Dressed to Kill (1946)

Article 1854 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-12-2006
Posting Date: 9-9-2006
Directed by Roy William Neill
Featuring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison

Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder of a music box collector and the theft of a seemingly worthless music box. He soon discovers that the music box is part of a set of three, and that somehow they are tied with the theft of duplicate five-pound plates from the Bank of England.

The Harris Lentz guide that I use as one of the sources for this series includes all of Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes movies despite the fact that not all of them have fantastic elements. I’m not sure whether this one has or not; at one point in the proceedings, an attempt is made to kill Holmes with a device that releases poisoned gas when attached to an automobile, and this device might possibly nudge the movie into the realm of science fiction. If it doesn’t, there’s really nothing of fantastic content in this one.

This is a fairly entertaining one in the series, largely because the puzzle of the music box is a good one, and the movie makes good use of it. Patricia Morison’s villainness makes a good match for Holmes, as she too uses disguises and even pulls the same trick on Watson that Holmes had used on Irene Adler in “A Scandal in Bohemia”, which is mentioned on occasion in this entry. Still, one can tell that Rathbone was getting a little tired of the series by this point; he’s good, but lacking a bit of the spark he had in some of the earlier entries. Still, it provides a dignified farewell for the series.


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