MPI Media has just released — today — Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray. For the first time ever all 14 films have been released together in this 5 disc collection. These are the original films from the Golden Age of Hollywood, starring the legendary Basil Rathbone, re-mastered with hours of bonus features. The set is coming from MPI Media, home to one of the largest Sherlock Holmes collections in the world.
I had a chance to preview the special features and speak with the Chief Archivist recently. For films that were released originally starting in the 1939, the extras are very similar to what you would find in a recent release. There are trailers for the films, movie stills, a poster collection and commentary. These are amazing extras that have been shelved for sixty years. The commentary for “Dressed to Kill” includes actress Patricia Morison, who played the co-star and villainess. Most notably however, is the footage of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle discussing writing Sherlock Holmes.
Here are a few highlights with Chief Archivist/Producer Todd Wieneke:
GeekDad: There are hours of bonus features; where did all of these extras come from?
Todd Wieneke: With the exception of an archival interview with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, all of the bonus features are original productions created exclusively for this release.
GD: How difficult is it to actually restore film? Just run it through a filter?
TW: It is quite difficult. Unfortunately, there are no real shortcuts or filters to help achieve this level of restoration. The film-to-film restoration is a long and complicated process that was undertaken by the experts at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The majority of the films in the collection were painstakingly preserved from the original 35mm nitrate elements to 35mm safety film prints and then transferred in High Definition. What you see now is what you would have seen theatrically on opening night in the early 1940s.
GD: Are any of you at MPI fans of Sherlock Holmes? Which version?
TW: Of course we are fans, and these films have been near and dear to us for many, many years.
These films were used as research for the Guy Ritchie remake starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. As you probably heard, the sequel “A Game of Shadows” is slated to be released December 2011. This collection should be able to hold Sherlock fans over until then!