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Hollywood Movie Memories » basil rathbone

Posts Tagged ‘basil rathbone’

The Court Jester

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

The Court Jester

Tagline – The Musical Romantic Adventure Of This Or Any Year!

Starring – Danny Kaye (Hubert Hawkins), Glynis Johns (Maid Jean), Basil Rathbone (Sir Ravenhurst), Angela Lansbury (Princess Gwendolyn).

Released – January, 1956

Directed By – Melvin Frank, Norman Panama

Produced By – Dena Enterprises

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – These are dangerous times in medieval England, as King Roderick has stolen the throne and disposed of the rightful King and his entire family. Or, so he thinks. There is one member of the family left… a baby. And that baby should be king.

A plot is underway to regain the throne. The Black Fox and his band of rebels enlist the aid of ex-carnival entertainer Hubert Hawkins. It is Hubert’s job to carry the baby across the country to safety when King Roderick’s men threaten to discover the rebels.

King Roderick, in an effort to gain the help of Sir Griswold of MacElwain in his fight against the rebels, has offered the hand of his daughter Princess Gwendolyn. The Princess refuses the marriage insisting that she will only marry for love.

Disguised as an old man, Hubert, and The Black Fox’s lieutenant, Maid Jean, who just happen to be in love, cross paths with Giacomo, the King’s new jester. Hubert and Maid Jean knock him unconscious and Hubert assumes his identity. This will gain them entrance into the castle where they hope to steal the key to a secret passage into the castle from which The Black Fox could attack.

One thing they did not count on was the fact that Giacomo was also an assassin that Sir Ravenhurst wishes to use to get rid of his enemies. Things get a little out of hand when the King’s daughter, Princess Gwendolyn, falls for Hubert, now Giacomo, and the King falls for Maid Jean. Also seriously complicating matters is a witch with some very effective spells and some poison pellets that are a threat to everybody.

And if that’s not enough, Sir Ravenhurst starts to believe that Hubert, posing as the court jester, is The Black Fox. Ravenhurst wants to eliminate Hubert, without revealing who he believes he is to the King, by having the King make Hubert a night. This would follow with a fight that would surely end with Hubert’s death.

NOTABLE: In 2004, The Court Jester was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The time setting for the film required Danny Kaye to wear tights. The films produces, unhappy with the way Kaye looked in them, insisted that he wear “leg falsies” to improve the shape of his legs.


Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Sherlock Holmes – The House of Fear

Tagline – HORROR stalking its halls!

Starring – Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Dr. John H. Watson), Aubrey Mather (Bruce Alastair), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Lestrade).

Released – March, 1945

Directed By – Roy William Neill

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Mr. Chalmers, an insurance agent, visits Holmes with a very strange tale indeed. It seems that a group of seven elderly, single gentlemen, who call themselves “The Good Comrades,” have taken up residence in an old Scottish castle.

One of the gentlemen has recently had delivered to him an envelope containing only seven orange pips. Later that evening his body was found murdered and mutilated. A few days later another envelope was delivered to one of the men and this time contained only six orange pips. That second man has also mysteriously died, with his body found battered at the base of some cliffs.

Mr. Chalmers insurance company has policies on each of the gentlemen living in the castle and he believes that one of the men is responsible for the deaths of the others in order to collect on the insurance proceeds. Chalmers is hoping that Holmes will aid in the investigation.

Holmes is happy of oblige, as the case intrigues him, but when Holmes and Watson arrive at the castle they find another body waiting. Unable to put a stop to the continuing murders, three more are killed with the bodies of each virtually unrecognizable.

One remains, Mr. Bruce Alastair, and Inspector Lestrade is convinced that he is the killer. But, something just doesn’t add up for Holmes and he is not so sure of Alastair’s guilt.

NOTABLE: The House of Fear is the tenth film in the Sherlock Holmes series to star Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Towards the end of the film, as Watson notices the tobacco urn is empty, the wolf’s head cane from The Wolf Man (1941) can be seen leaning against the back wall.

Captain Blood

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Captain Blood

Tagline – His sword carved his name across the continents – and his glory across the seas!

Starring – Errol Flynn (Peter Blood), Olivia de Havilland (Arabella Bishop), Lionel Atwill (Colonel Bishop), Basil Rathbone (Levasseur).

Released – December, 1935

Directed By – Michael Curtiz

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Cosmopolitan Productions

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – It is the time of the Monmouth Rebellion in England, and Dr. Peter Blood has just treated a wounded friend. For this act he is tried, convicted of treason, and sentenced to death.

King James II, believing slavery would be a more harsh sentence than even death, allows for a group of rebels, that include Peter Blood, to be sold and sent to the English colony at Port Royal. Blood is purchased by the beautiful Arabella Bishop, niece of military commander Colonel Bishop.

By chance, Blood sucessfully treats the Colonel for gout earning him the right to become his personal physician. Arabella’s interest in Peter is beyond that of a slave, or even her uncle’s physician. She was attracted to his rebellious behavior and continues to try to do him favors.

Blood, though appreciative, acts rudely toward Arabella and continues to plan an escape for himself and the other slaves. The opportunity for escape arrives when the town is attacked by the Spanish. Blood and the others steal a Spanish ship and embark on a life of piracy.

