May 20, 2017

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death.

Review #936: Sherlock Holmes Faces Death.

Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Dr. John Watson), Dennis Hoey (Inspector Lestrade), Arthur Margetson (Dr. Bob Sexton), Hillary Brooke (Sally Musgrave), Halliwell Hobbes (Alfred Brunton), Minna Phillips (Mrs. Howells), Milburn Stone (Captain Vickary), Gavin Muir (Phillip Musgrave), and Gerald Hamer (Major Langford) Directed by Roy William Neill (#846 - Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, #873 - Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, and #925 - Sherlock Holmes in Washington)

I hope that I am not boring you folks with the reviews of these certain films; I do indeed have some interest in these detective films, which clearly have some sort of appeal for me. This is the sixth of the Rathbone series (#583 - The Hound of the Baskervilles, #721 - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, #798 - Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, #873 - Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, and #925), but this one is a mystery revolving around murder in a house (instead of something involving the war, though there are military characters present). After three films of wartime infused spy plots, this certainly comes off as refreshing (honestly, the title is a bit strange - doesn't he always face people dying?). One of my favorite scenes is when Holmes realizes one of the clues in a "ritual" involves a checkerboard floor on one of the rooms, and naturally Holmes decides to use the people in the house in order to act the ritual out. The film runs smoothly enough at 68 minutes, mixing capable characters alongside Rathbone and Bruce (with his character having a bit more competence than before) as expected. One of the more quirky scenes with Rathbone is him talking to a squawking raven. It isn't the best Holmes film with Rathbone (for me, nothing tops the first film), but it certainly is an improvement over the previous three movies, in part because of the way it operates itself. The villain (Margetson), while not strong or particular clever, is somewhat satisfying in that he is not merely one dimensional. Brooke is a somewhat fair supporting actress (the most quirky scene involving her is one where she is reciting a ritual and a bolt of lightning strikes through a window and hits a suit of armor near her). It ends with a dialogue between the two main actors about a "new spirit abroad the land" that isn't about greed (inspired by an act of selflessness by Brooke's character), which is interesting if not somewhat broad. The mystery is entertaining enough, and this is a fairly good way to spend an afternoon with a serviceable type of movie like this.

Overall, I give it 7 out of 10 stars.

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