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Review of An Evening With Sherlock Holmes

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Review of An Evening With Sherlock Holmes

Old 05-01-00, 10:15 PM
  #1  
Topgun94
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I just received An Evening with Sherlock Holmes box set from Focus Films and I am pleasantly surprised. The back of the box claims “the four movies were miraculously restored from the only known surviving prints, which were extremely damaged.” The restoration work is not on par with Criterion, but the films look pretty good considering the age and poor condition of the prints. It would have been nice if they could have cleaned up the images and the sound more, but the films are still enjoyable and the defects are not too distracting. Focus also put in a few nice touches like theatrical trailers, a rare-on camera interview with Arthur Conan Doyle, still photo scrapbooks, and episodes 1-30 of the Sherlock Holmes radio dramas from the 40’s that have stills from the films shown while the broadcasts are played. They even include the original wine commercials.

First off is Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. An interest film, because of the WWII themes that are interjected into the world of Holmes. I found it entertaining, but seeing it now the WWII aspect seems silly. Like many of the films during WWII it is loaded with German spies trying to steal secrets from the Allies. It also includes the famous Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty. It also includes the theatrical trailer, still gallery, and 4 hours of “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” radio broadcasts.

Second is The Woman in Green, which was my favorite of the four films in the box set. Once again Professor Moriarity is back to challenge Holmes. I won’t go into the details of the story, as they are all pretty predictable. The disc includes the re-created theatrical trailer, still gallery, and 4 hours of “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” radio broadcasts.

Third is Terror by Night, which is set aboard a train and stars a new villain Colonel Sabastian Moran. This film was fairly entertaining, but only a very short 54 minutes. It includes the theatrical trailer, still gallery, rare on-camera interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and 3 ˝ hours of “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” radio broadcasts.

Last is Dressed to Kill, the last of the Universal Holmes pictures. This one pits Holmes against a femme fatal. I found this one to be my least favorite, but still liked watching it. It includes the theatrical trailer, still gallery, and 3 ˝ hours of “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” radio broadcasts.

Though these are not the best of the Sherlock Holmes films, I found them very enjoyable and the 15 hours of radio broadcasts made this box set a great buy. If you are a fan of 30’s and 40’s mystery films like I am you will really enjoy this box set. I will be looking forward to more DVDs from Focus films. They seem to put more quality into their releases than other companies like Mandacy.


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Aaron
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Old 05-02-00, 03:38 AM
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I'm pretty damned surprised they put 15 hours of audio on the discs along with, what, six hours of video? Pretty amazing!

I do get suspicious, though, when studios releasing old films state that the print was extremely damaged and extensive cleanup led to a mediocre video transfer. Not having seen the original print, I wonder if this is just a cheap way of explaining away subpar video quality...? Of course, all old films take damage, but whenever I hear this claim I always wonder just how bad the print looked before restoration.

- David Stein
Old 05-02-00, 08:29 PM
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Topgun94
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It is broken out on 4 discs and believe it or not they are single layered. The movies are all around 70 minutes with one only being 54 minutes and I am guessing the audio only radio tracks don't take up that much space. They could have put the whole set on 2 dual layered discs. However, each of the 4 DVD Alpha cases has a reproduction of the original movie poster for the film on the disc so that is a nice touch.

I agree with you on the restoration, but considering these where not big time films I doubt Universal was too worried about how they were stored. I would not be surprised if they were truly in horrible condition when Focus got them. For the reasonable price I paid for them with online discounts I am very happy with them.

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Aaron
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[This message has been edited by Topgun94 (edited May 02, 2000).]
Old 05-05-00, 07:44 PM
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I received the set also and have very mixed feelings. The packaging is great; the menus are very good; the stills are interesting; and the radio shows are a bonus. Only the prints were disappointing.

However, I agree with David that the statement about the films being "miraculously restored from the only known surviving prints, which were extremely damaged" is another way of saying that "we could only find public domain copies, so here it is". I don't think that FocusFilm is trying to pull a fast one like other companies (Madacy, etc.), but I wonder if they made a true effort to track down better copies.

I remember watching the series every Sunday night on a local station here in Detroit about 25 years ago. The prints seemed fine then. Granted, films can degrade over 25 years. However, cable stations keep showing the Rathbone/Bruce series and the prints don't seem that bad.

I don't regret buying the set, because it was a great series and they don't turn up all that often on TV (and FocusFilm did a great job with the packaging). I'm just very let down that a better print wasn't found.

I guess I've been spoiled watching Columbia's classics on DVD (Only Angels Have Wings, Lost Horizon, Mr. Deeds, etc.).
Old 05-07-00, 07:55 AM
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who is carrying this set guys and how much you paid?
sounds interesting.

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Old 05-07-00, 08:28 AM
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Topgun94
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I preordered mine way back when Reel had it 40% off. I ordered it with something else and used the old BFL $25 off of $50 that was around at the time. So, around $16.99 give or take. I know it sells for about $48.99 now that it is only 30% off.

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Aaron
My DVD Collection
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Old 01-30-02, 05:22 PM
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Can any body tell me the names of the radio shows included on the discs, because i'd rather not end up purchasing the set and ending up with duplicates of the radio shows i bought on audio tape.

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