They wreck havoc on all English ships in the area and when the current governor is unable to capture them, Colonel Bishop is given the job to do so. Before starting this mission he sends Arabella to England for her safety.

Several years pass and Arabella, while returning to the Caribbean, is captured and held for ransom by Blood’s treacherous partner Captain Levasseur. While at Port Royal, the French are attacking. The port has little defense as Colonel Bishop is still hunting for Blood.

Now, only Blood and his band of pirates can return Arabella to safety and save the island from the invaders.

NOTABLE: Captain Blood received five Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Michael Curtiz as a write-in candidate), Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Music, Score, and Best Sound, Recording.

This was the first of nine films co-staring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. They would also team again with Basil Rathbone in 1938’s Robin Hood.

Actor Robert Donat was originally set to star in the film, but was unable due to health concerns. Leslie Howard was the second choice, but proved to be either unavailable or uninterested. Others, including Clark Gable and Ronald Colman, were considered before Warner Brothers decided to take a chance on the unknown Australian Errol Flynn.

Flynn was a notorious prankster and constantly played many on co-star Olivia de Havilland, including placing a dead snake in her underwear.

Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz would go on to work together twelve times even though the two strongly disliked each other.

Personal Note: This was Errol Flynn’s first swashbuckler, and it made him a star. Captain Blood may just be the best pirate film of all-time with exciting sea-battles, beautifully staged sword-fighting, great character acting, a wonderful musical score, and a tempestuous romance.


A Tale of Two Cities

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities

Tagline – The Immortal Story of Love and Intrigue During the French Revolution!

Starring – Ronald Colman (Sydney Carton), Elizabeth Allan (Lucie Manette), Edna May Oliver (Miss Pross), Reginald Owen (Stryver), Basil Rathbone (Marquis St. Evremonde).

Released – December, 1935

Directed By – Jack Conway

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – An elaborate adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic tells the story of two totally different men in love with the same woman.

It is the eve of the French Revolution, and Lucie Manette has just found out her father is not dead as previously thought, but has been a prisoner in the Bastille. Dr. Manette has now been released and Lucie travels to Paris to pick him up and bring him home to England.

On the trip across the English Channel, Lucie meets French aristocrat Charles Darnay who is sympathetic to the cause of the French people. She also meets Charles’ uncle the Marquis St. Evremonde, who is not.

Suspected of spying against England, Charles Darnay is arrested and tried for treason. He is defended by lawyer Sydney Carton who, with a little bit of cleverness, is able to get the prosecutions top witness to admit that he was mistaken about Darnay. Charles is let go.

Lucie thanks Carton for his brilliant effort and Carton finds himself falling in love with her. He realizes that there is no hope for him with Lucie as she and Darnay are also in love. Eventually, Lucie and Charles marry and have a daughter.

In the meantime, the Reign of Terror has fully engulfed France with the common people taking out their frustrations with the aristocrats through the regular use of the guillotine. Charles Darnay is lured back to Paris and is again arrested as a traitor. Lucie’s father, Dr. Manette pleads for mercy for his son-in-law, but to no avail.

Influential Madame DeFarge caring nothing about guilt or innocence, and harboring a grudge against the Evremondes, convinces the tribunal to sentence Darnay to death.

Can Sydney Carton come to Darnay’s rescue again? If he can, it will take a bit of blackmail, the drugging of the prisoner, and a replacement for Darnay’s appointment with the guillotine.

NOTABLE: A Tale of Two Cities received two Oscar nominations; Best Picture, and Best Film Editing.

In the story, both Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay were very much alike in appearance. Actor Ronald Colman, who wanted very badly to play Sydney Carton, agreed to the role with the stipulation that he not be asked to play both roles as was expected. How badly did Colman want to play Sydney Carton? Bad enough to shave off his trademark mustache.

This production was the fourth film version of A Tale of Two Cities. The others were previously made in 1911, 1917 and 1922.

A Tale of Two Cities was David O. Selznick’s last film for MGM. He was able to fund his own studio afterwards largely on the strength of this film’s box office receipts.


The Pearl of Death

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Sherlock Holmes in Pearl of Death

Tagline – The Secret Of The Gem Of Doom!

Starring – Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor Watson), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Lestrade), Evelyn Ankers (Naomi Drake), Miles Mander (Giles Conover).

Released – August, 1944

Directed By – Roy William Neill

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Sherlock Holmes is embarrassed and on the spot. The famous “Borgia Pearl” has been stolen right under his nose from the Royal Regent Museum by master criminal Giles Conover.

Conover is captured, but does not have the pearl resulting in his release. Shortly thereafter, an elderly Colonel is brutally murdered, with his body found in a pile of smashed china, and there appears to be no motive.

The nature of the crime arouses Holmes’ suspicion that the murder may be the work of “The Hoxton Creeper” known to be the right-hand man of Giles Conover. Another murder takes place as the body of an elderly woman is found… also surrounded by a pile of smashed china.

Now, Holmes himself becomes the target as two attempts are made on his life. It is now his belief that Conover is trying to again find the valuable pearl. A third killing takes place and a link to the murders is now realized. It is a bust of Napoleon.

After stealing the pearl, and trying to elude the police, Conover fled through a workshop and hid the pearl inside the china bust of Napoleon. There were six in the workshop at the time and Conover is trying to find the right one and will kill anyone in his way.