Everett Collection
Chris Nashawaty
March 22, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection

Current Status
In Season
974 minutes
Basil Rathbone
MPI Home Video
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B+

As cool as it was watching Robert Downey Jr. flex his deductive powers and his jacked-up biceps as Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s 2009 action reboot, I’m not sure bare-knuckle brawling and popcorn editing are what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had in mind when he dreamed up the legendary sleuth of 221B Baker Street. For that, you really need to go back to Basil Rathbone, who played the dashing dandy in the deerstalker cap from 1939 to 1946. With his patrician features and Etonian delivery, Rathbone was, is, and always will be the one we think of when we think of Holmes. He unspools brilliantly crackpot theories in 14 films — all of which are included in the new five-disc Blu-ray set The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection (1939?46, Not Rated, 16 hrs., 14 mins.). The first two entries are the best: 1939’s fog-shrouded mystery on the moors, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and 1939’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which introduces the brainiac’s archnemesis Professor Moriarty (George Zucco, looking like one of the Smith Bros. cough-drop guys). Sadly, these two are the only films in the package that haven’t been restored. Not every movie is a gem, and some are downright laughable, like 1942’s Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, which first brings Holmes into the modern era to match wits and sidelong glances with the Nazis. Still, the good in the set far outweighs the bad, thanks in large part to Nigel Bruce’s blustery, bumbling Dr. Watson — the heart and soul of the buddy-movie series. Whenever he and Rathbone share the screen, I find my eyes inevitably drawn to Watson, waiting for him to blow his top at his partner’s latest line of ludicrous logic: ?Utter hogwash, Holmes!? What a hoot! B+

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