This is the first of the 14 black&white Holmes movies that starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. The lean Holmes and blustering Watson are alerted to the legend of a hound that haunts the Baskerville family. Sir Henry Baskerville is in danger so Holmes and Watson swap the foggy streets of London for the equally foggy ominous moors.
There they will encounter a convict, cadaverous servants, a milquetoast baddie, an annoying romance and a great big dog. This was changed from the book but was okay even if the final line was ridiculous. I cannot believe Nigel Bruce was actually three years younger than Basil Rathbone.
“I’ve an idea Watson that young Sir Henry isn’t destined for a very long existence in this world.”
“Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.”
“Bogs make queer noises.”
“Look, he’s limping on the other foot now.”
“What blasted impertinence.”
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
The 2nd Rathbone&Bruce film centres on Professor Moriarty’s attempt to beat and ruin Holmes. As the film opens Moriarty is acquitted of a crime and he manipulates Holmes into solving the mystery of a menaced mining heiress so Holmes won’t notice Moriarty stealing the crown jewels.
Holmes is rude to the ever loyal Watson, the mining heiress has an emotionally abusive fiancée but nobody cares in this rigidly conforminist man pleasing era. Holmes sings and has righteousness. Watson’s idiocy is tiresome shtick and this was a dire squalid death spiral of a movie.
“We have no choice but to find the prisoner not guilty. So do we all find. And may God forgive us.”
“You have a magnificent brain Moriarty, I admire it. I admire it so much I’d like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London medical society.”
“Oh poor Higgins, they found nothing but his boots.”
“I interfere whenever and wherever I like.”
“Supposing you explain how you came to be bending over the corpse with this in your hands?”
Sherlock Holmes and The Voice of Terror (1942)
This third Rathbone&Bruce movie was made by a new studio and was updated to the then present day. So Holmes and Watson are now fighting Nazis in WW2 without a word of explanation to the time jump or lack of aging.
Nazi radio propaganda boasts about acts of sabotage, Holmes and Watson have to save the day. Holmes has a bizarre new hairdo and he enlists East End trash to help foil the Nazis. Various Nazi spies get beaten up in this really loose adaptation of ‘His Last Bow’. There is a disposable woman and WW2 propaganda. This was not good, like Haim.
“He won’t lurk no more.”
“The Germans plan well in advance.”
Sherlock Holmes & The Secret Weapon (1943)
Based on ‘The Dancing Men’ this sees Holmes and Watson get involved in the war effort, again. Watson is stupid, Holmes has Liberace hair and does stuff to avoid profound existential boredom. Moriarty (played by a different actor and he also hasn’t aged since Victorian times) returns to pick a fight that he cannot possibly win. This was a ghastly, disgusting, awful, movie.
Lestrade finally shows up and he‘s stupid, there is fuss over a new bomb sight and Moriarty comes up with an elaborate death trap for Holmes. Despite the fact he has a gun and could just shoot Holmes there and then. When that fails, he tries another death trap only to plunge into a diarrhoea stew in the sewers, off screen sadly. After Moriarty sided with the Nazis in this movie, what’ll he do when he makes another return? Pick a fight with a police horse? This was a train wreck.
“The needle to the last, eh Holmes?”