Film historian Leonard Maltin has defined the character actors who appeared in films of the 30s and 40s as “Hollywood’s Real Stars.” Roy William Neill, who directed nearly all of the Sherlock Holmes mystery-adventures of the 1940s that starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, had, as was the case with directors John Ford and Preston Sturges, a repertory company of character actors and actresses whom he liked to use.
This book is a tribute to those 68 men and women whose names appeared in small print below the stars, and who graced hundreds of films with their diversified performances. More often than not these films, be they star-studded spectacles or poverty row quickies, would be that much the better for their presence.
"Michael A Hoey, whose father Dennis was the unforgettable Lestrade to Rathbone’s Holmes, takes a different and equally interesting approach in Sherlock Holmes & the Fabulous Faces: The Universal Pictures Repertory Company. His personal acquaintance with many of the artistes who contributed to these and other Universal productions gives his biographical sketches an unusually engaging immediacy. It’s fascinating to follow the careers of actors such as Reginald Denny, Mary Gordon, Olaf Hytten and Frederick Worlock. The critical summaries of the films themselves are perceptive, pertinent and equally engrossing. Michael Hoey has given us a book that’s both important and entertaining."
- Newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London
“How fitting that the son of Dennis Hoey, who portrayed Inspector Lestrade in the twelve Universal Sherlock Holmes films of the 1940s, should write a book paying tribute to the character actors and supporting players who comprised the series (and studio’s) informal repertory company. This is a most welcome volume.”
- Leonard Maltin
Michael Hoey is the son of Dennis Hoey, who played Inspector Lestrade in six of the films. His book Sherlock Holmes & the Fabulous Faces: The Universal Pictures Repertory Company is an encyclopedic, but eminently readable account of the making of these films and the scores of actors, writers, directors and producers involved. Sherlock Holmes had an extraordinary genius for minutiae; he understood their importance. Hoey has followed the Master in this. He has delved very deeply to weave a biographical entry for each of the men and women who helped make these minor masterpieces. Included are production notes, costs, shooting times, and other fascinating information. As he has spent his life in the business, Hoey has personal insights into many of the actors and their careers; then, too, he recounts his visit to the studios during the course of filming The Pearl of Death, and the impression it made on him.
If, like me, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce were your first Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, or if you’re an old-time film buff, you will enjoy Michael Hoey’s affectionate examination of the Universal Sherlock Holmes series.
- The Baker Street Breakfast Club Reviewed By Jeff Bradway
Michael Hoey writes entertainingly and knowledgably about these films and their casts, which (for obvious reasons) have a special place in his heart. Since he sometimes visited his father's sets, where he met producer-director Roy William Neill and other central figures in the Holmes series, Hoey also brings a rare, first person perspective to the subject. All this serves his book wonderfully and makes Sherlock Holmes & the Fabulous Faces an esential purchase for anyone who treasures the Rathbone-Bruce Holmes pictures.
- Mark Clark - Monsters From the Vault
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