Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone

  • Highest Rated: 100% Sherlock Holmes and the Woman in Green (1945)
  • Lowest Rated: 17% Queen of Blood (1966)
  • Birthday: Jun 13, 1892
  • Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • South African-born Basil Rathbone was the son of a British mining engineer working in Johannesburg. After a brief career as an insurance agent, the 19-year-old aspiring actor joined his cousin's repertory group. World War I service as a lieutenant in Liverpool Scottish Regiment followed, then a rapid ascension to leading-man status on the British stage. Rathbone's movie debut was in the London-filmed The Fruitful Vine (1921). Tall, well profiled, and blessed with a commanding stage voice, Rathbone shifted from modern-dress productions to Shakespeare and back again with finesse. Very much in demand in the early talkie era, one of Rathbone's earliest American films was The Bishop Murder Case (1930), in which, as erudite amateur sleuth Philo Vance, he was presciently referred to by one of the characters as "Sherlock Holmes." He was seldom more effective than when cast in costume dramas as a civilized but cold-hearted villain: Murdstone in David Copperfield (1934), Evremonde in Tale of Two Cities (1935), and Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) (Rathbone was a good friend of Robin Hood star Errol Flynn -- and a far better swordsman). Never content with shallow, one-note performances, Rathbone often brought a touch of humanity and pathos to such stock "heavies" as Karenin in Anna Karenina (1936) and Pontius Pilate in The Last Days of Pompeii (1936). He was Oscar-nominated for his portrayals of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1936) and the crotchety Louis XVI in If I Were King (1938). In 1939, Rathbone was cast as Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the first of 14 screen appearances as Conan Doyle's master detective. He also played Holmes on radio from 1939 through 1946, and in 1952 returned to the character (despite his despairing comments that Holmes had hopelessly "typed" him in films) in the Broadway flop The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which was written by his wife, Ouida Bergere. Famous for giving some of Hollywood's most elegant and elaborate parties, Rathbone left the West Coast in 1947 to return to Broadway in Washington Square. He made a movie comeback in 1954, essaying saturnine character roles in such films as We're No Angels (1955), The Court Jester (1956), and The Last Hurrah (1958). Alas, like many Hollywood veterans, Rathbone often found the pickings lean in the 1960s, compelling him to accept roles in such inconsequential quickies as The Comedy of Terrors (1964) and Hillbillies in the Haunted House (1967). He could take consolation in the fact that these negligible films enabled him to finance projects that he truly cared about, such as his college lecture tours and his Caedmon Record transcriptions of the works of Shakespeare. Basil Rathbone's autobiography, In and Out of Character, was published in 1962.


Highest Rated Movies








82% The Great Mouse Detective Voice of Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes 1986
No Score Yet The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes Actor 1986
No Score Yet Hillbillys in a Haunted House Gregor 1967
No Score Yet Autopsy of a Ghost Canuto Perez 1967
No Score Yet Ghost in the Invisible Bikini Reginald Ripper 1966
17% Queen of Blood Dr. Farraday 1966
No Score Yet Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet Prof. Hartman, Lunar 7 1965
88% The Comedy of Terrors Mr. John F. Black 1964
71% Tales of Terror Carmichael 1962
33% The Magic Sword Lodac 1962
No Score Yet A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge 1962
92% The Last Hurrah Norman Cass Sr. 1958
No Score Yet The Black Sleep Sir Joel Cadman 1956
96% The Court Jester Sir Ravenhurst 1956
No Score Yet We're No Angels Andre Trochard 1955
No Score Yet Casanova's Big Night Lucio / Narrator 1954
No Score Yet The Wind in the Willows Actor 1949
93% The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Narrator/Policeman 1949
No Score Yet Love from a Stranger Actor 1947
80% Sherlock Holmes - Dressed to Kill Sherlock Holmes 1946
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes: Prelude to Murder Detective Sherlock Holmes 1946
No Score Yet Heartbeat Professor Aristide 1946
75% Terror by Night Sherlock Holmes 1946
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes in Pursuit to Algiers Sherlock Holmes 1945
100% Sherlock Holmes and the Woman in Green Sherlock Holmes 1945
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes in the House of Fear Sherlock Holmes 1945
No Score Yet Frenchman's Creek Lord Rockingham 1944
No Score Yet The Pearl of Death Sherlock Holmes 1944
No Score Yet Bathing Beauty George Adams 1944
No Score Yet The Scarlet Claw Sherlock Holmes 1944
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes in the Spider Woman Sherlock Holmes 1944
No Score Yet Crazy House Sherlock Holmes - Cameo appearance 1943
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes Faces Death Sherlock Holmes 1943
No Score Yet Above Suspicion Count Sigurd 'Sig' von Aschenhausen 1943
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes in Washington Sherlock Holmes 1943
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon Sherlock Holmes 1943
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Sherlock Holmes 1942
No Score Yet Fingers at the Window Dr. H. Santelle 1942
No Score Yet Crossroads Henri Sarrou 1942
No Score Yet The Black Cat Montague Hartley 1941
No Score Yet International Lady Reggie Oliver 1941
No Score Yet The Mad Doctor Actor 1941
91% The Mark of Zorro Captain Esteban Pasquale 1940
No Score Yet Rhythm on the River Oliver Courtney 1940
No Score Yet Tower of London Richard III 1939
91% The Hound of the Baskervilles Sherlock Holmes 1939
91% Son of Frankenstein Baron Wolf von Frankenstein 1939
100% The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes 1939
No Score Yet The Dawn Patrol Major Brand 1938
No Score Yet If I Were King King Louis XI 1938
100% The Adventures of Robin Hood Sir Guy of Gisbourne 1938
No Score Yet The Adventures of Marco Polo Ahmed 1938
No Score Yet Tovarich Gorotchenko 1937
No Score Yet Make a Wish Johnny Selden 1937
No Score Yet Confession Michael Michailow 1937
No Score Yet Love from a Stranger Gerald Lovell 1937
40% The Garden of Allah Count Ferdinand Anteoni 1936
78% Romeo and Juliet Tybalt 1936
No Score Yet Private Number Thomas Wroxton 1936
100% Captain Blood Capt. Levasseur 1935
No Score Yet Kind Lady Henry Abbott 1935
No Score Yet Last Days of Pompeii Pontius 1935
No Score Yet David Copperfield (The Personal History, Adventures, Experience, & Observation of David Copperfield the Younger) Mr. Edward Murdstone 1935
100% A Tale of Two Cities Marquis St. Evremonde 1935
100% Anna Karenina Karenin 1935
No Score Yet Loyalties Ferdinand de Levis 1934
No Score Yet Sin Takes a Holiday Reginald Durant 1930
No Score Yet A Notorious Affair Paul Gherardi 1930
No Score Yet The Bishop Murder Case Philo Vance 1930


Sherlock Holmes
Elementary, my dear Watson.
Baron Wolf von Frankenstein
Nothing in nature is terrifying when one understands it.
Sherlock Holmes
Elementary, my dear Watson.