Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH (1943). Director: Roy William Neill.

Dr. Watson: "Ghosts don't stab people in the neck, do they?"
Sherlock Holmes: "Not well-bred ghosts."

In this very loose adaptation of Doyle's story "The Musgrave Ritual," Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) investigate murders at Musgrave Manor, which has been opened for convalescent war patients and staff. There are hidden treasures, secret passages, and a floor that resembles a chessboard. Although this is another of Universal's "modern-dress" Holmes films, it retains the old-style atmosphere that is so crucial to the success of these mysteries. Hillary Brooke plays the sister of the murdered men and she isn't too terrible. Her boyfriend is played by Milburn Stone, who also appeared in The Great Alaskan Mystery, Roadblock, and Captive Wild Woman. Dennis Hoey is great as Inspector Lestrade, a role he repeated in most of these films, and which served chiefly as comedy relief. Halliwell Hobbes and Minna Phillips make an impression as the butler, Brunton, and his wife.

Verdict: Crackling good fun! ***.

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