credits of his films my whole life, but had no idea who the name belonged to until then…I didn’t pay much attention to that stuff. I tend to attach myself emotionally to people with difficult, painful lives, because I’m somehow able to “read” them just by looking at them— even on film. So, of course I spiritually picked-up on Basil (and Vincent) right-off. Anytime any movie on EARTH that had them in it was playing on TV, I HAD to watch it, even if it was totally lame, because THEY were in it! You probably understand this compulsion, or you wouldn’t be on this blog right now.

    I pretty-much love anything with Basil…like chicken!
    That was SUPER-DUMB…

    The “Robin Hood” movie is one of my favorites, except that Baz always has to die at the end— BOO-HOO!! I hate it when the bad guy gets it every time! In that scene, if you watch closely, you’ll notice how well-played Errol’s facial expression is, as he is forced to take the life of this person he kind-of likes, and has been messin’ with in good fun throughout the whole movie. You can see in his eyes a sorrow at having to kill Baz, almost like he was his buddy, in a way, and he hates to see him go. It’s sad. I always wished Sir Guy had just made-up with Robin over who gets the chick, and be friends, already!

    In “Cassanova’s Big Night”, there’s a “double-dose” of goodness, with both Basil AND Vincent playing together with Bob Hope (who’s also GREAT in this). Too bad they only have small parts in the film…but, what they do is hilarious! The alternate-endings are a great twist, as well.

    I like watching those reruns of Basil’s old Sherlock Holmes movies on the late-nite cinema, sometimes, at 3 am…you know what I’m talkin’ about. That one where they try to hypnotize him always has this calming-effect on me! ZZZZZZZ……

    A lesser-known film Baz was in that I really like, is called: “Heartbeat”. It stars Ginger Rogers as this homeless orphan girl who goes to Basil’s “how to pickpocket” class, and ends-up falling in love with the dude she’s supposed to rob at some ball at a palace. Basil is pricelessly-witty in his few minutes onscreen— like when she first meets him to apply for a “job”, and he tests her honesty by leaving a large bill on his desk, and sneaking away to watch what she does…just as he thinks she’s reaching for it and he’s smiling-away at the thought that she’d be perfect for his secret “class”, he confronts her for stealing it, only to find that she took the APPLE instead, ’cause she was really hungry; and he’s all DISAPPOINTED looking! It’s pretty cute, and funny.

    Basil was in some other neat movies besides these, like the “Comedy of Terrors” with pals Vincent, Boris, and Peter. He was good at comedy, as well as the serious stuff. I liked the fact that at the end everyone gets-up and is fine, and Vincent’s the one who’s dying…total irony! And then Boris heads upstairs complaining that “nothing ever happens around here”, and then says “see ya in the mornin'”, just as Vincent falls over, dead. That was great!! Of course, who can forget Mr. Black’s “what place is THIS??”, and that axe-wielding scene that leads to his catalepsy seizure-thing…again! And for the EXTRA cream on top, Baz’s overly-played, amazingly-unrealistic death-scene…again! I liked Rhubarb the cat, best— NOT!! (And when Vincent’s wife is trying to get all sexy with him and he goes, “yer sittin’ on my money!”…CLASSIC.)

    My favorite scene that Basil EVER did fencing, was in “The Mark of Zorro”. He is at his peak both physically and sexually, and is SO fast— and, it’s not sped-up, either! It blows me away, every time.

    He’s good in his small role in “We’re No Angels”, with Humphrey Bogart and Charles Laughton, too. He actually plays such an enormous JERK that you almost WANT that snake to bite him!

