Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)

Another wartime Sherlock Holmes movie but a good deal better than the previous year's The Voice of Terror, this movie starts out with the esteemed detective extracting a Swiss scientist from under the noses of the Nazis. This scientist, Dr Franz Tobel (William Post Jr.) has invented a new, ultra-accurate bomb sight that will revolutionise the bombing missions of the Brits - or the Germans if they get their hands on it first.

The story is twofold - Holmes' battle of wits with Professor Moriarty (here played by Lionel Atwill) who's working for the Germans, and Dr Tobel's efforts to keep things very much under his own control. Apart from another painfully patriotic closing speech by Holmes and an even more bungling than usual Watson, this is a good installment (fifth in viewing order on Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection). Without Moriarty it would have been a bit flat, but his inclusion and the competition between him and Holmes which is more professional rivalry than anything else, along with the introduction of Dr Tobel who is intellectually on their level, makes for an interesting plot. The final sequence is an entertaining mixture of cat and mouse, deception and double bluffs.

I have to admit though, I'm hoping that this is the last of the wartime movies - somehow they just don't seem in quite the right spirit for films featuring the master of criminal detection.

Best line from Moriarty: "Brilliant man, Sherlock Holmes, too bad he was honest."

Painfully patriotic closing lines -

Watson: "Things are looking up, Holmes. This little Island's still on the map."
Holmes: "Yes. 'This fortress - built by nature for herself; This blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this England.'"

Oh well... at least it's Shakespeare...

See also: Sherlock Holmes - The Definitive Collection review

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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