Basil Rathbone


Actor
Basil Rathbone

About

Also Known As
Philip St John Basil Rathbone
Birth Place
South Africa
Born
June 13, 1892
Died
July 21, 1967
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

Tall and lean, with an interesting, angular face and a remarkable authoritative voice that lent considerably gravity to the most poetic of sentiments and the vilest of evil, Basil Rathbone's ability to excel at heroism and villainy kept him in demand for much of his career. The South African native had his start on the stage and thanks to acclaim from Broadway work like "The Swan" (1923-...

Photos & Videos

Hillbillys in a Haunted House - Movie Poster
The Magic Sword - Lobby Card Set
The Dawn Patrol (1938) - Scene Stills

Family & Companions

Ethel Marian Forman
Wife
Actor. Married in October 1914; separated after WWI; divorced c. 1924.
Ouida Bergere
Wife
Actor, manager, writer. Born in 1886; met Rathbone c. 1923; died of complications of a broken hip in 1974.

Notes

"Two profiles pasted together." --Dorothy Parker describing Rathbone

"Basil Rathbone was the best all around villain the movies ever had ... adept at any kind of role, including romantic drama and comedy ... at his best in villainy (including modern wife-killers and Nazis) and was absolutely unmatched at playing swaggering scoundrels of other days, where his rich delivery of full-blooded dialogue, while attired in doublets or court finery, made him truly a sight to behold -- and listen to." --From "The Bad Guys" by William K. Everson

Biography

Tall and lean, with an interesting, angular face and a remarkable authoritative voice that lent considerably gravity to the most poetic of sentiments and the vilest of evil, Basil Rathbone's ability to excel at heroism and villainy kept him in demand for much of his career. The South African native had his start on the stage and thanks to acclaim from Broadway work like "The Swan" (1923-24), he soon graduated to motion pictures. He was an excellent choice to play period villains in films like "David Copperfield" (1935), "Captain Blood" (1935), and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), and Rathbone proved so effective, typecasting seemed inevitable. However, he staved off such a career fate with his indelible portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master of deduction, Sherlock Holmes. From "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1939) through "Dressed to Kill" (1946) and seven seasons on radio, Rathbone did a superb job of communicating Holmes' unmatchable intelligence and sleuthing mastery. Rathbone eventually tired of the role and returned to the stage, which offered him a richer venue for his talents than acting as foils for comedians like Bob Hope and Danny Kaye and the rote villainy of low-budget horrors like "The Black Sleep" (1956). At the height of his craft, Rathbone performed with a degree of vividness and sincerity that was a hallmark of the finest classically-trained actors and his interpretation of Holmes was considered the definitive take on the literary icon.

The eldest of three children, Philip St. John Basil Rathbone was born on June 13, 1892 in Johannesburg, South Africa, but spent his formative years in England after the Rathbone family fled there during the Boer War. Acting was a passion he developed early in life, but Rathbone did not actively pursue it as a career until his late teens, when he finished his studies at Repton School and joined a repertory company run by his cousin, the esteemed Frank Benson. He gained experience through a steady schedule of theatre work and developed a reputation as a talented performer with an excellent capacity for the demands of Shakespearean drama. However, in the spring of 1916, he did his part for King and Country by enlisting in the British Army. Rathbone saw action in France the following year and received the Military Cross for the bravery he displayed on some especially dangerous daytime scouting missions.

Upon returning home, Rathbone resumed performing, but had to deal with personal issues when his first marriage ended in divorce. He made his movie debut in the British silent feature "Innocent" (1921) and within a year, was off to New York City for stage assignments, including a Broadway bow in "The Czarina" (1922). Shortly thereafter, the comedy "Trouping with Ellen" served as his American cinema debut, while Rathbone's superb performance on the New York stage in "The Swan" (1923-24) effectively established his acting credentials with the local theatre community and critics. In 1926, he wed his second wife, Spanish born actress Ouida Bergère. The couple proved to be an ideal match and they were together for decades. Further engagements followed on Broadway as Cassius in "Julius Caesar" (1927) and the titular role in "Judas" (1929), which Rathbone also co-wrote. While he had been effectively utilized in some silent movies, the dawn of the talkies found Rathbone working constantly in the medium, including a turn as celebrated detective Philo Vance in "The Bishop Murder Case" (1930).

