Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sherlock Holmes x 14

Unfortunately I haven't had the time to re-watch the Sherlock Holmes films this week that I dedicated to Basil Rathbone (I'm a little optimistic about my abilities sometimes).
I will however not disappoint you by writing nothing about the no less than fourteen Sherlock Holmes films. This post will include them all - summary of the film, a film poster and additional videoclips and links to IMDb and YouTube (if the film can be found there).
Have fun!

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Director: Sidney Lanfield
USA 1939
80 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

The first film in the Sherlock Holmes series is, in comparison, quite true to the original story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson (always played by Rathbone's personal friend Nigel Bruce) investigates the foggy moors of 19th century England, due to some mysterious murders that seems to be caused by a family curse.
The detective and his dear doctor have a surprisingly modest presence in this first film, something that would be changed when the studio heads noticed the popularity of the characters.
In the film a referral to Holmes' cocaine habit is made. The last line "Oh, Watson, the needle!" was heavily discussed in newspaper at the release of the film.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Director: Alfred L. Werker
USA 1939
85 min

The first sequel to The Hound of the Baskervilles, and the last one 20th Century Fox produced before letting Universal Studios take over the production of yet ten more sequels. In this film Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson chases their archenemy Prof. Moriarty (George Zucco) who is planning to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London. The beauty of the film - Ida Lupino.

Sherlock Holmes: You've a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I'd like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London Medical Society.

Scene: Sherlock Holmes in disguise sings "Beside the Seaside".


Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
Director: John Rawlins
USA 1942
65 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

Three years later, Universal has taken over the production of the Sherlock Holmes films. The plot is now set in present time (1940's), and the films have the wonderful length of just a little more than an hour.
It is the beginning of the Second World War, and mysterious broadcasts are heard over the radio. They appear to be from Nazi Germany and informs of terror attacks in England, just before they take place. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are quickly put on the case.

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1943
80 min (USA 68 min)

Link to the film on YouTube: link

Beginning in Switzerland, Sherlock Holmes rescues the inventor of a bomb sight and manages to get him to England before the Gestapo gets their hands on him. Back in England, the inventor explains that he is willing to make the bomb accessible to the Allies. Soon, however, he vanishes, leaving a mysterious note behind him for Sherlock to de-code. Suspicion arises that his old enemy Prof. Moriarty (Lionel Atwill) might have something to do with the whole thing.
The first Sherlock Holmes film for director Roy William Neill, who would direct the rest of the films in the series.

Dr. Franz Tobel: You would take the Nazis' own car?
Sherlock Holmes: One must adapt oneself to the tools at hand.

Sherlock Holmes in Washington
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1943
71 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

A British secret agent is kidnapped, keeping an important document with him, on his way to Washington. The British government puts Sherlock Holmes on the case to recover it.

Sherlock Holmes: I shall write a monograph someday on the noxious habit of accumulating useless trivia.

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1943
68 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

Murders are committed at a convalescent home where Dr. Watson has volunteered his services. He asks Sherlock Holmes for help, who starts interrogating the people their, including the owner of the place and the patients.
Dennis Hoey appears as Inspector Lestrade in his second Holmes film, his first being Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.

Dr. John H. Watson: We thought you were taking an awful risk.
Sherlock Holmes: Well, we had to have a confession. And these egomaniacs are always so much more chatty when they feel they have the upper hand.

The Spider Woman
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1944
63 min

A mass of suicides are committed among known gamblers, and Sherlock Holmes gets the commission of clearing up the mystery. His suspicions soon falls on the beautiful but lethal Andrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard). With Holmes are the both absent minded Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade.
Rathbone and Sondergaard hade made a film together four years earlier, in 1940 - The Mark of Zorro.

Scene: The thrilling shooting range scene.

The Scarlet Claw
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1944
74 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

A tribute to Canada in the time of the Second World War.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigates some mysterious deaths in the Canadian village of La Mort Rouge. An old legend tells the story of a phantom that many years ago killed three villagers, and many inhabitants now fear that the phantom is back again.

Sherlock Holmes: Relations of friendly intimacy with the United States on the one hand and their unswerving fidelity to the British commonwealth and the motherland on the other. Canada, the link which joins together these great branches of the human family.
Dr. John H. Watson: Did Churchill say that?
Sherlock Holmes: Yes, Watson, Churchill.

The Pearl of Death
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1944
69 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

A pearl witn an ominous reputation is stolen from a museum, and Sherlock Holmes must find the pearl and investigate its link to a series of brutal murders.

Sherlock Holmes: Watson, look sharp, will you? Go to that door to the alley, and do exactly as I tell you.
Dr. John H. Watson: Huh?
Sherlock Holmes: No, not "huh". Just do it.

The House of Fear
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1945
69 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

A series of murders have taken place at a castle, where every victim has had its upcoming death foretold by the delivery of orange pips.
I found a lovely comment on this film on IMDb, and I have to share it. The headline says "Stop Trying":

Do you know how many times I've watched The House of Fear? Neither do I. I'd rather not know actually, it could confirm things I don't want confirming. It's a film that serious Holmes fans love to sniff at, but it's so creaky, so dark and so funny that if you don't like it, you must be trying. Rathbone wanders around brooding and Bruce is so wonderful that you want to drag him out of his dressing room whenever he's absent from a scene. Dennis Hoey manages to be both daft as a brush and too clever to be cancelled out by Bruce, while Paul Cavanagh has the sort of not-of-this-world charisma that most actors can only dream of throwing across the screen. Aubrey Mather is both strange and warm and Roy William Neill lets the film crack and pop like an old house settling. A guilty pleasure? No, just a pleasure.

