|Greta Gynt and George Curzon|
SEXTON BLAKE AND THE HOODED TERROR (aka The Hooded Terror/1938). Director: George King.
"Bombs going off. Men falling dead. What kind of place is this? A gentleman's house or a chamber of horrors?' -- Mrs. Bardell
While almost completely unknown in the United States, private eye Sexton Blake, who began life as a Sherlock Holmes clone (who even had an office on Baker Street and a Mrs. Hudson-type housekeeper) before metamorphosing into different types of action heroes over the decades, was once very big stuff in England. In this film our hero (George Curzon) is up against a secret group known as the Black Quorum, which is led by a man known as the Snake. The members of the Quorum wear masks at their meetings, but take them off to look at closed-circuit television, making one wonder why they bother with the masks in the first place. Greta Gynt plays a special agent named Julie, whom Blake is always condescending to because she's a woman, but who saves his bacon on at least one occasion. [Brave Julie is the most "modern" thing about the movie.] Blake has an assistant named Tinker (Tony Sympson) and a housekeeper named Mrs. Bardell (Marie Wright). Tod Slaughter plays a deceptively jovial figure named Michael Larron. The most interesting scene features a death chamber full of slithering snakes. This isn't terrible, just not very memorable. Curzon, Gynt and the others are fine, with Gynt especially vivacious, adept and notable.
Verdict: Stick with Sherlock Holmes. **.