He also had another opportunity to demonstrate his gift for the Bard as star of "Romeo and Juliet" (1934-35), a successful Broadway revival. Rathbone's aptitude for performing in adaptations of classic material was also very much in evidence via his portrayal of the heartless Mr. Murdstone in "David Copperfield" (1935), MGM's all-star version of the Dickens classic. The studio subsequently cast him in Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" (1935) and as Karenin in "Anna Karenina" (1935), and he made for a fine villain opposing Errol Flynn as the heroic "Captain Blood" (1935), a part that engendered in Rathbone a love of fencing. The lavish spectacle "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1935) also found Rathbone giving a memorably flamboyant performance as the notorious Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Although he had just played Romeo on Broadway, Rathbone was assigned the role of Tybalt when it came time for George Cukor's movie version of "Romeo and Juliet" (1936) and it brought him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. A second nomination followed for his performance as King Louis XI in "If I Were King" (1938).

Rathbone also essayed one of the most famous characters of his career that year: villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), an instant classic beloved by people of all ages for decades after its release. Lensed in absolutely stunning three-strip Technicolor, the widely beloved adventure tale delivered many witty and exciting highlights, including another invigorating swordplay duel pitting Rathbone - as the main henchman of villainous Prince John (Claude Rains) - against star Errol Flynn, a la their earlier encounter in "Captain Blood." With his indelible performances in films of this ilk, Rathbone seemed set to play a steady stream of upper-class miscreants for the rest of his career. However, within a year, he was cast as a very different sort of character that led to a new level of fame and a permanent place for Rathbone in popular culture.

At the beginning of 1939, Rathbone replaced Colin Clive as the mad doctor in residence for "Son of Frankenstein" (1939), the third entry in Universal's popular horror series. However, he also became the new incarnation of master sleuth Sherlock Holmes. With fellow Englishman Nigel Bruce in support as Dr. Watson, Rathbone gave the first of many performances as Holmes in an accomplished adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1939). Although several Holmes shorts and features had been produced over the years, none of the previous productions had so perfectly captured the rapport and camaraderie displayed by the team at the heart of this new incarnation. Rathbone's commanding performance made it very easy to forget any of the earlier attempts at the role and it quite understandably became the actor's most famous and enduring character outside of Sir Guy of Gisbourne.

"The Hound of the Baskervilles" was enough of a ticket seller to be followed a few months later by "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1939) and a like-named radio series with Rathbone and Bruce on NBC, which was a consistent success, running for seven years. However, in spite of all this renewed interest in Holmes, 20th Century Fox - which had already enjoyed considerable success with two concurrent mystery series centered around Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto - felt the grosses for the second film were disappointing and passed on producing any further Holmes features. Movie offers continued to come for Rathbone, however, and he appeared in the mildly horrific historical drama "Tower of London" (1939) and crossed swords with Tyrone Power in the popular swashbuckler "The Mark of Zorro" (1940). However, Rathbone donned Sherlock's deerstalker once again in 1943, when Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the character and moved him and Dr. Watson into the present day. Thus, over the course of 12 economical but diverting entries, the previously Victorian era detective occasionally found himself matching wits with Nazis and doing his part for the Allied War Effort.

The new batch of Holmes pictures occupied most of Rathbone's time and by 1946, he felt it was time for him to move on to other projects. Both the movie and radio series came to an end, and after a lengthy absence from live performing, Rathbone pledged to devote the lion's share of his time to the theatre. He set foot on Broadway again in "Obsession" (1946) and a revival of "The Heiress" (1947-48) followed, for which he received a Tony nomination. Rathbone spent much of 1950 on the Great White Way in another staging of "The Heiress" (1950), as well as turns in "Julius Caesar" (1950) and "The Gioconda Smile" (1950). He also briefly returned to the world of Sherlock Holmes in 1953 as the star of a like-named play about the great investigator, written by his wife, Ouida.

