November 19, 2016
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.
Review #873: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.
Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor Watson), Lionel Atwill (Professor Moriarty), Kaaren Verne (Charlotte Eberli), William Post Jr. (Dr Franz Tobel), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Lestrade), Holmes Herbert (Sir Reginald Bailey), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson), and Henry Victor (Dr. Joseph Hoffner) Directed by Roy William Neill (#846 - Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man)
This is the fourth of the Holmes series with the Rathbone-Bruce duo (with the previous three reviewed here previously: #583 - The Hound of the Baskervilles, and #721 - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, #798 - Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror), premiering in Los Angeles in late December 1942. This film uses elements of the Doyle story The Adventure of the Dancing Men (actually just the code, but still), while taking place during the War, though this one is more of a spy flick. On the whole, it's a standard kind of flick that entertains in part due to Rathbone and Bruce, but also a relatively good climax. Obviously it's not a film to watch for faithfulness to Holmes stories (literally watch any other Sherlock adaptation), but the charm of the two actors along with a relatively sane plot make for good entertainment. I especially like how Holmes goads Moriarty on to drain his blood slowly, which is one of a few good moments in a climax that moves at its own pace. Obviously the tones of the war are prevalent once again (with a bombing test in the middle of the film), but there is some room for some sort of mystery. Atwill plays Moriarty fairly decently, stated with a good deal of coldness for an actor very prevalent in this era. Moriarty had already been portrayed in the series before (by George Zucco in the second film), but I suppose it's part of the tradition to reuse (or "revive") villains. The rest of the cast is okay, with some comic relief by Hoey and Bruce (the former would star in five more Holmes films), though the real focus is how the movie goes through the motions with some grace and some logic, with no real twist this time around. On the whole, it's an average film that would be nice for anybody looking to kill some time at 68 minutes, or just someone looking for some fine standard fare, with a bit of adventure for the time.
Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.