Sherlock Holmes and the Woman in Green Reviews
In The Woman in Green, London is being terrorized by a series of murders of young women which have only one thing in common: each victim's index finger is neatly cut off. Scotland Yard, as usual, is baffled, and, as usual, turns in desperation to Sherlock Holmes.
Though a rather late entry in a series which many feel lapsed in quality through time, The Woman in Green is actually one of the better movies in the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes series. Though Holmes's usual police liaison Lestrade is here replaced by the slightly less bumbling Gregson, all of the other expected elements are firmly in place. As with most of the series (except for the initial two, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), this film is set in a sort of combination dream period which is half Victorian and half mid-20th century. The flat at 221B Baker Street is particularly atmospheric and Victorian, perhaps in deliberate contrast to the chic modern flat of femme fatale Lydia Marlowe (Hilary Brooke,) where much of the action takes place.
Several things make this film stand out in the series. The puzzle of the murders connected only by a gruesome detail, while so far as I can remember not drawn from any actual Holmes story, has a genuinely Holmesian feel. Bruce's Watson is particularly endearing in his fumbling assistance, and though this is not one of Rathbone's best portrayals of Holmes -- one gets the feeling he's starting to go through the motions this late in the game -- his characterization benefits greatly by for once having a really effective feminine foil: Hilary Brooke as the evil, sophisticated blonde mesmerist proves a credible enemy. Henry Daniell is also very good as a particularly reptilian Moriarty.
The photography is also noteworthy here. The spookiness of the film's theme of hypnotism is reflected in dark lighting and tilted camera angles which almost make The Woman in Green into an expressionist noir film.
In a nutshell: if you like this series, you are sure to enjoy this film for its combination of elements which you expect in this series with surprising and effective innovations. I saw it as part of the MPI box The complete Sherlock Holmes collection, which is presumably the same as the version on the single disc; the transfer was good.