    The BEST BAZ MOVIE EVER MADE, that I LOVE, is “The Court Jester”. It’s also got Danny Kaye and John Carradine, so you can’t miss! My whole family loooooves this movie, and we know it by heart. There’s a great sword-fighting scene in it, in which Danny is way better than even Baz! (I learned that Danny was a quick-study at everything— singing, dancing, and fencing. He was taught by some Olympic fencer-dude, who thought he was good enough after one lesson that he could be in the Olympics!) Basil is PURE AWESOMENESS in this film. When Danny is doing the graduated laugh-part, the song scene in front of everyone, and one of the dialogues, you can see Baz standing to the side or seated in the background, trying not to start giggling. It’s sooo precious! And, whenever he says “get-it, got-it, good”, or “snaps” Danny in or out of his trance during the swordfight, I burst-out laughing every time. When Danny’s drinking out of the pitcher while perfectly-timing every move— without seeing Basil while doing it, that’s AMAZING. The part where Basil cuts-off the candle and goes “ha!”, and then Danny waves his sword and nothing happens— and then he blows and ALL the candles fall over and he goes “ha-HA!”…that’s PURE GENIUS.

    I also enjoyed him as a guest on those old ’50s TV comedy shows, like with Milton Berle. He was really good at camping-it-up, and laughing at himself.

    Now, as for Basil’s CRUMMY films…I like them, TOO!!

    The one that’s so sad and difficult (although still somewhat cute) to watch, is “Ghost in the Invisible Bikini”, which also stars Boris Karloff. (I haven’t seen the “Hillbilly-Haunted-House” one yet, but it’s probably just as bad.) Vincent also had trouble saying “no” when asked to do some of his turkey-pictures, like “Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl-Bombs”, but the difference is that when I watch those, I can laugh, because he was having a good-time making them, for fun. When I see Basil in an almost slapstick preschooler-mentality goof like this, I’m embarrassed for him. It took a GREAT amount of humility and guts for him to “act” in this movie, and others like it. These were the bottom-of-the-barrel films that I know he ONLY made because he needed to pay the rent and to feed his family— and his wife’s extravagant shopping addiction!! He must’ve really felt desperate by then. It truly hurts to see him making a fool of himself in movies with such bad-taste and disrespect towards an awesome actor like Basil. It hurts even MORE knowing that when he died, there wasn’t even enough money to pay for his funeral and burial, and his friends had to help-out with the cost. I read about this online over 10 years ago, and it still kills me every time I think about it. Poor Basil…LITERALLY.

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    • GRETCHEN says

      OOPS!!
      When mentioning “We’re No Angels” in the above comment, I accidentally wrote Charles Laughton when I MEANT to put Peter Ustinov…SORRY ’bout that!

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  9. T. Angela says

    Ha ha I can completely identify with your self descript. I was drooling over dear Basil when my g/fs were pinning pics pf Starsky and Hutch on their walls.But now it’s becoming nerd-cool to like the old stars.

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      • Oh yeah, you just described me ten years ago. Except One Direction were still in diapers back then. It’s way more fun being minority though. Except you get labeled a hipster. Because most people need labels 🙂

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        • GRETCHEN says

          Eeeewww!!! I HATE those lame-o “boy-bands” that seem to re-appear EVERY decade, like a recurrent DISEASE! 😡

          In the late ’80s/early ’90s, it was: “The New Kids On The Block”……then, in the late ’90s/early 2000s, it was: “The Backstreet Boys”……NOW, its: “One Direction”—YUCK!! It’s like they just keep finding a bunch of teenage “Justin Beibers” every 10-12 years, throw them together, and call it a “group”. 😮

          When all the OTHER girls in the universe were into these so-called “bands”, I was listening to “The Beatles”…at least they had TALENT!! (That, and they weren’t annoying as HECK to watch/hear perform—they ALSO never “out-grew” their popularity over the years, remaining in “obscurity” for the rest of their lives, either!) 😉

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          • BASIL says

            I like the Beatles! Strawberry fields is one of my favourites! 🙂
            I think the only song that’s big right now I actually LIKE is ‘What does the fox say?’
            I mainly listen to vocaloid and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and if I’m not listening to them I’m listening to Helen Kane! xD

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  10. rubiline89 says

    I love this blog already! I wondered why he never hit “the big time” but always loved him in the typecast roles… There’s just something about him.

