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Includes:The Pearl of Death (1944) The House of Fear (1945) The Pearl of Death This above-average entry in Universal's Sherlock Holmes series is loosely based on the Conan Doyle story The Six Napoleons. On this occasion, Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Watson (Nigel Bruce) are assigned to guard the priceless Borgia Pearl, a "cursed" gem that has inspired scores of murders over the years. Their principal antagonist is master criminal Giles Conover (Miles Mander), who, though he is constantly thwarted in his efforts to pilfer the pearl, manages to discredit Holmes in the eyes of the public. Conover's chief assistant is the beautiful Naomi Drake (Evelyn Ankers), who adopts several clever disguises in the course of the action. Complicating matters is a series of seemingly unrelated murders, in which the victims are found with their backs broken, lying amidst piles of shattered China. Holmes deduces the connection between the murders and the Borgia Pearl, and in so doing nearly becomes the latest victim of The Creeper (Rondo Hatton), a horribly disfigured homicidal maniac. In addition to providing Basil Rathbone and Evelyn Keyes endless opportunities for bravura disguise scenes, The Pearl of Death launched the short starring career of the tragic Rondo Hatton, a real-life victim of the disfiguring disease known as acromegaly. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide The House of Fear This excellent Sherlock Holmes adventure is based on Conan Doyle's The Five Orange Pips. Most of the action takes place in a remote Scottish mansion, home of "The Good Companions," a group of elderly eccentrics. After taking out insurance policies on one another, the club members begin dropping like flies, each death preceded by a mailed envelope containing an orange pip. Enter Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce), who hope to not only solve the killings but also find out why the corpses mysteriously disappear after each death. For once, the usually ineffectual Watson takes an active part in the deductive process, uncovering the vital evidence that helps Holmes emerge triumphant once more. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Includes:The Speckled Band (1931) The Sign of Four (1932) A Study in Scarlet (1933) The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935) Murder at the Baskervilles (1937) Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942), MPAA Rating: NR The Woman in Green (1945), MPAA Rating: NR Dressed to Kill (1946), MPAA Rating: NR Terror by Night (1946), MPAA Rating: NR The Speckled Band Sherlock Holmes and Watson solve the murder of a young woman in this mystery that features Raymond Massey in the title role. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide The Sign of Four In this Sherlock Holmes mystery, the great detective and Dr. Watson help a young woman who has received a giant pearl from a mysterious man. The woman, to whom Watson is very attracted, is also searching for her father who has mysteriously disappeared. Holmes and the Dr. first go to the home of a flamboyant fellow in South London. This man too is being harassed by the mysterious stranger. This leads the sleuths to a one-legged criminal and his assistant, a dwarf. The story climaxes with a thrilling motor boat chase down the Thames. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide A Study in Scarlet Sherlock Holmes and Watson solve a puzzling case in which a bloody foreign word is found beside a murder victim. The plot has little to do with author Doyle's original story of the same name. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes The fourth of Arthur Wonter's quintet of Sherlock Holmes films, Triumph of Sherlock Holmes was a fairly faithful adaptation of Conan Doyle's The Valley of Fear. This time, Holmes (Wontner) and Dr. Watson (Ian Fleming -- not the James Bond author!) investigate a mysterious murder at Birlstone Castle. The killings seem to be tied in with a secret American society of coal-miners called the Scowlers. The architect of all this skullduggery is that "Napoleon of Crime," Professor Moriarty (the magnificent Lyn Harding), who has conspired with an American gangster (Ben Welden) to assassinate the Pinkerton agent responsible for breaking the back of the Scowlers. There's very little in the way of mystery in Triumph of Sherlock Holmes, but it scores on its full quotient of thrills and chills. Originally 84 minutes, the film was cut to 75 for its American release. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Murder at the Baskervilles Sherlock Holmes and Watson travel to the home of their old friend Baskerville who wants Holmes to figure out who stole his prized race horse Silver Blaze and murdered the groom. The primary suspect is the young rider who loves the daughter of Baskerville, but he is innocent. Holmes finds the horse on a neighboring farm and deduces that his old enemy Moriarity is behind the mayhem. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon The second of Universal's "modernized" Sherlock Holmes films pits the Great Detective (Basil Rathbone, of course) against that "Napoleon of Crime," Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill). Surpassing his previous skullduggery, Moriarty has now aligned himself with the Nazis and has dedicated himself to stealing a top-secret bomb sight developed by expatriate European scientist Dr. Franz Tobel (William Post Jr.). Before being kidnapped by Moriarty's minions, Tobel was enterprising enough to disassemble his invention and distribute its components among several other patriotic scientists. Racing against the clock, Holmes and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) try to stem the murders of Tobel's colleagues and prevent Moriarty from getting his mitts on the precious secret weapon. The now-famous climax finds Holmes playing for time by allowing Moriarty to drain all the blood from his body, drop by drop ("The needle to the last, eh Holmes?" gloats the villain). Dennis Hoey makes his first appearance as the dull-witted, conclusion-jumping Inspector Lestrade. Constructed more like a serial than a feature film, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (based loosely on Conan Doyle's The Dancing Men) is one of the fastest-moving entries in the series; it is also one of the most readily accessible, having lapsed into public domain in 1969. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide The Woman in Green Based on Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Empty House, this "Sherlock Holmes" entry finds Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) trying to solve the case of the "Finger Murders". Several beautiful women have been found slain, all with their right forefingers severed from their hands. The police are prepared to write off the killings as the work of a madman, but Holmes deduces that there's a sane motive behind it all. Sure enough, the trail of evidence leads to Holmes' perennial nemesis Professor Moriarity (Henry Daniell), who is in league with lissome female criminal Lydia (Hillary Brooke). Though it isn't sporting to reveal Moriarity's nefarious scheme here, it can be noted that The Woman in Green comes to a nailbiting conclusion as a hypnotized Holmes wanders precariously along the ledge of a penthouse! ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Dressed to Kill Based on the prolific Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries, Sherlock Holmes is on the job again. This time the inmate of a British prison has incorporated stolen Bank of England engraving plates into a series of music boxes he has made and multiple criminals are out to find them. Holmes must be first. It's a weak, thin plot for the final of the Holmes/Watson series but it is still a joy to see Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce working off one another. ~ Tana Hobart, All Movie Guide Terror by Night The penultimate entry in Universal's Sherlock Holmes series, Terror by Night takes place almost exclusively on a speeding train, en route from London to Edinburgh. Holmes (Basil Rathbone) is on board to protect a valuable diamond from the clutches of master criminal Colonel Sebastian Moran. The trouble is, Moran is a master of disguise, and could be just about any one of the other passengers. Murder and mayhem plague the train excursion before Holmes can successfully complete his mention. Poor old Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) is a bit denser than usual here, though his ingenuousness is cleverly woven into the script. Alan Mowbray, who played Inspector Lestrade in the 1932 Clive Brook adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, is seen in a pivotal supporting role. One of three Holmes entries currently in the public domain, Terror by Night is also available in a computer-colorized version (but stick with the original black-and-white). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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