Monday, March 13, 2017

Sherlock Holmes And The Voice Of Terror (1942)

Starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, Reginald Denny, Thomas Gomez
Directed by John Rawlins
(actor & director credits courtesy

Holmes and Watson are engaged by the British defense council to discover the identity of "The Voice Of Terror," a Nazi leader coordinating acts of sabotage within England.

After two excellent films for 20th Century Fox, Rathbone and Bruce reprise their characters in the first of a long series of films for Universal, but the time period is updated to the present day, and Holmes gives up his familiar deerstalker for a more contemporary tweed fedora.  Viewers expecting a classic mystery may be disappointed, as the content here is wartime propaganda with a number of jingoistic speeches, and although Holmes' observant eye is still worked into the screenplay, for me, it's probably the least satisfying entry in the series.  That being said, there's still a great deal to enjoy here, including Woody Bredell's shadowy photography and Frank Skinner's excellent score, which would be re-used again and again very effectively in Universal's followups.  Also, the interplay between Rathbone and Bruce remains excellent, they're joined by an excellent supporting cast, and the distinguished narration that would close many of the Universal Holmes' films, so stirringly intoned by Rathbone, begins here.

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