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    • Roberta says

      Welcome rubilin89! I found this site just a few weeks ago,and I’ve become a bit of an addict! There absolutely is “something about him” I agree, and when I began watching him as Holmes I too wondered why he had never become a romantic lead!

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  11. dumpy wench says

    I am in heaven that I found a blog about the luscious Basil! Agree with everything you say.

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  12. BananaRama says

    I have always thought he was tragic too. I don’t know why, just a look in his eyes as if there was some deep deep sadness in him he couldn’t express.

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  13. rosebette says

    You certainly defy the cliche that people who love old movie stars are geeky, isolated, and unattractive. Although I must admit my crush started at 13 when I was … geeky, isolated, and unattractive. Rathbone made being smart cool and sexy. My other crush, Errol Flynn was just….cool and sexy, but he broke my heart when I later learned about his life.

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    • I’m gonna suggest “geeky, isolated and unattractive” for my film class motto 🙂 Seriously, though, I am a world-class geek. My only social salvation lies in the fact that Geek is the new Cool. (yes, fellow-neeks (geek/nerds) make the most of it while you can; your sweat pants and lily white complexions, your cardigans and massive specs are now chic!)

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    • BASIL says

      I’m….geeky…isolated (sorta…)……and unattractive……O_O YOU KNOW WHO I AM !? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY!?

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        • BASIL says

          I’m considering asking my parents for a T-shirt that says: I ♥ Basil Rathbone
          for my birthday! (Or just a shirt with Nigel Bruces face printed on it. You’ve got to love that Nigel Bruce!)

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          • GRETCHEN says

            Basil—you should MAKE one! 🙂

            I used to design and paint neat stuff on shirts ALL the time, but mostly in the ’90s. In high school, I put “Ren and Stimpy”, “Mickey Mouse”, and other various cartoon-characters, on T-shirts. In college, I decorated my oceanography professor’s white lab-coat with sea-creatures, done in washer-safe acrylic paints…she liked it SO much, she asked me to help her surprise 2 other teachers at my school with similar painted lab-coats, for their “career-anniversary” parties. They LOVED them, too! 🙂

            The idea of a “nerd/geek” shirt is cute…I’m a TOTAL NERD-GEEK!! (But, without the glasses…and, I’m kind-of attractive.) I hope Neve designs some COOL “The Baz” shirts for her new “Baz-Store” she has at “cafepress.com”…how about one that says: “Baz-geek”? 😉

            If you want to know HOW to decorate a shirt, it’s pretty EASY:

            First, you should buy ULTRA low-priced T-shirts and sweatshirts at a thrift-shop, to begin with; so if you mess-up, it doesn’t matter. Another benefit to purchasing used clothing, is that it’s ALREADY pre-shrunk (from washing/drying), and the paint won’t “wrinkle” after laundering. When you get better at it, you can use NEW shirts (always wash and dry them BEFORE decorating!). Try to use only LIGHT colored clothing—pastel colors, grey, and white. This way, your designs won’t be too hard to see, and you don’t have to use TONS of paint—this is a BIG mistake…you’ll have a “stiff”, thick design, which will stick to itself and crumple-up, after washing/drying.

            TIP: When laundering your painted shirts, NEVER use “hot” water to wash, or a “high-heat” setting to dry! It can cause the paint to become “tacky”, or even to crack, and “peel” off. Wash in either “cold” or “warm” water, and on “low-heat” when drying, or AIR-DRY.

