SHERLOCK HOLMES AND
THE SECRET WEAPON

(1942)
With Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill
Directed by Roy William Neill
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

    Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson try to prevent longtime foe Professor Moriarty from finding and selling some newfangled whatchamacallit to the Germans.  Based very loosely on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON is one of the Universal Sherlock Holmes films in which the World's Greatest Consulting Detective and the good Dr. Watson pitch in to help Britain defeat the Nazis, after which Holmes pauses to quote Winston Churchill just before the fadeout.  Filmed at a time when Universal was coming into its own as a studio that produced fun, audience-friendly franchises that, because of their lack of ambition beyond pleasing a crowd, are still with us, entertainment value fully intact, decades later.

     Aside from the usual excellent work by Rathbone and Bruce, the film features Lionel Atwill as a particularly dastardly Professor Moriarty.  His every step and facial expression and facial expression scream "I do so enjoy being eee-ville!".  Worth the price of admission just for the James Bondish scene in which a captured Holmes and a gloating Moriarty pleasantly pass the time discussing the ways they always dreamed of killing each other, a scene that alludes to the literary Homes' cocaine addiction:  "The needle to the end, eh, Holmes?" 3  - JB

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