Dr. John H. Watson: I'm sorry I'm late. I didn't sleep very well.
Sherlock Holmes: Didn't sleep very well? You snored like a pig!

The Woman in Green
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1945
68 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigates some bizarre and apparently unconnected murders. The death of a suspect makes the mystery tighter. Clues lead to a woman, mysterious hypnotist. Prof. Moriarty is believed to be involved, even though he is reported to have been hanged in Montevideo.

Professor Moriarty: We've had many encounters in the past. You hope to place me on the gallows. I tell you I will never stand upon the gallows. But, if you are instrumental in any way in bringing about my destruction, you will not be alive to enjoy your satisfaction.
Sherlock Holmes: Then we shall walk together through the gates of Eternity hand in hand.
Professor Moriarty: What a charming picture that would make.
Sherlock Holmes: Yes, wouldn't it. I really think it might be worth it.

Pursuit to Algiers
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1945
65 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

An heir to a European throne has to be escorted safely to his homeland after his father's assassination, and Sherlock Holmes is the man to do it.
This film is not even loosely based on anything written by Conan Doyle, but is connected to his original stories in another way. In one of Conan Doyle's works, Holmes and Watson mention an episode - "the affair of the steamship "Friesland" that so nearly cost us both our lives". In Pursuit to Algiers the characters are on a steamship called "Friesland", and the trip nearly cost them their lives!

Dr. John H. Watson: I don't understand, Holmes! She seems such a nice girl! She sings charmingly!
Sherlock Holmes: My dear fellow, musical talent is hardly evidence of innocence. Moriarity was a virtuoso on the bassoon.

Terror by Night
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1946
60 min

Link to the film on YouTube: link

The Star of Rodesia diamond is stolen aboard an express train from London to Edinbourgh, and the son of its owner murdered. Luckliy, detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner in crime Dr. Watson is aboard the train too, and begin solving the mystery by taking a closer look on their fellow passengers.

Sherlock Holmes: The young lady is taking her mother to Scotland for burial.
Inspector Lestrade: In a coffin?
Sherlock Holmes: That is the customary method, I believe.

Dressed to Kill
Director: Roy William Neill
USA 1946
76 min

Link to this film on YouTube: link

The fourteenth and last film in the Sherlock Holmes series, also called Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Code (UK).
An old school friend of Dr. Watson, and consumer of a set of cheap musical boxes, is murdered. Sherlock Holmes suspects that the death has something to do with his latest addition to his music collection. But would kill someone over a piece of music, and why?

Colonel Cavanaugh: [remarking on the poison gas] That little attachment, my dear Mr. Holmes, contains the deadly fluid known as monosulfite. The Germans use it with gratifying results in removing their undesirables.
Watson: Holmes! You all right?
Holmes: Perfectly! Thank you, old fellow, but I think this gentleman on the floor requires some medical attention. We must see he looks his best, you know, when he's hanged.

That would be all! Keep an eye open for my next poll, where you can vote which one of these films is your favourite!

Okay, I can't leave you there. I'll give you this piece of candy before it's bed time:
As is known, Basil Rathbone tired of the Sherlock Holmes character after all these movies, hating to be typecast. As my frequent visitor and commentator Samuel Wilson (with the Ally Christopher) kindly enlightened me, Basil made a cameo in Olsen and Johnson's Crazy House (1943), making fun of his Holmes character. See that scene here:

Olsen and Johnson cause panic when arriving at the Universal Studios. Dr. Watson runs to tell Holmes about what's going on, but he already knows.
- I am Sherlock Holmes. I know everything.


Christopher said...

Not a bad Sherlock Holmes in the lot..Altho my favorites are the War time series that followed the first 2 period films,with Spider Woman and Pearl of Death being the ones I like the best..I never thought the series got stale with the last 2 Terror by Night and Dressed to Kill.They're the ones that get re-run on regular TV the most..Patricia Morison is one of my fave forgotten 40's movie villainess'
In all fairness,Samuel Wilson,in an earlier Post here made mention of Crazy House first..I only agreed in a follow up post..and added Hellzapoppin'...which is my baby! ;o) :o))

Alexis said...

Wow-- That was an amazing blog. I wanted to tell you that I have awarded you the splash. check it out here-- http://ingridbergmanfilms.blogspot.com/2009/04/splash-award.html

Thanks for all of your support and you're amazing work! :)

Lolita said...

Many opinions on the Sherlock Holmes films, interesting! I am among those who actually prefer Rathbone as the 19th century Holmes, my favourite being The Adventures of...
I'll correct that mistake at ones!

Wow, thanks a lot!

Keith said...

Hey Lolita. Great post. Wow! I never realized there were quite so many of these films. I've seen a few of them, but not nearly all of them. I've loved them though. I would love to watch all of these movies.

Lolita said...

I'm glad you liked the post! Many of the films are available on YouTube, if you don't mind watching films on the computer and to have a cigarette break every ten minutes or so! Those of the films I write about that you can see on YouTube I've linked to in the posts :)