            I prefer to use acrylic paint because it’s somewhat inexpensive, and is water-soluble when wet, so you can mix it as thick or thin as you’d like—then, when dry, it’s completely WATERPROOF, like plastic. It won’t fade-out after washing, and lasts for YEARS. But, you can use the pre-mixed “fabric paints” found at most craft-stores, too. While the paint is still wet, you can sprinkle fine glitter on it, or just use glitter fabric paint. If you want a stencil to do lettering or something, you can make one from a clear piece of plastic (like the kind found glued into the front of those “see-thru” cardboard “Bratz-Dollz” boxes, etc.). This way, it can be placed on top of a design to be traced onto it (using a permanent-marker), and then cut-out (with an exacto-knife). An old makeup-application brush is nice to use for a paintbrush…a BIG one is good for stenciling—lightly “dab” it onto the clothing.

            A great idea for someone who’s NOT an artist but wants to draw a realistic likeness of something (an animal, person, or whatever), is to use an image-projector. I occasionally use one for enlarging photos of people when I do portraits. You just TRACE the image onto your work-area—in this case, if you want a pic of Baz’s face on your shirt, stretch the shirt flat on a wall with thumbtacks, and trace-away! (Use either a “soft-lead” pencil, or colored chalk that washes-out.) These projectors are ALSO good for copying a favorite “logo” onto something…just don’t ever attempt to SELL anything with a copyrighted image/character on it! 😮

            If you’d like, you can ALSO decorate the leg of a pair of comfy, fitted sweatpants (with words down the side), like the ones you see at: “Victoria’s Secret”—I don’t believe in spending $45 for sweats, so I usually buy mine at discount stores, like ROSS—but, they can be difficult to find, so designing your OWN is another option.

            You might try going online to have those “Baz” shirts you want CUSTOM made by a T-shirt place, like: “Zazzle”, “Vista Print”, or “Café Press”, etc. 🙂

            Like

            • BASIL says

              I’m still sort of traumatised from the Ika Musume costume I tried to make last month. >_<'
              The hat worked out okay (It frayed a little bit) but I sort of had to do the dress last minute, so I had to use some fabric pens…..it went so terribly wrong.
              I was aiming for this:

              I ended up the lines to thick, the circles slightly dented and running out of ink on the back of it. Luckily nobody seemed to recognise who I was and so they all figured I was meant to be a shipwrecked squid. o_o'
              I have successfully customised things before so I kind of have no idea how it all went topsy turvy ;_;

              Luckily my school actually does clothing design as a career option if we want to do it, so if I can take sidetracks from what I want to do I might take that. (And perhaps art aswell.)

              Like

              • GRETCHEN says

                Have you ever thought of making a “furry” character-costume? They’re pretty CUTE!! 🙂

                I like to wear those “animal-hats” that are SO popular now…I have a fluffy hot-pink “bear” one with a purple bow on one ear (like “Hello Kitty” has), and fuzzy zebra, panda and kitty ones, with braided tassels.

                I also have a zipper-hoodie from Disneyland, that’s black with Mickey Mouse’s “signature” embroidered on the front in red, and BIG “Mickey-Ears” on the hood! I might wear it for Halloween, if I can get myself some plushy-fleece Mickey PJ pants to go with it—I LIVE in plushy-fleece PJ pants! 🙂

                Like

                • BASIL says

                  I collect those sort of hats!
                  My first I bought at Disneyland Paris back when I was 4 or 5 but then it got dropped into a toilet where someone hadn’t flushed, so I never really took it out of the park X(
                  I got another one before they were cool (which was a polar bear) And then a few years back my aunt bought me a panda one. (Pandas are my fave animals!ಠヮಠ) Then I sort of got into them, I started wearing them to school (My maths teacher at the time tried one of them on and kept it on until the end of the lesson :3 ) I have one that looks like a squirrel, 2 cat ones and a skunk! >w<

                  I went to another Disneypark earlier this year (I like Disney an awful lot, or atleast the classics and the studio Ghiblis…sometimes Pixar but meh..) and they had the hats for sale, thing is we'd been staying in the country for a few days and I'd spent all of my money already.
                  I sleep in a onezie that looks like a dinosaur. :3

