A Rathbone Mystery Worthy Of Sherlock Holmes
Can anyone help us out with these? They’re almost certainly from a television program … but what? … and when? Rathbone did a lot of TV --- from the late forties, all the way to the end. But wait --- what if we’re talking about a play? Basil’s obviously in some sort of dual role (Holmes and Watson?), so how could he pull off the scenes depicted here in a stage production? For that matter, how would they have put both Rathbones in the same scene on an early fifties TV broadcast? This thing gets more perplexing the more I think about it. The other Basil is more likely playing a butler, if these stills can be trusted --- notice how he’s adjusting the flowers in that one shot --- and Basil seated on the couch doesn’t look very Holmesian --- note the modern dress. That would seem to clash with the traditional deerstalker outfit he’s wearing in the other stills. I did check out Marcia Jessen’s incredible Basil Rathbone fan site (go HERE), and didn’t find any hints, although her coverage is so extensive, I may well have overlooked it (if you love Basil, and don’t we all, you must go there). We invite comments, speculation, wild guesses --- anything. For all I know, one of our informed readers will know exactly what it’s all about, and thereby clear up a mystery that’s been weighing heavily upon me for the fifteen or so years that I’ve had these baffling images.
Oh, and just a little something extra, included merely because it’s just impossible to pass up a thing so cool as this --- Basil shilling for Chesterfield in 1946. Note the reference to his final Holmes outing, Dressed To Kill. I’m told that Universal wanted to take a flyer on another year with the series, but Rathbone, feeling the stranglehold of typecasting, nixed the deal. Word is that pal Nigel Bruce was most annoyed. Hollywood gigs were hard to come by after that. Wonder if Universal execs got the word out that Basil wasn’t a team player? Pat O’Brien and Loretta Young both said they got the ice around town after they chose not to re-sign with their home lots (WB and Fox, respectively). Those moguls could damage a lot of careers as they sat together around their card tables at night.