A steady stream of work also came via dramatic anthology TV programs like "Lux Video Theatre" (CBS/NBC, 1950-57) and "Suspense" (CBS, 1949-1954), with the latter providing the chance for him to play Holmes one final time. Colorful supporting engagements came in the big studio comedies "Casanova's Big Night" (1954), "We're No Angels" (1955) and "The Court Jester" (1956), but Rathbone also found himself in low-budget, mad scientist mode opposite fellow horror vets John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi in the oddball lower-tier thriller "The Black Sleep" (1956). Rathbone and Carradine resumed their villainy in the decidedly more upscale John Ford picture "The Last Hurrah" (1958), while Rathbone enjoyed a final Broadway engagement as a replacement for Raymond Massey in "J.B." (1958-59). The following year, he was honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame covering his film, television and radio work, and he published his autobiography, In and Out of Character, in 1962.

Now in his seventies, Rathbone continued to be active, but quality assignments became few and far between. He headed to Italy for "Pontius Pilate" (1962), but while Rathbone had famously played the role in "The Last Days of Pompeii," he was relegated to the secondary role of Caiaphus. However, he devoured the scenery with relish in "The Magic Sword" (1962) as an evil magician not above feeding princesses to fire-breathing dragons. The success American International enjoyed with "The House of Usher" (1960) launched a series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations and Rathbone was engaged to appear as an evil mesmerist in one of the stories that made up the Poe anthology "Tales of Terror" (1962). AIP also teamed him up with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre for the ghoulish farce "The Comedy of Terrors" (1963). The humor was broad and rarely original, but Rathbone enjoyed a number of inspired moments as an evil landlord with catalepsy who spouts "Macbeth" quotations.

Outside of a handful of guest star engagements on programs like "Dr. Kildare" (NBC, 1961-66) and a tour in his own one-man show, Rathbone had to settle for the likes of "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet" (1965) and "Queen of Blood" (1966) by mid-decade. However, even more demeaning jobs were ahead in "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" (1966) and the woebegone horror hoedown "Hillbillys in a Haunted House" (1967). He also travelled to Mexico City with fellow Golden Agers John Carradine and Cameron Mitchell for the local comedy "Autopsia de un Fantasma" ("Autopsy of a Ghost") (1968), in which all three were dubbed into Spanish by other performers. Even sillier than "Hillbillys," the picture did offer a certain amount of surreal fun, but was hardly a dignified outing for anyone involved. Alas, "Autopsia de un Fantasma" turned out to be Rathbone's last film as the 75-year-old actor suffered a fatal heart attack in his study on July 21, 1967. He was survived by Bergère, his wife for more than 40 years, a son and a daughter.

