DRESSED TO KILL

(aka "Prelude to Murder")
(1946)
With Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morrison, Edmund Breon, Frederick Worlock, Mary Gordon
Directed by Roy William Neill
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

"It says here Moriarty is responsible for global warming"    The last of the Rathbone - Bruce Sherlock Holmes films features an intriguing story and some fine nods to the original stories but suffers from a understandable lack of enthusiasm.  Had this story been filmed two or three years earlier, it may well have been one of the best entries of the series, but once again, as in a several of the later films, the lack of passion and creativity behind and sometimes in front of the camera is noticeable.

     Yet the story itself is quite satisfying and carries the day.  Two out of three identical music boxes have been stolen, and Holmes comes into possession of the third one.  He uses his musical mastery, as well as some random observations by Doctor Watson, to unravel a plot that could wreck the British economy.

     Fans of the stories will be pleased to see Dr. Watson reading The Strand Magazine, glowing over his own tale "A Scandal in Bohemia" at the beginning of the film, a moment that pays off much later when one of the criminals uses a tactic mentioned in that story to distract Watson himself and thus make off with the third music box.  Watson also mentions another story, "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist", although all these efforts to paint Watson as a competent writer are hampered by equal efforts to paint him as an incompetent buffoon who says things like "You're making a mountain out of a moleskin."  Would not an author of such classic short stories know that it is "molehill?".  Watson must have had a very patient editor at The Strand.

     DRESSED TO KILL is the final Holmes film starring this pair, and although you may wish it were better, that it is as good as it is says something about the entire series.  3 - JB

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