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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon (1942)

Starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill, Kaaren Verne, William Post Jr.
Directed by Roy William Neill
(actor & director credits courtesy

Holmes tries to protect the brilliant inventor of an effective bomb sight from the Nazis, but they have enlisted the aid of the detective's greatest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

A fine script, with many wonderful interchanges between Rathbone and Atwill, and the debut of Roy William Neill as producer/director on the series elevate this installment, making it my favorite of the wartime Universal Holmes films.  Atwill, although minus his traditional mustache, is a fine foil for Rathbone, and has a sinister aura and distinguished voice that make him a great fit for the character of the legendary Moriarty.  His reasoned discussion with Rathbone of how they would eliminate each other is one of the highlights of the film.  Screenwriters Edward T. Lowe, W. Scott Darling, and Edmund L. Hartmann, besides delivering a worthy tale, are able to absorb elements from Conan Doyle's original story, The Adventure Of The Dancing Men, into their screenplay, giving Holmes and Moriarty a worthwhile puzzle to spar intellectually over, and also introduce Inspector Lestrade.  Actor Dennis Hoey, who would make several appearances as Lestrade over the course of the series, begins his memorable characterization, probably the most endearing and likable version of the Scotland Yard detective.

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