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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

Things open in a courtroom where the nefarious Professor Moriarty is on trial for murder, or at least he was. He has just been declared innocent, despite everyone knowing he was guilty. Sherlock Holmes shows up with the evidence that would have convicted him just as the case ends and is too late. The Professor declares to Holmes after the trial that he will commit the crime of the century under his nose proving once and for all that he is the greatest mind in all of England.

Not long after Holmes is visited by a young woman named Ann who is concerned for the well being of her brother Lloyd. He has received a strange letter in the mail one just like their father got before he was murdered. Despite being asked to keep an eye out on the transfer of the latest crown jewel, The Star of Delhi, Holmes spends his time helping her. When Lloyd is murdered this seems like a good choice. But is it? How does Ann’s problems tie in with Moriarty’s crime of the century? These questions are all answered in a great finale/chase at the Tower of London.

This is a very good movie so I’m trying to keep my synopsis as vague as possible to not spoil anything. There is a real mystery here that engages the audience and keeps them guessing from start to finish. There is a lot going on as Moriarty tosses clues, seemingly at random, at Holmes trying to confuse him and obfuscate his crimes. That said if you pay close attention the vital bits needed to sort things out are provided, which as I’ve said before is vital for a mystery story to work. I need to have a chance to figure it out for myself if you want me to enjoy what I’m watching. Here they do that very thing, and I was hooked.

The cast is great with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce returning as Holmes and Watson. This second entry is also the first time we get to see some of the comedic elements to Bruce’s portrayal as the good doctor. It isn’t slapstick, which wouldn’t have played with well with a story like this but is instead some good natured wordplay. It brings a levity that was a hallmark to later entries into the franchise. New to the cast are the legendary Ida Lupino as Ann and the great George Zucco as Moriarty. It shocks me that more genre fans don’t know Zucco by name, but if you have watched any classic horror from the thirties and forties you will recognize his face.

I believe that this is the last of the movies to take place in the late eighteen hundreds as they movie the action to “current” day of the forties as the franchise continued into the war years. I’ll speak more on that when we get to them. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a good time and well worth checking out. You can find this online streaming for free so there is no reason not to give it a chance. I highly recommend it.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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