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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. Roy William Neill (Director) Universal (1943)


An enjoyable adventure that picks up very considerably in the second half. Sherlock Holmes is involved in a plan to smuggle a scientist out of Switzerland and away from the the grasp of the Gestapo. The scientist, Dr. Tobel. has developed a bomb sight that is of great accuracy and therefore value to the Germans and the British. Dr Tobel makes plans to control the manufacture of the bomb sight and then is kidnapped. Sherlock Holmes has to rescue him from the grip of Professor James Moriarty, the action is great fun, the clues are clever and the resolution very satisfying.
The opening sections of the film are weighed down by the propaganda aspects to the story, they are too much to the foreground. After Dt Tobel(William Post Jr.) is kidnapped and Professor James Moriarty(Lionel Atwill) enters the story the film picks up greatly. The personal battle between Sherlock Holmes(Basil Rathbone) and Moriarty is made clear and this give the film a considerable tension and dramatic edge.
The use of the Dancing Men code is a fun aspect to the story and the action sequences are wonderfully melodramatic. Basil Rathbone is a excellent, he has the vigour and barely contained annoyance at the limitations of others captured nicely. Lionell Atwill is superb, his mixture of enjoyment of the challenge represented by Holmes and the desire to be rid of him make their scenes together crackle. The struggle between them is one where victory is proof of intellectual superiority. A very enjoyable film.

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