Sherlock Holmes and the Cinema
November 21 – December 18
The game is afoot! This year marks the 125th anniversary of the first appearance of the World's Greatest Detective, Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle's enduring creation first starred in "A Study in Scarlet," published in Beeton's Christmas Annual, November 1887. Conan Doyle would go on to feature Holmes in four novels and more than 50 short stories, but he could not have guessed at the endless stage, screen and television adaptations that would follow—indeed, Holmes is popularly thought to be the most widely portrayed fictional character in movie history (more than 250 listings appear on IMDb.com). AFI Silver presents a wide-ranging overview of Sherlock in the cinema—including a generous selection of the screen's most iconic Sherlock, Basil Rathbone.
All films in this series feature characters based on the creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all films in the Sherlock Holmes series.
THE SIGN OF FOUR
Arthur Wontner was much praised as a wry and witty Sherlock Holmes in four features from the early 1930s, the best being THE SIGN OF FOUR. A beautiful woman in danger (Isla Bevan) seeks Holmes' assistance; after she is kidnapped, Holmes and Watson (Ian Hunter) must scour the London underworld to find her. Directed by journeyman Graham Cutts, one-time mentor to an up-and-coming Alfred Hitchcock.
DIR Graham Cutts; SCR W. P. Lipscomb, from the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle; PROD Basil Dean. UK, 1932, b&w, 75 min. NOT RATED
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1939)
Wed, Nov 21, 3:00; Mon, Nov 26, 4:45; Wed, Nov 28, 4:45
Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce made their iconic debuts as Holmes and Watson in this, the most gothic of the great detective's cases. The aristocratic Baskerville family's curse, a spectral hound that stalks its scions in the dead of night, has claimed its latest victim, and the family's young heir may be next. Holmes suspects there may be a less supernatural solution to the case. The moodily atmospheric art direction, including many a fog-draped moor, was the work of master craftsmen Richard Day and Hans Peters, photographed by J. Peverell Marley.
DIR Sidney Lanfield; SCR Ernest Pascal, from the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle; PROD Darryl F. Zanuck. US, 1939, b&w, 80 min. NOT RATED
SHERLOCK HOLMES (1932)
Wed, Nov 21, 7:00; Sun, Nov 25, 11:00 a.m.; Thu, Nov 29, 7:00
Debonair Clive Brook gives a suave performance as Holmes in this fast- paced, visually inventive early sound picture from the always innovative William K. Howard. Holmes must come out of retirement – and his planned nuptials! – when Professor Moriarty escapes prison, swearing revenge on those who sent him there.
DIR/PROD William K. Howard; SCR Bertram Millhauser, from the play by William Gillette. US, 1932, b&w, 68 min. NOT RATED
Thu, Nov 22, 5:00; Fri, Nov 23, 11:30 a.m.; Tue, Nov 27, 4:45
Double Act: Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce
"Elementary, my dear Watson." Coolly delivered by the charismatic Basil Rathbone to the comically bumbling Nigel Bruce across 14 features, this Holmes-Watson duo remains for many the definitive screen pairing, and the heroes of many an enjoyable Saturday matinee. The first two handsomely made films were produced at Fox, then continued by Universal, who cranked out sometimes three a year on B-movie budgets. The majority of the Rathbone-Bruce films were transposed from their late-Victorian settings to the modern day, introducing motorcars, radio and Nazi villains. These rollicking B-picture programmers make for a fast, fun-filled double bill. All prints preserved by and courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.
THE SCARLET CLAW
On a visit to Quebec City, Holmes and Watson are summoned to the nearby village of La Mort Rouge, where a local matron, Lady Penrose, has been found murdered with her throat torn out. The villagers suspect supernatural devilry, but Holmes believes Lady Penrose's former life as an actress may yield a clue to her killer's identity.
DIR/SCR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Edmund L. Hartmann, from the story by Paul Gangelin and Brenda Weisberg. US, 1944, b&w, 74 min. NOT RATED
THE PEARL OF DEATH
After a highly prized, possibly cursed pearl is stolen from a museum, Holmes must identify the link between its theft and a series of brutal murders committed by a gruesome man dubbed the Creeper. Loosely adapted from Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons."
