American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for 80 Years!

Click to Print Page 1 or Page 2 or Full Text of July Schedule!
Series compiled by: Dennis Bartok and Chris D. Additional Program Notes by John Palmer.

 

 

 

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Special Thanks to: Jeffrey Nemerovski/CBS-KING WORLD; Todd Wiener/UCLA FILM & TELEVISION ARCHIVE; Chip Blake and Schawn Belston/20th CENTURY FOX; David Shepard; John Kirk and Latanya Taylor/MGM-UA; Mike Schlesinger/COLUMBIA PICTURES REPERTORY; Paul Ginsburg/UNIVERSAL DISTRIBUTION; Stuart Lisell; Billy Robertson; Jeff Joseph.

 

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $9 general admission unless noted otherwise.
Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.
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The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<< July 2 - 4, 2004 >>

"ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON" -- SHERLOCK HOLMES ON FILM

Presented in association with the British Academy of Film & Television Arts/Los Angeles (BAFTA/LA)

Arthur Conan Doyle began the saga of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his redoubtable partner, Dr. Watson, with little fanfare in two novels, A Study In Scarlet and Sign Of The Four, published in 1887 and 1890 respectively. It wasn’t until the appearance of the first short story, Scandal In Bohemia, that the unorthodox detective of 221-B Baker Street really fired the public’s imagination. From then on, the popularity of Holmes mushroomed through a multitude of stories until Conan Doyle, tiring of the brouhaha in 1893, killed off his creation with The Final Problem in a mutually fatal struggle with his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty. However, inspired by a friend’s hair-raising accounts of the Devon moors, Conan Doyle decided to resurrect the private eye in 1901 in what ended up becoming his most famous adventure, The Hound Of The Baskervilles.

Cinematically, Holmes had his birth in 1903 in an obscure American short, "Sherlock Holmes Baffled." More Holmes films followed, blossoming exponentially until scores upon scores of films were turned out in America, Britain, Denmark, France and Italy throughout the silent years – often pilfering strange influences (Edgar Allan Poe) and disparate literary characters like Arsene Lupin and Raffles to pit against the king of private eyes. Indeed, there was a staggering legion of talented actors such as John Barrymore, Clive Brook, William Gillette, Raymond Massey and Arthur Wontner who played the great detective, before Basil Rathbone ever took up the magnifying glass in his first outing as Holmes in 1939’s THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. Of all the actors who’ve portrayed Holmes before or since, none remains so fixed in the public’s mind as Rathbone. His Holmes – tremendously energetic, furiously intelligent, with a lean, noble profile and a hawk’s eye for detail – remains the golden standard by which all others are judged. Ironically, the Rathbone Holmes films are (apart from the first two) among the least faithful to the original Conan Doyle stories, taking great liberties with the character and plots by updating Holmes to the mid-1940s, battling a succession of often-Nazi villains in entertaining movies like SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE SPIDER WOMAN and THE PEARL OF DEATH.

The 1950s saw Holmes return in a number of TV programs, but no motion picture of note until near the end of the decade. Hammer Films, flush from success with their first period gothics, THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA, dusted off Conan Doyle’s most popular novel, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, as a vehicle for their two new horror stars, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, as Holmes and Sir Henry Baskerville respectively, with the superlative Andre Morell as Dr. Watson. The astonishing result was a streamlined, intense chiller with all the gothic touches that were already becoming Hammer’s trademark – a Holmes film that many regard as among the finest ever made. Although there was a superb, long running British TV series (1984-1994) based on Conan Doyle’s yarns with Jeremy Brett as the maestro detective, most of Holmes’ cinematic forays since the late 1950s have not been adapted from the original stories. Instead, filmmakers have come up with their own unique and eccentric twists, including encounters with Sigmund Freud (THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION) and Jack The Ripper (A STUDY IN TERROR and MURDER BY DECREE), not to mention Billy Wilder’s elegant "reinvention" of the detective in THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.

We’re very happy to present this delicious sampling of some of the most entertaining Holmes films, the equivalent of curling up by the fire sheltered from the foggy cold, armed with a thick collection of the best detective stories ever written – movies that harken back to an earlier, simpler time when a man, using his superior intellect, could defeat the forces of evil without the aid of bullets, bombs or overblown pyrotechnics!

 

Friday, July 2 – 7:00 PM

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, 1939, 20th Century Fox, 80 min. Dir. Sidney Lanfield. "Murder, my dear Watson. Refined, cold-blooded murder!" Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce team up for the first time as crime-solving duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in this adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, launching a successful string of 14 films and more than 200 radio shows together. When the heir to the Baskerville fortune arrives to claim his title, he is marked for death at the jaws of a mysterious hound who has plagued generations of his family. To save himself, Baskerville calls upon the famous detective from Baker Street. Preceded by a rare filmed interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes (approx. 10 min., courtesy David Shepard). Sherlock Holmes expert Leslie Klinger will introduce the screening and share some comments on Holmes and his creator.

 

Friday, July 2 – 9:00 PM

Double Feature – UCLA Restored Prints!

SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH, 1943, CBS-King World, 68 min. Dir. Roy William Neill. A largely entertaining Holmes emerges in this spooky, extremely-loose adaptation of Conan Doyle’s "The Musgrave Ritual." Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce), now retired, is overseeing Musgrave Manor – a home for psychologically-distressed war veterans. After he calls upon Holmes (Basil Rathbone) to assist with solving an attempted murder, a mysterious chain of killings takes place. Dissecting a bizarre Musgrave family funeral ritual, Holmes leads a life-size chess game with human players – long before the days of Harry Potter! – to find the killer.

SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE SPIDER WOMAN, 1943, CBS-King World, 63 min. Dir. Roy William Neill. Drawn from several different Conan Doyle stories, this macabre tale opens with Holmes (Basil Rathbone) faking his own death in order to investigate - incognito - a series of so-called "pyjama suicides." When a string of out-of-luck gambling addicts take their own lives after a night’s sleep, Holmes suspects more than mere coincidence. Going undercover as a gambler, he begins to suspect a beautiful socialite, the "female Moriarty" (deliciously portrayed by Gale Sondergaard).

 

Saturday, July 3 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature:

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, 1959, MGM/UA, 87 min. Director Terence Fisher (HORROR OF DRACULA) brings all the macabre virtues of Hammer studios to bear, including Jack Asher’s sumptuous color cinematography and James Bernard’s baroque score, in this perfectly orchestrated adaptation of the most famous of the four Holmes novels. The great Peter Cushing (who played Holmes many times for television, but only once on film) embodies the intrepid sleuth like few others, delivering a taut, no-nonsense portrayal, while Andre Morell brings rare integrity and intelligence to the oft-underestimated Dr. Watson. Co-starring Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville.

A STUDY IN TERROR, 1965, Columbia, 95 min. James Hill’s fast-moving direction steers John Neville (ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN) as Holmes, on a collision course with Jack the Ripper in this unpretentious, well-paced thriller – more violent and pulpy than most earlier Holmes films, in keeping with the grisly Ripper crimes. The cast includes the incomparable Robert Morley as Holmes’ petulant brother, Mycroft, Donald Houston as Dr. Watson and Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade. (Coincidentally Finlay would reprise the Lestrade role in the later MURDER BY DECREE, a Holmes film with similar subject matter.)

 

Saturday, July 3 – 8:45 PM

Double Feature:

THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION, 1976, Universal, 113 min. Dir. Herbert Ross. Author Nicholas Meyer adapted his own novel for this superb "What if Sherlock Holmes met Sigmund Freud?" mystery, revolving around Holmes’ infamous cocaine addiction (which is referred to in the film’s title). Nicol Williamson is a brilliant, tortured Holmes opposite Alan Arkin’s very humane Dr. Freud, with support from Laurence Olivier as Professor Moriarty, Vanessa Redgrave as a rare love interest for the great detective, and an oddly-cast Robert Duvall as Dr. Watson. Wonderfully directed by Herbert Ross (PENNIES FROM HEAVEN), with cinematography by Oswald Morris (THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, OLIVER!) and production design by Ken Adam (famous for his work on the 007 movies). An imaginative and beautifully mounted film on every level.

MURDER BY DECREE, 1978, Stuart Lisell, 112 min. Once again, Sherlock Holmes (a well-cast Christopher Plummer) goes up against Jack the Ripper. But before long he’s wondering if the killer is a lone maniac - or the manipulated instrument of a larger government conspiracy - in director Bob Clark’s fascinating tapestry of fog-shrouded London intrigue. James Mason gives many other actors who came before a run for their money as arguably the finest Dr. Watson ever. With an amazing supporting cast including David Hemmings, Frank Finlay, Genevieve Bujold, John Gielgud, Anthony Quayle and Donald Sutherland. [Please note that this, the only available print of the film, is slightly faded.]

 

Sunday, July 4 – 2:00 PM

Double Feature – UCLA Restored Prints!

THE SCARLET CLAW, 1944, CBS-King World, 74 min. Dir. Roy William Neill. While attending an occult convention in Canada, Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) receive a telegrammed cry for help from a woman from the eerie village La Mort Rouge. Upon arrival, they’re greeted by a series of slayings, aging actors and frightened tales of a fire-spewing marsh monster that lurks after dark. Rathbone delivers one of his finest performances as Holmes in this beautifully shot, delectably creepy mystery.

THE PEARL OF DEATH, 1944, CBS-King World, 68 min. Dir. Roy William Neill. After the notorious "Pearl of Death" – aptly named for its greed-and-murder-inducing history – finds a home in a London museum, it is promptly stolen by a clever criminal. When the prime suspect is caught sans pearl, Holmes (Basil Rathbone) begins a life-threatening investigation and encounters a bizarre series of murders involving broken spines and smashed china. As Holmes fast approaches an explanation, he himself is faced with succumbing to the legacy of the cursed pearl. Co-starring Nigel Bruce, with Rondo Hatton in his first appearance as "The Creeper" (a role he would reprise in a series of low-budget Universal thrillers).

 

Sunday, July 4 – 5:00 PM

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, 1970, MGM/UA, 125 min. Writer/director Billy Wilder’s poignant blend of rueful romance and adventure examines the relationship between Holmes (Robert Stephens) and Watson (Colin Blakely), as they try to unravel a mystery threatening Queen Victoria. Arguably Wilder's last great masterpiece, the film was sadly cut down from its original version and can probably never be restored to its full length – but what remains is one of the most fascinating of all Holmes films. With Genevieve Page, Christopher Lee.