SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH

(1943)
With Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Arthur Margetson, Hillary Brooke
Directed by Roy William Neill
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

    Take Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Musgrave Ritual", add a lot of hokum and a creepy butler and maid, leave room for Dennis Hoey as the clueless Inspector Lestrade, and throw in more red herrings than you'd find at a communist fish market.  Result? Yet another good entry in the Universal Sherlock Holmes series. As the chief doctor in charge of a home for convalescing soldiers, Nigel Bruce's Dr. Watson is more prominent than usual and there is sometimes a feeling of true friendship between the detective and the doctor, something that doesn't always come off in this series, especially with past films featuring Holmes's snide asides belittling the doctor's mental capacities. This time the insults are aimed squarely at the bumbling Lestrade, with Watson himself getting in a few good digs at Scotland Yard's finest. There are no Nazis or spies in this one, it's just a fun, needlessly complex mystery with a few good twists and a surprisingly high body count.  3 - JB

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