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Bertram Millhauser. US, 1944, b&w, 69 min. NOT RATED
TERROR BY NIGHT
Fri, Nov 30, 2:00; Sun, Dec 2, 8:30; Tue, Dec 4, 4:00; Wed, Dec 5, 4:00
While traveling by train from London to Edinburgh, Lady Carstairs, owner of the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond, loses both her prized jewel and her son, murdered during the robbery. Holmes must race against time to find the killer in this fast-paced, tightly wound thriller.
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Frank Gruber. US, 1946, b&w, 60 min. NOT RATED
DRESSED TO KILL aka PRELUDE TO MURDER
When an old school chum of Watson's is found murdered, Holmes suspects the man's recent purchase of a hand-crafted music box – now missing – may hold a clue. The box is one of a set of three recently sold around London, and Holmes and Watson set to tracking down the others, soon discovering they're not the only ones with an interest in the curios, as they must out-maneuver a criminal gang led by wily femme fatale Hilda Courtney (Patricia Morison).
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Frank Gruber, Leonard Lee. US, 1946, color/b&w, 72 min. NOT RATED
SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGTON
Sat, Dec 1, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Dec 3, 3:45; Thu, Dec 6, 3:45
Even the World's Greatest Detective was called on to do his part for the war effort during WWII. After a British agent carrying a top secret dossier
is kidnapped en route to the U.S., the British government summons the services of Sherlock Holmes, sending him to Washington, DC, to investigate the man's disappearance. Henry Daniell and George Zucco play Nazi agents.
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Bertram Millhauser, Lynn Riggs. US, 1943, b&w, 71 min. NOT RATED
THE SPIDER WOMAN
The inexplicable deaths of several prominent London men puzzle Scotland Yard and electrify the press. Suspecting a "black widow"-style killer, Sherlock Holmes lays a trap with himself as bait, first faking his own death and then disguising himself as a wealthy retired Indian military officer. Enter Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard), a deadly beauty as cunning as Moriarty.
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Bertram Millhauser. US, 1944, b&w, 63 min. NOT RATED
THE HOUSE OF FEAR
Fri, Dec 7, 2:00; Tue, Dec 11, 4:00; Thu, Dec 13, 4:00
Gathered together at a castle in Scotland, the members of the Good Comrades Club see their number diminish one by one, each victim's murder preceded by delivery of a menacing letter containing a number of orange seeds predicting their declining membership. A complicated insurance scheme wherein each member willed his estate to the surviving club men may be behind the crime. Can Sherlock Holmes solve the case while there's still a club to save? Loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips."
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Roy Chanslor. US, 1945, b&w, 69 min. NOT RATED
THE WOMAN IN GREEN
A series of mysterious murders of young women, each with a single finger severed, has the London police searching for a madman. Holmes suspects an even more diabolical plot may be behind the crimes, with the trail leading first to a shadowy association of hypnotists, including icy cool blonde Hillary Brooke, and eventually, arch-enemy Professor Moriarty.
DIR/PROD Roy William Neill; SCR Bertram Millhauser. US, 1945, color/b&w, 68 min. NOT RATED
SHERLOCK HOLMES (1922)
Live Musical Accompaniment by Ben Model
Sat, Dec 8, 1:10; Wed, Dec 12, 6:30
"The Great Profile" plays the World's Greatest Detective, as screen legend John Barrymore chews the scenery as Sherlock Holmes and matches wits with arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty in this entertaining silent interpretation. Long thought a "lost" Barrymore film, a print was rediscovered in the 1970s by George Eastman House film curator James Card, with the restoration only completed in the past decade. The supporting cast includes Roland Young (TOPPER) as Watson and, in a supporting role, William Powell, both making their screen debuts. DIR Albert Parker; SCR Earle Browne, Marion Fairfax, from the play by William
Gillete; PROD F. J. Godsol. US, 1922, b&w, 109 min. Silent with live accompaniment. NOT RATED
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Tickets $15/$12 AFI Members
Sat, Dec 1, 2:00
Concerned for her brother's safety, Ann Brandon (Ida Lupino) visits 221B Baker Street to seek the help of Sherlock Holmes. Soon, Ann herself is in danger for knowing too much, as Holmes' investigation uncovers a plan to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London, orchestrated by none other than his nemesis, Professor Moriarty. The last of the two Rathbone-Bruce pairings in the proper period setting – the later films updated the stories to the modern day – the film goes long on foggy London settings and gaslit atmosphere, art direction once again courtesy of Day and Peters, with photography by the great Leon Shamroy (CLEOPATRA).
