SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH — Digitally Restored in 35mm The master detective Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and his faithful cohort Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) are back, preserved and digitally restored in 35mm to origina... more »l condition by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. This newly restored version of the classic film includes the period war bond tag, studio logo and credits from its original theatrical release. Filled with ominous shadows and interesting camera angles, the visual beauty of the film in 35mm is stunning. SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH (1943) is an intriguing mystery based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?s "The Musgrave Ritual." Dr. Watson, tending recuperating soldiers housed at centuries-old Musgrave Manor, summons Sherlock Holmes to investigate strange happenings. What follows is a bizarre series of events, including murders, secret passages, a game of chess and a mysterious family ritual. Even Inspector Lestrade is on hand, as well as lovely Hillary Brooke as Sally Musgrave. But only Sherlock Holmes, in a race against time and a desperate killer, can decipher the ancient riddle and uncover the treasure it hides. Preserved and restored in 35mm by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.« less
Arty Abrams | Summerton, SC United States | 07/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am writing this pre-review to express my Great Expectations and excitement over the upcoming DVD release of the 14 Sherlock Holmes movies made by Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
For those of us who have loved and worn out our VHS versions of these films, I am sure that I speak for many of us in expressing incredible anticipation and near shock that someone has finally recognized the need to release a "restored version" of these timeless classics.
We are told that they have been "Preserved and restored in 35mm by the UCLA Film and Television Archive." This is marvelous and I have already pre-ordered Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 from MPI Home Video.
I so hope that the entire 14 movies, are ultimately released in restored condition. Especially the rarest of them, "The Scarlet Claw" which has rarely been shown on televison and only been available on VHS sporadically.
To me and many others I know, Basil Rathbone is the definative Holmes. Not just because he looks alarmingly similar -as much as is humanly possible- to Sidney Pagets drawings of Holmes from the Strand Magazine illustrations, but mostly we love Rathbone because he portrayed the same Holmes that we as readers get through the buffer of Dr. Watson explaining away not magnifying Holmes' shortcomings.
Jeremy Brett chose to amplify every negative aspect of Holmes' personality that in the written versions Watson explained away. Rathbone's Holmes has been demeaned visciously over the past years and hopefully the respect and dignity that he gave his portrayals will be seen in all their accuracy and glory with these new digitally restored releases. ... these will have to be the best quality versions of these classics ever released...so for all of us who have cursed the incomprehensibly awful releases of these films over the years...our time has almost come. Show your support for this effort by ordering a restored version of American Film Histroy.
Much Thanks to UCLA, MPI, and Whoever was ultimately responsible for the idea of doing this!!!!"
Ghosts Don't Stab People in the Neck, Do They?
laddie5 | 11/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first of the Universal Sherlock Holmes movies that returned the detective to traditional mystery plots, after three wartime anti-Nazi adventures. It's also one of the best... and in fact it was voted the 2nd-best Holmes movie of all time in one poll (after Rathbone's "Adventures" or "Hound," I forget which). The entertaining opening has Nigel Bruce's Dr. Watson, who has a bit more on the ball than usual, bringing Holmes into the case-which itself is a clever improvement on Conan Doyle's rather dull short story "The Musgrave Ritual." The cast features almost all of the usual stock company featured in this series (Dennis Hoey, Gerald Hamer, Vernon Dowling, Frederic Worlock, Gavin Muir), playing assorted cretins, rotters, weaklings, and twitching neurotics. Various sets from "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" turn up as well, and the plot abounds with bloodthirsty ravens, bolts of lightning, mysterious passageways, and a clock that strikes thirteen on the nights that evil is afoot. Rathbone strikes a nice balance between his earlier, more wired Sherlock and his later jaded style, but the excellent UCLA restoration also reveals him as a bit older and more ravaged than I recall. Maybe there's something to be said for a "soft" transfer after all."
What's Next...Peace in the MidEast?
Arty Abrams | Summerton, SC United States | 11/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I wrote an extensive build up of these movies, prior to their release. I am now pleased to say that about 98% of my anticipation was not misguided.
