Terror By Night (1946)

Article 1879 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-7-2006
Posting Date: 10-4-2006
Directed by Roy William Neill
Featuring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray

Sherlock Holmes is hired to protect a valuable diamond from theft while it is being transported by train. When an attempt is made at theft and a man is murdered, Holmes begins to suspect the involvement of a nemesis he’s never meant: Colonel Sebastian Moran.

The fantastic content is slight in this entry in the Rathbone Holmes series. We have a bit of science fiction with the special gun, and touches of horror in the fact that part of the plot revolves around a coffin, and by the presence of Skelton Knaggs (who was always rather creepy). Still, this is one of the most entertaining films of the series; I like the interesting array of characters, the fact that almost the whole story takes place on a train, and the fun series of twists and turns in the story. Unfortunately, Watson is at his most buffoonish here, especially when he decides to conduct interviews without the help of Holmes or Lestrade, though he does redeem himself in the final fight. You won’t really be surprised by the revelation of who turns out to be Moran, but it’s still pretty satisfying to watch everything unfold. Dennis Hoey has probably his most prominent performance as Inspector Lestrade here.

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