Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes

The "original" Sherlock Holmes on the silver screen (though there were many other forerunners) was the Basil Rathbone run as Sherlock Holmes in 14 films. They were the pre-imminent interpretation of the character to an audience that was still avidly reading the Arthur Conan Doyle books during the 1930s-40s. For the Sherlock purists (for whom the more recent Robert Downey Jr / Guy Richie version and BBC "Sherlock" with Benedict Cumberpatch are probably radical distortions) the Basil Rathbone version is much too free form.

The Rathbone series is hardly perfect (perhaps the Jeremy Brett versions for British television -1984 to 1994 - is as close to a tight literary version of the actual tales, well-made and much attention paid to keeping the character a creature of the Doyle stories), but the Rathbone version has an iconic charm that is unsurpassed. In a way Rathbone invented the version that has been imitated and "corrected" ever since.


Original page November 2012


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