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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

PURSUIT TO ALGIERS


PURSUIT TO ALGIERS (1945). Director: Roy William Neill.

"My dear Watson, musical talent is no proof of innocence. The late Professor Moriarty was a virtuoso on the bassoon."

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), along with Watson (Nigel Bruce), is importuned to help scurry Prince Nikolas (Leslie Vincent) out of England before he can be assassinated after his father the king dies in an "accident." With the prince in tow, Holmes and Watson travel by boat, wondering which of the seemingly innocent -- and not so innocent -- passengers may be assassins. Of course, the minute Martin Kosleck shows up you know he's not on the side of the angels, but the film still holds quite a few surprises. At a dinner party Watson makes reference to Holmes' adventure with "The Giant Rat of Sumatra," which Doyle referred to in his stories but which was never revealed in one of his original tales. Marjorie Riordan plays Sheila Woodbury, whom the prince admires and who has a very lovely voice; she sings a couple of charming numbers. The huge mute Gubek is played by an actor billed as "Wee Willie Davis" and Morton Lowry, who played Stapleton in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939), is the helpful ship's steward. Very suspenseful, entertaining, and well-acted to boot. Rathbone is as marvelous as ever. Although Riordan was attractive and competent she had few credits, preferring other pursuits to acting. Despite his good looks, Leslie Vincent was uncredited in most of his film appearances. Twenty-four years after his last film credit he appeared on TV's Hawaii Five-O in 1972.

Verdict: Great fun! ***.

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