The adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Le avventure di Sherlock Holmes) – USA 1939

Directed by: Alfred L. Werker

Starring: Basil Rathbone; Nigel Bruce; Ida Lupino; George Zucco.

A treasure to guard, a girl in danger, a fierce enemy to fight and thick dense fog everywhere: in London there’s a new mysterious case, but who could solve it? Sherlock Holmes, of course… it’s elementary!

“The adventures of Sherlock Holmes” is the second instalment of the popular series of fourteen films starring Basil Rathbone as the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson. If the first film of the series, The Hound of the Baskerville (released in 1939 and produced by 20th Century Fox,  like “The adventures…”), was based on the homonym Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, this film should be an adaptation of “Sherlock Holmes” a play written in 1899 by William Gillette, though there’s little resemblance to it. The story is in fact seems to be a pastiche of different adventures of Sherlock Holmes who, this time, must solve, in a foggy Victorian London, two cases at the same time to save a young girl from death and to protect the Crown jewels from Professor Moriarty’s plots.

After this movie the series production moved from 20th Century Fox to Universal (the reason is still uncertain), causing a change: the films released between 1940 and 1946 were set in the forties and after the entry of the USA in WWII in some of the Sherlock’s adventures there are explicit references to the war and the British detective must face the Nazis. The Rathbone/Bruce duo became so popular playing Holmes and Watson to make a series of radio broadcast based on Sherlock Holmes stories (The new adventures of Sherlock Holmes).

Sherlock Holmes, the eccentric, cocaine addict, intelligent and deductive London based Detective sharing his profession (and part of his life) with friend Dr Watson, is one of the most portrayed characters in cinema and TV history. Since the short (very short) Mutoscope “Sherlock Holmes Baffled” has been released in 1900 this classic character has been played by about 80 actors in more than 200 films and TV movies and series, also inspiring comedies and cartoons (in  1989 “The great mouse detective” Basil – like Rathbone – must fight Professor Ratigan).

In Theatres Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” (2009) and “Sherlock Holmes: a game of shadows” (2011), set in the Victorian era, made once again the British detective a box office star ( Robert Downey Jr., playing Holmes, also won a Golden Globe in 2010). On TV Sherlock Holmes lives in modern days: a BBC series presents Holmes as a young detective who assists the Metropolitan Police Service in London while a coming CBS series, set in New York, will bring something new in Sherlock Holmes adventures: this time Watson will be a woman (played by Lucy Liu).

A few more Sherlock’s performances (click on title to watch the trailer or a clip):

Sherlock Holmes baffled – USA 1900  Directed by: Arthur Marvin

Sherlock Holmes – USA 1922  Directed by: Albert Parker Starring: John Barrymore; Roland Young.

The adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ smarter brother – USA/UK 1975 Directed by: Gene Wilder Starring: Gene wilder; Marty Feldman; Madeline Kahn

Without a clue – UK 1988  Directed by: Thom E. Eberhardt Starring: Micheal Caine; Ben Kingsley.

Sherlock Holmes UK/USA 2009 Directed by: Guy Ritchie Starring: Robert Downey Jr.; Jude Law; Rachel McAdams; Mark Strong.

Un tesoro da proteggere, una ragazza in pericolo, un pericoloso nemico da battere e tanta, tanta nebbia, ovunque: a Londra  c’è un nuovo mistero, chi potrà risolverlo?  Sherlock Holmes ovviamente… è elementare!

“Le avventure di Sherlock Holmes” è il secondo episodio della popolare serie di quattordici film che ebbero come protagonisti Basil Rathbone, nei panni del famoso detective Sherlock Holmes, e Nigel Bruce, in quelli del Dottor Watson. Se la prima pellicola della serie, “Il mastino dei Baskerville” (uscito nel 1939 e prodotto dalla 20th Century Fox, come “Le avventure…”), era tratto dal romanzo omonimo di Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, questo dovrebbe essere un adattamento della commedia teatrale di William Gillette “Sherlock Holmes” (1899) con la quale però ha pochi punti di contatto. Infatti, la storia di questo film sembra più che altro un insieme di varie avventure di Sherlock Holmes che, questa volta, si trova a risolvere, nella nebbiosa Londra Vittoriana, ben due casi allo stesso tempo per salvare una ragazza dalla morte e per proteggere i gioielli della Corona Inglese dalle mire del Professor Moriarty.

