Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)

The second chronologically but for some reason third in viewing order of Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a very enjoyable romp with Sherlock going head to head with arch-rival Professor Moriarty (played by George Zucco). The movie starts with Moriarty being acquitted of a crime, despite the misgivings of the judge, jury and indeed everyone else; Sherlock Holmes runs into court with new evidence that would destroy Moriarty's alibi, but the judgement has already been given and Moriarty cannot be tried on the same charges again.

Frustrated, Holmes shares a cab with Moriarty back to Baker Street, in which the two compare opinions on each other, in which Rathbone utters these classic lines:

"You've a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I'd like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London Medical Society."

In reply, Zucco's Moriarty sets the scene for this film:

"Holmes, you only now barely missed sending me to the gallows. You're the only man in England clever enough to defeat me. I'm going to break you. I'm going to bring off right under your nose the most incredible crime of the century, and you'll never suspect it until it's too late. It'll be the end of you Sherlock Holmes. Then I can retire in peace. I'd like to retire; crime no longer amuses me. I'd like to devote my remaining years to abstract science. "

Moriarty sets out to concoct this fabulous crime under Holmes' nose, and to do so he constructs a sequence of events which utilises the most dangerous knowledge he possesses - an understanding of how Sherlock Holmes' brain works.

Once again I found the doddering nature of Watson to be rather annoying, but that aside it's a cracking addition to the archives of Sherlock Holmes movies; fun, engaging, and keeps you guessing until the end. I'll forgive the slightly melodramatic exit of Moriarty for the final scene, in which Holmes is continuing his experiment of trying to get flies to react to his strumming on the violin. Watson swats the fly with his newspaper and says:

"Elementary, My Dear Holmes, Elementary"

Next up is another wartime Sherlock Holmes movies, so I'm not really expecting that to be as good... my overall opinion of Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection generally positive, but of course I've only watched three of the twelve films so far. I'm hoping that most will be as good as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles - if that's the case, it will be a great collection.

See also: Sherlock Holmes - The Definitive Collection review

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

1 comment:

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