Overall, these are the clearest and sharpest versions I have seen in my lifetime.
In comparison to some of the non Key Video versions that were out on VHS these offerings from MPI are stunning.
My only letdown was, as others have mentioned, is that there could have easily been more additional material offered.
A short commentary was offered on the restoration of Orson Welles' "The Third Man" by Criterion and was fascinating.
Something similar to this would have been easy to produce and Holmes fans like myself who have put up with public domain trash copies for decades would have eaten up such a documentary.
I also have wondered for years if there are any out-takes from the films that still exist.
How fascinating that would have been, and would still be....hint....hint.
At the very least, Filmographies of Rathbone and Bruce, or trivia facts about the series or the actors, or the productions, or at least even the trailers should have been included.
Little things, such as pointing out the appearance of a young dark handsome Milburn Stone in "Faces Death" who later became "Doc" on Gunsmoke.
There are several instances where the Captioning is lazy. Such as in "Faces Death" when Holmes says "anno Domini" in a sentence and the caption writer just put "Domino."
Even with occasional lapses in the captioning, it was indeed nice to have them captioned.
Of all the films in this Volume, the one I found most curious was "Faces Death."
Even after reading the liner notes, I still wonder why some of the extreme deterioration marks on individual frames could not have been repaired by computer.
Much worse deterioration existed on the "Third Man" and it was restored flawlessly. And oddly, there are a few sections of the Key Video version of this Film that are clearer than this MPI restored version.....?....
Was this a real case of Wet vs. Dry printing or laziness on the part of those in the restoration process?
All that said, the other three films are near pristine, especially Holmes in "Washington". I think there will never be another version of these prints released that will surpass the quality of this offering.
Lastly, for the snobby Holmesian purest who nearly worship the Brett/Granada versions of the Holmes stories, I think this offering will go a long way in explaining to many why Rathbone is beyond doubt the nearest thing to Holmes incarnate that has or ever will exist.
The Granda versions are draining, dripping with overcharachterization and forced melodrama...did I mention contrived?
Brett often behaves like a neurotic narcissistic snot who sees and loves his own image off a distance in a mirror somewhere.
These films with Rathbone and Bruce are timelessly engaging, underplayed, entertaining, perfectly moody and just downright fun in every aspect. Rathbone and Bruce had a chemistry that so completely complimented each other.
Rathbone especially....you never catch him playing Sherlock Holmes...he just "is" Sherlock Holmes.
Now, if we can just get the first two Rathbone and Bruce films restored and captioned and in our libraries....well what's next...Peace in the MidEast?"
Not a Nazi in sight in splendid Holmes mystery
B. W. Fairbanks | Lakewood, OH United States | 03/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After three films in which Sherlock Holmes battled the Nazis, even Universal must have grown tired of their gimmicky attempt to "modernize" the Great Detective. With "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death," Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are back on more familiar turf and solve a mystery having absolutely no connection to World War II. For the first time in the series, a film doesn't merely credit a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, screenwriter Bertram Millhauser actually makes use of one, "The Musgrave Ritual," a traditional murder mystery involving an old family curse. The story gives director Roy William Neill plenty of opportunities to pour on the atmosphere that is the series' best attribute, aside from stars Rathbone and Bruce, of course.With this entry, the series greatly improved, and greater adventures were still to come for the famous detective from Baker Street.Brian W. Fairbanks"
"These Egomaniacs Are Always So Much More Chatty When They F
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 07/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The ever-appealing acting pair of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce teamed up once again for "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death", which premiered on U.S. theater screens on September 17th, 1943.
"Faces Death" marked the sixth Holmes entry in the Rathbone/Bruce series of fourteen black-and-white films featuring the famed fictional detective from London's 221B Baker Street (and this was the third Sherlock pic they made together in what was a busy calendar year of 1943, following their earlier '43 efforts, "The Secret Weapon" and "Sherlock Holmes In Washington").
