Reflections of the Way Life (or the Undead) Used to Be
Basil Rathbone examines Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in this publicity still from 1939's The Son ofFrankenstein. If that wasn't spooky enough, that very same year Rathbone had to contend with a Baskervilles hound!
Happy 130th birthday (in heaven) to the distEnglished Shakespearean stage actor Basil Rathbone. A versatile player, Rathbone appeared in costume dramas, swashbucklers and horror movies. As a tiny lad, I was exposed to his work in the latter genre. On a regular basis, my big brother took me to see horror movies in theaters, and I voraciously watched them at home on TV, including several with Basil Rathbone in the cast.
Looking over Basil's filmography, I determined that the earliest of his pictures I've seen is the 1929 film The Bishop Murder Case. I watched that one because I am a big fan of silent film era actress Leila Hyams. I also saw Basil Rathbone in The Last Days of Pompeii (1935), Son of Frankenstein and The Hound of the Baskervilles, the two 1939 movies referenced in your post, Tower of London (1939), The Mad Doctor and The Black Cat (both 1941) and The Black Sleep (1956) . I own a giant lobby poster of the latter film, The Black Sleep, and distinctly remember going to see the film in a theater with my brother. It is very disturbing. I also saw Rathbone in Tales of Terror (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1963) and Queen of Blood (1966).
Thanks for celebrating the birthday of one of my favorite icons of horror and mystery, Basil Rathbone. Have a great week, good buddy Kirk!
Shady, I just took a look at The Black Sleep movie poster and saw Plan 9 from Outer Space actor Tor Johnson. That right there makes me want to seek it out.Delete
As for some of the other movies you mentioned, American-International gave a lot of work to Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre in the 1960s, which also happened to be each actor's final decade upon this Earth. The Comedy of Terrors (screenplay by Richard Matheson) was a great comic coda for all three.
He was a big star in his day, wasn't he? Basil Rathbone is still one of my most favourite Sherlock Holmes-es.ReplyDelete
Debra, Rathbone appeared in many, many movies, often as debonaire villains. As Shady noted, Rathbone was a mainstay of swashbucklers in the 1930s, where he was a perennial sword-wielding foe of Errol Flynn. Hound of the Baskervilles meant Rathbone finally got to play the good guy. He did that and another Sherlock Holmes movie for 20th Century Fox, both high-class productions. The 12 other Holmes movies Rathbone did for Universal. Those were basically B-movies (low-budget movies paired with high-budget movies on a double-feature) and like so many B-movie series, have a kind of old television feel to them. That they were updated from the 1890s to the 1940s (Holmes drives a car, listens to the radio, and in a few of them, even battles Nazis) make them cheesier still. Yet they're very entertaining, difficult for me personally to pass up watching if I'm channel-surfing, because Rathbone is so suburb in them.Delete
Basil Rathbone. Now there's a name I haven't heard in a LONG time.ReplyDelete
I'm trying to keep him from slipping into obscurity, Mike.Delete
Ahhh Kirk I know this man! He is my all time favourite Holmes!!ReplyDelete
He's not a bad Doctor Frankenstein either, AnankaDelete
I love that photograph!! I love some of the old horror films and I watch them via Svengoolie on Saturday Nights.ReplyDelete
Very clever way of promoting the movie, isn't it, JM?Delete