                  Like

              • BASIL says

                …One of the main reasons I want to take it is cosplay. And I’ve decided that some day I shall cosplay Basil from his ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’
                (Only it wouldn’t be a suit I’d be wearing. It’d be a little bit more girly and sweet. :3)
                I don’t know if it’ll ever happen or not, but nevermind. o(‘3’)o

                Like

  14. david says

    You are very charming, very smart and very cute and a movie buff! Will you marry me? 🙂

    Like

  15. FRank B says

    I aded a comment earlier and was hoping for feed back. f this isn’t the right place could anyone advise me where to go? I went to http://www.basilrathbone.net but I was unable to find a contact form or email address.

    I beleive I may have some letters written by Basil Rathbone while he was serving in the Great War. I’m not certain of it as the signature is not “Basil”, but something that looks like “PSB”.

    Now, because of this no one has imagined the letters were by anyone famous and they have just been a part of my collection (I am a ww1 buff) for several years. But then I acquired the book “Famous 1914-18” last month, which has a section on Rathbone and I realised the names of his siblings matched names referred to in these particular letters, that is the name “Bea” and the name “Johnny”. I additionaly realised that “PSB” was commensurate with Rathbones full set of given names which were “Philip St-John Basil”.

    I am not saying this means the letters were written by him, but I am interested in finding out, and believe the input of experts like those here might help. I was hoping people could tell me if Rathbone ever signed previously with his initials, or if the handwriting resembles his. I believe it does, but I’m biased as I would be over the moon to have letters from a celebrity in my collection!

    The letters are written to the person’s family while the soldier is serving in France. I have not been able to identify where or with what unit, only that he stipulates “B Coy” (B Company). According to the book Rathbone was in B coy 2/10 Liverpool Scottish, which saw active service in France from spring 1917. Unfortunately the letters don’t have definite dates, so that is a dead end.

    I really want to know if it can be proved who wrote these letters. Would anyone care to help me out?

    Like

    • i do not know if this would help you.the letters i have seen he wrote were all signed basil or basil rathbone.the books i have read never referred to his using phillip or being called it.

      Like

    • Hi Fred, the best thing to do is scan the letters and send them to me or to basilrathbone.net, but like the previous commenter says. I have never heard of him using anything but “Basil” or”B” as a signature. There must have been a lot of soldiers with people called John in their family, and Beatrice was quite common in Edwardian times too. I don’t want to be discouraging, but there’s not much reason in what you say to assume the letters were by the Baz.

      Like

    • GRETCHEN says

      Not sure which site it was, but I have read “PSB” at the bottom of a few letters he wrote during the war…he went by his birth-name sometimes when writing to his family, back then. His handwriting is quite unique, and if you compare your letters against some online, you’ll be able to tell if he wrote them. THAT WOULD BE SUPER-AWESOME, IF THEY’RE REAL!! 🙂

      Like

      • Hey Gretchen – welcome to THE BAZ 🙂 That’s interesting you say he went by his birth name when writing to his family. You mean he was known as “Philip” when he was younger? I am personally fairly certain he did write those war letters as the handwriting is virtually identical to his known letters.

        Like

  16. Frank B says

    I don’t know if this is the right place to contact. I think I may have a couple of WW1 letters from Basil Rathbone, would anyone be prepared to help me identify them?

    Like

  17. AnnaPindurka says

    As for getting them on dvd, TCM apparently wants to know what films people would like to see released. Let’s say you wanted Flirting Widow, you need to go to the user reviews page of that film on the TCM website, here: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/1001/The-Flirting-Widow/user-reviews.html and in the top right corner you can vote for it to be released on dvd. You can vote only once. I bet they’ll be surprised if they suddenly get 285 votes for each unreleased Basil Rathbone film!
    (It seems to work only with films that have had user reviews, so yes for A Notorious Affair but no for This Mad World for example.)

    Like

    • Sarah says

      I am looking for a copy of THIS MAD WORLD does anyone have one or know where one can be found?