"Faces Death" is one of my overall favorites amongst the 14 Basil Rathbone-as-Holmes movies, and it's a nice rebound effort for Universal right after a bit of a misfire with the "In Washington" Holmes entry.
Holmes and Dr. Watson (Bruce) investigate a series of bizarre goings-on (including murder) in "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death". These strange occurrences take place at the old and creepy "Musgrave Manor", which is a large, foreboding mansion that comes complete with secret passages and a checkered floor which comes in handy when playing a game of chess (utilizing human beings as chess "pieces").
The puzzling "Musgrave Ritual" is another of the things that makes this movie a lot of fun. But, luckily, it's not enough of a puzzler to keep Sherlock H. from figuring out its cryptic meaning. .....
"Who came then to slay him? The bloodthirsty bishop. Where shall he go? Deep down below. Away from the thunder. Let him dig under."
Dennis Hoey shows up in this Holmes installment, too (as the always-inept "Inspector Lestrade"). Other co-stars include Hillary Brooke, Milburn Stone, Gerald Hamer, Frederick Worlock, Halliwell Hobbes, and Vernon Downing.
Downing is my favorite Musgrave Manor "patient" in this film. He plays "Lieutenant Clavering", a very odd-acting fellow who flinches and twitches a lot, enjoys "American cigarettes", and likes to eavesdrop on people by listening to conversations through the Manor's walls with his "sound detector" (which, actually, is a device that aids Mr. Holmes greatly in solving the case near the end of the picture).
Also watch out for a very young (19-year-old) Peter Lawford. He has a small bit part as a sailor at the beginning of the film. And Peter gets in a good thick-accented "Blimey!" too. ~grin~
"Faces Death" and "The House Of Fear" are two Holmes films that are very similar. Which is probably why they are two of my favorite titles in this 14-movie Holmes series. Both of those films feature eerie old houses, dark scenery, stormy nights, various murders, and a host of assorted strange characters (i.e., "suspects") roaming the hallways of these respective mysterious dwellings.
But with Basil and Nigel on the scene, can there be any doubt that the culprit(s) will be brought to justice? Nah. Not a shred of a doubt.
MPI Home Video released "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death" as a stand-alone DVD on October 28, 2003. On that same date, MPI also released a multi-movie "Sherlock Holmes Collection" (Volume 1), which includes "Faces Death" plus three other Sherlock titles.
The individual-disc version of "Faces Death" comes in a Keepcase box with a two-sided, one-sheet insert enclosed. A chapter list occupies one side of the insert (there are 12 total chapter breaks).
The video and audio look and sound pretty darn good for a film from this (1940s) era. Video is in the OAR of 1.33:1 (Full Frame); with a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono soundtrack.
English Subtitles are available on this disc. The subtitles, though, lag a little behind the spoken words on screen; but it's a minimal delay. However, I have spotted a few blatant errors in the text of the subtitling that's been done for these MPI Sherlock Holmes DVDs (including this disc, plus some of the other DVDs in this Holmes series). On occasion, the printed words don't match the spoken dialogue at all. And sometimes the mis-match is quite (unintentionally) humorous. :)
DVD bonus features -- None.
Here's the DVD "Scene Selection" list for this 68-minute movie:
1.) Opening Titles 2.) Musgrave Manor 3.) Doctor In The House 4.) "A Killer Loose!" 5.) Extraordinary Patients 6.) "That Appalling Man From Scotland Yard" 7.) The Musgrave Ritual 8.) The Rat And The Raven 9.) The Butler Did It? 10.) The Ritual Solved 11.) Checkmate 12.) End Credits
Invite Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce back into your living room for about an hour by way of this DVD, and watch Sherlock Holmes face death in ... um ... "SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH".
And if you ever play a game of 'Human Chess' with Mr. Holmes, just make sure you don't have a secret burial crypt underneath your 'chess board' that you want to keep hidden. Because that Sherlock guy is one smart cookie. :)"