By John Charles

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Voice
Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967)
Gregor
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966)
Reginald Ripper
Queen of Blood (1966)
Dr. Farraday
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965)
Professor Hartman
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
John F. Black
Two Before Zero (1962)
Tales of Terror (1962)
Carmichael
The Magic Sword (1962)
Lodac
The Last Hurrah (1958)
Norman Cass, Sr.
Adventures into Space (1958)
Narrator
The Court Jester (1956)
Sir Ravenhurst
The Black Sleep (1956)
Sir Joel Cadman
We're No Angels (1955)
Andre Trochard
Casanova's Big Night (1954)
Lucio
Vienna Art Treasures (1950)
Narrator
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Narrating the Story of Mr. Toad
Terror by Night (1946)
Sherlock Holmes
Heartbeat (1946)
Professor Aristide
Dressed to Kill (1946)
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes in Dressed to Kill (1946)
The Woman in Green (1945)
[Sherlock] Holmes
The House of Fear (1945)
Sherlock Holmes
Pursuit to Algiers (1945)
Sherlock Holmes
Bathing Beauty (1944)
George Adams
The Pearl of Death (1944)
Sherlock Holmes
The Spider Woman (1944)
Sherlock Holmes
The Scarlet Claw (1944)
Sherlock Holmes
Frenchman's Creek (1944)
Lord Rockingham
Above Suspicion (1943)
[Count] Sig von Aschenhausen
Crazy House (1943)
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
Sherlock Holmes
Paris Calling (1942)
[Andre] Benoit
Fingers at the Window (1942)
Dr. H. Santelle [also known as Caesar Ferrari]
Crossroads (1942)
Henri Sarrou
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)
Sherlock Holmes
International Lady (1941)
[Reggie] Oliver
The Black Cat (1941)
[Montague] Hartley
The Mad Doctor (1941)
Dr. George Sebastien [also known as Dr. Frederick Langamann]
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Capt. Esteban Pasquale
Rhythm on the River (1940)
Oliver Courtney
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
Sherlock Holmes
The Sun Never Sets (1939)
Clive Randolph
Tower of London (1939)
Richard, Duke of Gloucester
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
Sherlock Holmes
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Baron Wolf von Frankenstein
Rio (1939)
Paul Reynard
The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938)
Ahmed
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Sir Guy of Gisbourne
If I Were King (1938)
Louis XI
The Dawn Patrol (1938)
Major Brand
Tovarich (1937)
Gorotchenko
Make a Wish (1937)
[Johnny] Selden
Love from a Stranger (1937)
Gerald Lovell
Confession (1937)
Michael Michailow
Romeo and Juliet (1936)
Tybalt, nephew to Lady Capulet
Private Number (1936)
[James] Wroxton
The Garden of Allah (1936)
Count Ferdinand Anteoni
The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)
Pontius [Pilate]
Captain Blood (1935)
Levasseur
David Copperfield (1935)
Mr. Murdstone
Anna Karénina (1935)
[Alexei Alexandrovitch] Karenin
A Feather in Her Hat (1935)
Captain [Randolph] Courtney
Kind Lady (1935)
Henry Abbott
A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
Marquis St. Evremonde
After the Ball (1933)
Jack Harrowby
A Woman Commands (1932)
Capt. Alex Pastitsch
The Bishop Murder Case (1930)
Philo Vance
Sin Takes a Holiday (1930)
Durant
A Lady Surrenders (1930)
Carl Vaudry
The Lady of Scandal (1930)
Edward
This Mad World (1930)
Paul
A Notorious Affair (1930)
Paul Gherardi
The Flirting Widow (1930)
Colonel Smith
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1929)
Lord Arthur Dilling
The Great Deception (1926)
Rizzio
The Masked Bride (1925)
Antoine
Trouping With Ellen (1924)
Tony Winterslip

Cast (Special)

Victoria Regina (1961)
Disraeli
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates (1958)
Dr Boekman
The Lark (1957)
Inquisitor
Svengali and the Blonde (1955)
Svengali
A Christmas Carol (1954)

Cast (Short)

Breakdowns of 1938 (1938)
Himself

Misc. Crew (Short)

Basil Rathbone (1962)
Archival Footage

Life Events

1921

Film acting debut in the British-produced "The Fruitful Vine"

1924

First notable feature film credit, "Trouping with Ellen"

1929

First films for several years and talkie debut, "The Last of Mrs. Cheyney", as Norma Shearer's leading man

1935

Returned to films after several years: enjoyed landmark villain roles as Mr. Murdstone in George Cukor's "David Copperfield", as Karenin in Clarence Brown's "Anna Karenina" and as Errol Flynn's dueling adversary in Michael Curtiz's "Captain Blood"

1936

Had featured role in the Technicolor film "The Garden of Allah"

1936

Supported Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard as Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet"; nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscar

1938

Garnered second Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination for "If I Were King"

1938

Cast as the villain Sir Guy of Gisbourne in "The Adventures of Robin Hood", featuring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland

1939

Cast as Richard III in "The Tower of London"

1939

First played Sherlock Holmes in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes"

1939

Had title role in "Son of Frankenstein"

1940

Again displayed his dueling abilities opposite Tyrone Power in "The Mask of Zorro"

1944

Once again displayed his flair for scoundrels as the ill-fated Lord Rockingham in "Frenchman's Creek"

1946

Last Sherlock Holmes films, "Dressed to Kill" and "Terror By Night"