DIR Alfred L. Werker; SCR Edwin Blum, William Drake, from the play "Sherlock Holmes" by William Gillette; PROD Darryl F. Zanuck. US, 1939, b&w, 85 min. NOT RATED
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
Thu, Nov 22, 9:15; Sat, Nov 24, 11:10 a.m.; Thu, Nov 29, 4:45
George C. Scott plays Justin Playfair, a New York City psychiatric patient who believes he's Sherlock Holmes. His physician? Dr. Mildred Watson (Joanne Woodward). The game is afoot! Scott and Woodward careen across 1970s Manhattan in this madcap and hilarious romantic adventure. A cult classic from director Anthony Harvey (THE LION IN WINTER).
DIR Anthony Harvey; SCR James Goldman, from his play; PROD John Foreman, Jennings Lang, Paul Newman. US, 1971, color, 98 min. RATED G
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959)
Sat, Dec 15, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, Dec 16, 11:05 a.m.
Holmes gets the Hammer Film Productions treatment in this suitably bloody-minded retelling of the detective's most famous adventure. With Peter Cushing as Holmes, André Morell as Watson and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville (intriguingly, Lee would go on to play Holmes in Hammer's 1962 film SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE, and later Holmes' older brother Mycroft in Billy Wilder's THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES).
DIR Terence Fisher; SCR Peter Bryan, from the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle; PROD Anthony Hinds. UK, 1959, b&w, 87 min. NOT RATED
WITHOUT A CLUE
Tue, Nov 27, 9:30; Thu, Nov 29, 8:45
In this inspired parody, Michael Caine plays a clueless Sherlock – actually, a drunken actor named Reginald Kincaid – hired to front for the real brains of the operation, doctor/detective/crime novelist Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley). What begins as merely a PR stunt – Watson wanting to provide his demanding public with the real-life model for his fiction – spins out of control, first as the ham actor
runs with his role, relegating the miffed Watson to second banana status, then as the two must function as a real detective duo once the nefarious Professor Moriarty (Paul Freeman) arrives on the scene.
DIR Thom E. Eberhardt; SCR Gary Murphy, Larry Strawther; PROD Marc Stirdivant. UK, 1988, color, 107 min. RATED PG
SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)
Sat, Dec 8, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Dec 9, 11:00 a.m.
Director Guy Ritchie interprets Sherlock Holmes as a mystery- solving action hero, persuasively played with a louche foxiness by Robert Downey, Jr., with Jude Law as a sturdy, war-hardened Dr. Watson. A fast-paced and effects-driven entertainment that also features a fine ensemble cast, including Mark Strong as black magic practitioner Lord Blackwood, Rachel McAdams as dangerous beauty Irene Adler, and Eddie Marsan as Scotland Yard's favorite functionary, Inspector Lestrade.
DIR Guy Ritchie; SCR Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg; SCR/PROD Lionel Wigram; PROD Susan Downey, Dan Lin, Joel Silver. US/Germany, 2009, color, 128 min. RATED PG-13
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Fri, Dec 14, 9:30; Tue, Dec 18, 9:00
A treasured project for over a decade – at one time, director Billy Wilder considered producing it as a Broadway musical. In this cheeky portrayal of the Great Detective, Wilder has him making mistakes, falling in love and joking about the Watson relationship. With Robert Stephens as Holmes, Colin Blakely as Watson and horror icon Christopher Lee as Holmes' brother Mycroft.
DIR/SCR/PROD Billy Wilder; SCR I. A. L. Diamond. UK, 1970, color, 125 min. RATED PG-13