The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
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as Sherlock Holmes
as Prof. Moriarty
as Dr. Watson
as Ann Brandon
as Jerrold Hunter
as Sir Ronald Ramsgate
as Inspector Bristol
as Mrs. Jameson
as Lloyd Brandon
as Mrs. Hudson
as Lady Conyngham
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Another excellent outing for Rathbone and Bruce as Holmes and Watson. This time Holmes faces his most well known nemesis Moriarty. The film begins with Moriarty being found innocent of murder, with Holmes bursting into the courtroom just a few seconds too late. After the courtroom scene we see Holmes and Moriarty talking together like real competitors, without the hate you'd find between most enemies. They certainly have admiration for each other, and this admiration makes the film so enjoyable. Despite the fact that people's lives and reputations are at risk, you can easily tell they enjoy competing with each other. Moriarty then sends Holmes on a number of wild goose chases to conceal his real crime. I did like seeing Moriarty by himself and his love for plants. His clearly showed him as having a limited connection with humans. A simple act of not watering his plants also showed his talents are similar to Holmes'. Unfortunately, telling the audience that the mysteries are wild goose chases means we are waiting for Holmes to catch up with us. Like the previous effort the setting becomes a character in itself. The occupied streets of London are just as cold, dark, and sinister as the moors. This kind of makes the murders even more devilish. Watson is used more for comedic relief, which is annoying at times, as he ends up getting blamed for things that go wrong. Rathbone is at the centre stage here and he holds it well. He is always calm, but adds a sense of urgency when needed to heighten our excitement. His disguise was once again brilliant, and I didn't guess it this time. A great stylish offering.
One of the earliest Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone in the lead is one of the better entries in the series. Rathbone and Bruce make a wonderful team but what helps separate this from the others is the casting of a very young Ida Lupino in the menaced maiden role, usually the endangered lady was a pretty but utilitarian actress of minor note. Ida was on her way up at this point and within the year would break through to the majors in "They Drive By Night" and her star quality shines through here making her plight and the mystery more involving. The film itself has good production values and moves at a brisk pace.
"Elementary, my dear Watson."
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