1947

Returned to Broadway to play Mr. Sloper in "The Heiress"; received Tony Award

1954

First film in eight years, "Casanova's Big Night", starring Bob Hope; played Hope's valet

1956

Appeared as Scrooge in the NBC production "The Stingiest Man in Town"

1957

Acted alongside Julie Harris and Boris Karloff in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "The Lark" (NBC)

1958

Gave an effective performance as Spencer Tracy's political enemy in "The Last Hurrah"

1967

Last film, "Hillbillys in a Haunted House"

1986

Voice used as Sherlock Holmes in the animated children's film, "The Great Mouse Detective"

Photo Collections

Hillbillys in a Haunted House - Movie Poster
Hillbillys in a Haunted House - Movie Poster
The Magic Sword - Lobby Card Set
The Magic Sword - Lobby Card Set
The Dawn Patrol (1938) - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from Warner Bros' The Dawn Patrol (1938), starring Errol Flynn, David Niven, and Basil Rathbone.
Anna Karenina (1935) - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Anna Karenina (1935), directed by Clarence Brown and Starring Greta Garbo and Fredric March.
Tower of London - Title Lobby Card
Here is the Title Lobby Card from Tower of London (1939). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Last Days Of Pompeii, The - Greatest Man In Judea Once virtuous blacksmith turned gladiator turned horse and slave trader Marcus (Preston Foster), still devoted to his adopted son (David Holt), pursuing a prophesy that the greatest man in Judea would come to their aid, visits Pontius Pilate (Basil Rathbone, just introduced, in an atypical hairdo), in The Last Days Of Pompeii, 1935.
Last Days Of Pompeii, The (1935) - In Caesar's Name! SPOILER except the title suggests Vesuvius will erupt, more special effects are deployed as Marcus (Preston Foster) chooses his wounded Christian son (John Wood) over his Roman prefect master (Louis Calhern) and his troops, in the disaster epic from RKO’s King Kong team (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack), The Last Days Of Pompeii, 1935.
Sin Takes A Holiday (1930) - Nothing Like A Good Day's Sleep At the Riverdale mansion of lawyer Stanton (Kenneth McKenna), his secretary Sylvia (top-billed Constance Bennett), working the evening, helps Richards (Louis John Bartels) when his wife calls, as the clique (John Roche as Sheridan, Basil Rathbone as Durand) confabs, early in Sin Takes a Holiday, 1930.
Sin Takes A Holiday (1930) - Traveling Alone? Having just married her wealthy lawyer boss, for the sole purpose of ending his own romantic entanglements, secretary Sylvia (Constance Bennett) is headed for Paris as her reward, on an opulent RKO ocean liner, meeting Basil Rathbone as dashing Durand, a bachelor friend of her quasi-husband, in Sin Takes A Holiday, 1930.
Sin Takes A Holiday (1930) - Am I Supposed To Wait For Her To Die? Four outfits in about three minutes for Constance Bennett as Sylvia, now in Paris, being squired about by bachelor Durant (Basil Rathbone), enjoying the freedom she earned by marrying, for convenience, her rich lawyer boss (Kenneth MacKenna), pleased with the frustration it causes his ambitious girlfriend (Rita LaRoy), in RKO’s Sin Takes A Holiday, 1930.
David Copperfield (1935) - Brave Little Fellow Scenes introducing young David (Freddie Bartholomew), Peggotty (Jessie Ralph) and Murdstone (Basil Rathbone), all revolving around mother Clara (Elizabeth Allen) in MGM's David Copperfield, 1935, directed by George Cukor.
Mark Of Zorro, The (1940) - I Toy With A Sword Just introduced Captain Pasquale (Basil Rathbone) receives Don Diego (Tyrone Power, also the title character), just back to California from Spain, and not tipping his hand, as he meets the new governor and his wife (J. Edward Bromberg, Gale Sondergaard), in The Mark Of Zorro, 1940.
Dawn Patrol, The (1938) - Those Are The Orders Commander Brand (Basil Rathbone) interrupts his Royal Flying Corps unit, who party constantly to cope with stress, with chilling orders, top pilot Courtney (Errol Flynn) first defiant, then happy again with best pal Scotty (David Niven), in the 1938 version of the WWI drama, The Dawn Patrol.
Son Of Frankenstein (1939) - He'll Find No Friends Opening glimpse of Ygor (Bela Lugosi), then Burgomaster (Lawrence Grant) leading local resistance, cutting to young Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), eagerly returning to claim the family estate, with supportive wife Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson), in Son Of Frankenstein, 1939.
Son Of Frankenstein (1939) - Bullets In His Heart Big tech scene as young Dr. Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) overrules Ygor (Bela Lugosi) and with Benson (Edgar Norton) begins his surgical attempt to revive the monster, in Rowland V. Lee's Son Of Frankenstein, 1939.
Son Of Frankenstein (1939) - Maker Of Monsters Americanized Baron Wolf (Basil Rathbone), son of the late doctor, scoping out the wrecked laboratory, has just met mad Ygor (Bela Lugosi), who is eager to reveal a secret about the not so deceased monster (Boris Karloff), in Son Of Frankenstein, 1939.
Captain Blood (1935) - Pleasant Way To Die Over an hour into the film, the ultimate villain Captain Levasseur (Basil Rathbone) has appeared, partying with Errol Flynn (title character) and their crews in Tortuga, forming a fateful alliance, in Michael Curtiz' Captain Blood, 1935.

