The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

Article #1304 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-9-2004
Posting Date: 3-8-2005
Directed by Alfred L. Werker
Featuring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino

Professor Moriarty decides to embarass Holmes by diverting his attention away from a brilliant crime he’s planning to commit.

This was the last of the two period Sherlock Holmes movies featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce for Fox; the two actors would then be picked up by Universal for a series of modern-day stories. Some people say it’s the best of the series, and quite frankly I agree; though all of the Rathbone Holmes films are fun, this one is especially fine. I knew this one was special the moment Moriarty mentions that he’s going to use Holmes’ own restlessness as a tool against him, and from that point onward you’re caught up in both parts of the plan; can Holmes solve the intriguing murder plot he is presented with and still see through it to the daring robbery attempt that it is meant to cover up? Both Rathbone and Bruce are excellent, with Bruce slightly less of a buffoon than usual. However, George Zucco’s performance as Moriarty is one of the high points of his career. Zucco is always fun to watch, but I’ve never seen him quite as nuanced as he is here; I love the scenes where he berates a servant for having failed to water his plant and the scene where he banters with Holmes. The horror elements are fairly slight, but an exciting chase that ends in a graveyard adds an ample amount of horror atmosphere to the proceedings.


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