Dopo questo film la produzione della serie passò dalla 20th Century Fox alla Universal provocando diversi cambiamenti: i film usciti tra il 1940 e il 1946 furono infatti ambientati nel presente (gli anni ’40) e dopo l’entrata in guerra degli Stati Uniti alcuni di questi fecero esplicito riferimento agli avvenimenti bellici con Sherlock Holmes costretto ad affrontare un nuovo nemico, i nazisti.

Sherlock Holmes, il detective londinese eccentrico, cocainomane, intelligente e deduttivo che condivide la professione (e in parte la vita) con l’amico Dottor Watson, è uno dei personaggi ritratti più volte nella storia di Cinema e TV. Dal corto (molto corto) “Sherlock Holmes Baffled” del 1900 a oggi questo personaggio è stato interpretato da circa 80 attori in più di 200 tra film, film per la TV e telefilm ispirando anche commedie e cartoni animati (è del 1989 il disneyano “Basil, l’investigatopo” nel quale Basil – come Rathbone – combatte il cattivo Professor Ratigan).

Al cinema i film “Sherlock Holmes” (2009) e “Sherlock Holmes – Gioco di ombre” (2011) ambientati nell’epoca Vittoriana e diretti dal regista inglese Guy Ritchie hanno reso, ancora una volta, il detective inglese una star del botteghino (e regalato nel 2010 un Golden Globe a Robert Downey Jr per la sua interpretazione di Holmes). In Tv Sherlock Holmes è invece diventato un personaggio dei nostri giorni: in una serie della BBC è un giovane detective che collabora con la Polizia Metropolitana di Londra, mentre (dal prossimo autunno) in una nuova serie di CBS vivrà a New York e avrà al suo fianco un Watson particolare: una donna (e ad interpretarla sarà Lucy Liu).

Qualche altra performance di Sherlock (guardate i trailer con un click sul titolo):

Sherlock Holmes baffled – USA 1900  Diretto da: Arthur Marvin

Sherlock Holmes – USA 1922  Diretto da: Albert Parker Con: John Barrymore; Roland Young.

Il fratello più furbo di Sherlock Holmes – USA/GB 1975 Diretto da: Gene Wilder Con: Gene Wilder; Marty Feldman; Madeline Kahn

Senza indizio – GB 1988  Diretto da: Thom E. Eberhardt Con: Micheal Caine; Ben Kingsley.

Sherlock Holmes GB/USA 2009 Diretto da: Guy Ritchie Con: Robert Downey Jr.; Jude Law; Rachel McAdams; Mark Strong.

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About Ella V

I love old movies, rock music, books, art... I'm intrested in politics. I adore cats. I knit...

5 responses »

  1. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Beautifully researched & written ~ grazie mille!
    For you I have found some online bits of different Montalbano books translated into English. If you wish, you can look at them, and see what you think about the translation. Sorry the url is so long.
    Ciao, bella!

    http://www.amazon.com/Shape-Water-Inspector-Montalbano-Book/dp/0142004715/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343391152&sr=1-2&keywords=Montalbano#reader_0142004715

    • Ella V says:

      Thank you. I have read the extract and think that in fact there’s something missing but the Italo-sicilian Camilleri’s prose (that’s sometimes challenging for italians too, italian dialects may differ enormously from italian and from one another) could be translated with difficulty in a different way, the translator should choose a dialect or slang to use instead of sicilian, not so easy I suppose.

      • CurlsnSkirls says:

        I feel you are correct… This reminds me of the difficulty translating poetry, where rhythm and rhyme are so important. Also as in music, even besides opera. To make a joke, as in Montalbano, sometimes may involve these 2 additional elements, which is difficult to achieve when translating into basically a Germanic language (English) from the romantic Italian… pardon these random thoughts! Ciao, bella!

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