The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

One Sheet Poster

The second Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes film (it came after The Hound of the Baskervilles), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is considered by many people to be the best of the Rathbone/Bruce series, and by some to be the best Sherlock Holmes film ever.  Whether you agree with either of those opinions or not, the film is undeniably good-looking and a lot of fun.

The rather complicated plot concerns Professor Moriarity (played by George Zucco) trying to pull off two crimes at once, hoping that Holmes will be distracted by the more intriguing of the two crimes, which would leave Moriarity open to pull off the other–a really, really big crime.  I’m not going to say any more about the plot, but it’s most entertaining.  George Zucco makes a great Moriarity, Ida Lupino (as the damsel in distress) looks absolutely gorgeous, and Rathbone and Bruce ARE Holmes and Watson (even if Bruce’s Watson isn’t anything like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary Watson)—THE Holmes and Watson to which every other filmic Holmes and Watson have been and, for the foreseeable future, will be compared.

This was the second and last Rathbone and Bruce Sherlock Holmes film to be released by 20th Century-Fox and the last one set in Victorian London; three years after this one the series moved to Universal, where Sherlock and company were brought into then present-day England to fight the Nazis.  This might not have been the best direction to take the series from an artistic point of view, but it did have two things going for it: for Universal, it lowered the budgets considerably, and for audiences, it gave a topical freshness to these characters who had been around since before the turn of the century.

Even though The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the second of the Rathbone/Bruce Holmes films, don’t feel like you have to watch them in order.  Just pick one and dive in.  I suggest starting with this one.

Here’s the entire film, albeit broken into nine parts, from YouTube:


If you’d rather watch the entire film (well, the entire film minus the opening credits) without having to go from piece to piece, here it is, again from YouTube.  The choice is YOURS!  (As usual, I can’t guarantee that this will be viewable for very long, so watch it soon if you want to see it.)


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