Trailer

Adventures of Robin Hood, The -- (Re-issue Trailer) The Sherwood Forest legend (Errol Flynn) leads his Merry Men in a battle against the wicked Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Crossroads (1942) - (Original Trailer) A French diplomat (William Powell) who's recovered from amnesia is blackmailed over crimes he can't remember.
Tale of Two Cities, A (1935) - (Re-issue Trailer) Ronald Colman stars in A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Charles Dickens' classic story of two men in love with the same woman during the French Revolution.
Fingers At The Window - (Original Trailer) A magician uses hypnosis to create an army of murderers in Fingers at the Window (1942) starring Basil Rathbone.
Anna Karenina (1935) - (Original Trailer) Greta Garbo stars in Anna Karenina (1935), a film adaptation of Tolstoy's classic tale of a woman who deserts her family for an illicit love.
Tales of Terror - (Original Trailer) Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone star in three of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Terror (1962).
Woman in Green, The - (Television Trailer) Basil Rathbone is the great detective investigating a string of mutilations in The Woman in Green (1945).
Sherlock Holmes in Dressed To Kill - (Re-issue Trailer) Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce take their last turns as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigating a string of murders over cheap music boxes.
Dawn Patrol, The (1938) - (Original Trailer) A flight commander in France almost cracks under the pressure of sending men to their deaths in The Dawn Patrol (1938) starring Errol Flynn.
Sherlock Holmes in Terror By Night - (Re-issue Trailer) Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) signs on to protect a priceless diamond from jewel thieves in Sherlock Holmes in Terror By Night (1946).
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon - (Re-issue Trailer) Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) fights Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill) to keep him from handing a new bombsight design to the Nazis.
Above Suspicion -- (Original Trailer) Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray are newlyweds who spend their honeymoon looking for a Nazi superweapon in Germany in Above Suspicion (1943).

Family

Sir Frank Benson
Cousin
Founder of the Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare Festival and one of the founders of British Actors Equity.
Rodion Rathbone
Son
Born in 1915.

Companions

Ethel Marian Forman
Wife
Actor. Married in October 1914; separated after WWI; divorced c. 1924.
Ouida Bergere
Wife
Actor, manager, writer. Born in 1886; met Rathbone c. 1923; died of complications of a broken hip in 1974.

Bibliography

Notes

"Two profiles pasted together." --Dorothy Parker describing Rathbone

"Basil Rathbone was the best all around villain the movies ever had ... adept at any kind of role, including romantic drama and comedy ... at his best in villainy (including modern wife-killers and Nazis) and was absolutely unmatched at playing swaggering scoundrels of other days, where his rich delivery of full-blooded dialogue, while attired in doublets or court finery, made him truly a sight to behold -- and listen to." --From "The Bad Guys" by William K. Everson