All posts tagged: Sherlock Holmes

The German Versions of Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes Films

In 2009, film historian Amanda Field wrote England’s Secret Weapon: The Wartime Films of Sherlock Holmes, a book that explores the Sherlock Holmes films in their historical context. From the back cover:“Though the first two films were set in the detective’s ‘true’ Victorian period, Holmes was then updated and recruited to fight the Nazis. He came to represent the acceptable face of England for the Americans — the one man who could be relied upon to ensure an Allied victory.” It’s no surprise, then, that Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes films were not released in German theaters during the war years. Even those films that did not feature Nazis as Sherlock Holmes’s foe would have been deemed unacceptable in Germany because Sherlock Holmes was a British hero, symbolic of England. By the mid 1950s, however, West Germany had a friendly relationship with Great Britain, and German attitudes towards Sherlock Holmes had changed. But, instead of simply releasing the Sherlock Holmes films, Argus Filmverleih put together four composite movies, each of which is made using footage from …

On Playing Sherlock Holmes

Basil Rathbone, creator of radio’s version of Doyle’s famous sleuth, sees character as part of old England. The following is an article written by Basil Rathbone. Titled “On Playing Sherlock Holmes,” it was published in the March 1940 issue of Radio Varieties. Many persons ask me what is the difference in your feeling when you face the NBC microphone as Sherlock Holmes and when you face the camera. I would be only too willing to oblige them through Radio Varieties except that there is really no difference. In either case, I feel Holmes to be as real as my Dr. Watson, Mr. Nigel Bruce. Like countless millions of Holmes’ admirers throughout the world, I see him as a very part of old England. As I conceive him, and my concept may differ radically with those of Editor Wilton Rosenthal’s readers, Holmes was a man with tremendous powers of concentration. His absorption in his calling was extraordinary. Very properly, he never associated with women; evinced no interest in them. (Imagine what a hell it would have …

Review: The Curse of Sherlock Holmes

I have finished reading The Curse of Sherlock Holmes: The Basil Rathbone Story, written by David Clayton, and — Wow! What a wonderful biography of the Great Baz! Well-written and well-researched, this book is a “must-have” in every Rathbone fan’s collection. Clayton’s book is a engrossing narrative that follows Basil Rathbone from his birthplace in South Africa, to England, to New York City, and Hollywood. Clayton provides the full sweep of Basil Rathbone’s life chronologically, covering his professional career as well as personal relationships. From the Prologue: “Intrigue, drama, tragedy, mystery, romance and a sprinkling of the macabre: Rathbone was many things to many people. … War hero, son, brother, actor, husband, father, lover … Basil Rathbone was all of these and more, yet the role he would eventually become synonymous with would also become his nemesis.” Does the book reveal anything new? Maybe not to the faithful followers of this blog. We already know so much about Basil. But the general public will discover much about the life of an extraordinary man. Does the …

New Book: The Curse of Sherlock Holmes

At last we Rathbone fans have a new book about our hero to read! David Clayton’s book The Curse of Sherlock Holmes: The Basil Rathbone Story has just been released in the U.K., and is scheduled to be released in the U.S.A. through Trafalgar/IPG Book distributors November 2020.  I haven’t seen the book yet (my copy is on its way), but I’ll post an update after I’ve read the book. Here is the press release: The first definitive biography of Basil Rathbone, from the trenches of WWI to Hollywood fame New biography The Curse of Sherlock Holmes is the first complete account of one of Britain’s most loved actors. Though Basil Rathbone had a long and distinguished acting career, it was as Sherlock Holmes that he achieved worldwide fame. Appearing in fourteen Holmes films, Rathbone made the role his own, and every actor who has since played the ingenious detective has been compared to him — almost always failing to live up to Rathbone’s legacy. He continued his career in Hollywood, appearing in numerous roles, …

Cynthia…?

Judging from the search terms that hit this blog and the steady trickle of emails I get on the subject, there is a fair amount of curiosity and/or puzzlement amongst Rathbone fans regarding the life and tragically early death of his adopted daughter Cynthia. It’s true that what we know about Cynthia is surprisingly patchy, considering she was a movie star’s daughter…Here is what we do know…

X Part VII

Continuing the transcribed interview with Madame X from PART VI [tell me about [NAME REDACTED]] ……[NAME REDACTED] was crazy. But you know insanity is an amazingly good distraction. I was…Basil and I had called it off as we did periodically. And [NAME REDACTED] just made all the moves. And, you know, he was attractive and charming and wondering what this crazy man would do next was…well it filled up time. And he was good company on a good day. Nothing much more to say…the press crawled all over the stupid things he did. It was painted very lurid, really it was just ridiculous. He was tinged with farce. Tattooed with it maybe. In big letter…right here. But…when all that came out [Basil] was mad as hell with me. He was saying “he’s a degenerate, what’s the matter with you.” He was a degenerate. But…I guess I wasn’t being all that rational or together myself by then. It was hard…the situation was so hard. Being detailed off by the man you love to find happiness with …