      Like

      • I would LOVE to see this movie too. Email the webmaster at basilrathbone.net. There is a “for sale/wanted” page and if you put your enquiry on there you might get lucky.

        Like

      • i did get several films thru this site.there is a mr.blomberg{i think thats his name}listed under her movie sections.he was very kind.i also placed an add too.
        i also,wrote and called the studios where the movies were filmed.negative replies from two.
        i did find that one precious year was never released here .only in the uk.
        perhaps one day tcm will come thru again.

        Like

    • thanks much for your suggestions.i did e-mail them about the films i was seeking.
      they replied they did not have any of the films,even the flirting widow.
      two years later they reran it on tv.
      sorry if this sounds bitter but,i knew they had the flirting widow.a friend had a copy from tcm previously shown there.

      Like

  18. agree with all you said.but,i will be happier if i got to see all the films he made.theres four from 1930-33 not in circulation and his silents are missing also.i still hope they will show up some day.

    Like

  19. Katoodle Lolly says

    I think Basil Rathbone, though he didn’t get top billing lots of the time, in his movies, was so very much the best part of all his films, and we should be happy to have of him, what we have, don’t you think? A lot of the stuff he is in, I do mainly watch because he is in, but his movies, I think, are very, very good. Some of the cheaper flicks he did, near the end, were pretty darn good too, like Tales of Terror, and especially, The Comedy of Terrors. He is SO Funny in the Comedy of Terrors! Thanks for reading, and letting me ramble on about my new, but everlasting love, Basil Rathbone! P.S. I am glad he did swashbuckling films, it showcased his gorgeous fencing skills!
    Remember, he was the best swordfighter/fencing guy in Hollywood. Thanks for reading.

    Like

  20. ClaudinAnn says

    I adore this site and am quite envious you thought of it first, or at least did it first. I have been toying with starting a blog devoted to Basil for a while, but now I’m pleased I didn’t as you are doing it better

    Like

  21. DSD says

    I think it was shortsighted of Rathbone to undervalue his Holmes work. In that regard he made his own misfortune. A good article on this can be found at basilrathbone.net, I don’t remember the title unfortunately

    Like

  22. Holly ( Otherwise known as popperbooty on most websites ) says

    You were a kid when you liked him too? 🙂 I got into him last year, ( not giving away my age, due to parents 😛 ) I find him real cute. XP!
    Other kids think I’m a bit weird, but hey, Basil’s better than JLS And Johnny Depp now isnt he? 🙂

    Like

  23. Rosemarie says

    If you want to see another great candid, there’s one of Baz kissing Olivia deHaviland’s hand in an outtake from Adventures of Robin Hood. It’s at the great site basilrathbone.net

    Like

  24. OK I love this blog!! I adore Basil. And I’m greatly humbled that CinemaOCD has made your blog list, when I haven’t updated it in ages. (You might link to my tumblr which I update continuously!)

    Like

    • H Jenny – I will def link to your tumblr – let me have the URL. Cinema OCD is one of my great reads though. I love the way you write about film

      Like

  25. Teresa Dudley says

    What a fascinating piece – I had no idea Mr Rathbone’s career was less than fulfilling to him – a real insight. Much like MY Sherlockian hero, Jeremy Brett …. those achingly good looks were almost a hindrance in his middle career. Thankfully, he took on Holmes later in life & was a genius interpreter of Doyle’s written character … but the heavy filming schedule (& the toll it took on his life & health) almost certainly curtailed his chances for other work on stage & screen? It seems that the Sherlock role has often proved a double-edged sword. 😦 But great men they both were ….. and thanks to souls such as yourself, they won’t be forgotten! 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Teresa – Didn’t Brett himself compare his experience with Basil’s? I might be imagining it, but I think I saw an interview where Brett says something about Holmes being a kind of curse on all the actors who are seriously identified with him. Doesn’t bode well for RDJ in that case does it.

      Like

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