Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)

Article 1872 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-30-2006
Posting Date: 9-27-2006
Directed by Roy William Neill
Featuring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill

Sherlock Holmes helps an inventor with a new bomb-sight invention escape to England, but there must contend with the fact that Dr. Moriarty has designs on the inventor and his invention as well.

This is another one of the “Bad-Haircut” Holmes movies; those first few movies after Universal took over the series from Twentieth-Century Fox and moved Holmes into a modern wartime setting; they are marked by heavy use of propaganda and Holmes’ bad haircut. This one is an improvement over the previous one in the series; they eased up on the propaganda quite a bit, the invention gives it a higher level of fantastic content, and Holmes’ haircut is often obscured by the fact that he spends a good deal of the movie in any variety of disguises. It also helps that Lionel Atwill is on hand as Moriarty; he does well, though I prefer either Zucco or Daniell in the role myself. The movie borrows the cipher from the “Adventure of the Dancing Men” story from the Holmes canon, but it does add a few interesting twists to the matter. Watson is even afforded a greater amount of dignity here as well; outside of falling asleep at one point, he proves to be resourceful and helpful to Holmes throughout. Not a bad entry in the series, by any means.


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