May 19, 2016
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror.
Review #798: Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror.
Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor John H. Watson), Evelyn Ankers (Kitty), Reginald Denny (Sir Evan Barham / Voice of Terror), Thomas Gómez (R.F. Meade), Henry Daniell (Sir Anthony Lloyd), Montagu Love (General Jerome Lawford), Olaf Hytten (Admiral Sir John Fabian Prentiss), and Leyland Hodgson (Captain Roland Shore) Directed by John Rawlins.
Following two excellent Holmes films (#583 - The Hound of the Baskervilles, and #721 - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) were released by 20th Century Fox in 1939, Universal Studios bought the rights from the Doyle estate to make films about Holmes - updated to the present day. In fact, the opening title card talks about how Holmes (and Watson) is "ageless, invincible and unchanging", with this movie being about Holmes trying to take down a Nazi agent using propaganda through the radio (which did occur during the War). It is an interesting premise, but I can't resist to wonder if there were other movies dealing with plots like this. There is at some sort of mystery to the film, and the movie does move quickly enough, at 65 minutes (if you wonder why I always mention the length of a movie as positive/negative, it's merely a way to try and justify how the movie does with regards to pacing, or if a movie is too long or too short to try and enjoy, for my taste anyway. In this case, the movies does a fine job in terms of satisfying its goal of telling a story with a short length).
While it is a b-movie, it is at least a movie that tries its best to be entertaining while dealing a subject as serious as treason during wartime, not coming off as cheesy, nor too overblown (it's interesting to note that the movie ends with a title card stating to buy war bonds). Rathbone and Bruce are consistent as ever, making for a fine duo that play well off each other. Ankers is also pretty decent, making a good contribution to the plot. Denny (there really isn't spoilers if the movie is over 70 years old, so no complaints) is okay, coming off as so unassuming that you really don't think he's the villain, because...well, it is strange to presume that a member of the "Inner Council of British Intelligence" would be behind all of this - unless he was an impostor, because Holmes is a master at deducing that sort of thing, and it helps that I'll let it slide unopposed. It's a movie that is fairly passable for its time, even if it isn't as enjoyable as the previous films. Bottom line: Take it for what it is worth.
Countdown: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2...
Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.