Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)

A man in Switzerland has invented a new weapon to bomb enemies in World War II.  England has made an agreement with this man so they can use his weapon.  Unfortunately, Germany knows about the man and they want him for their use.  It is up to Sherlock Holmes to protect this man and make sure that he does not fall into Nazi hands.

I never really watched any of the "Sherlock Holmes" films growing up and I regret that.  They are incredible.  They were produced by Universal in the late 1930s and 1940s.  They are filled with character actors that were on contract from Universal.  Since you all know I love the Universal Monster movies, the "Sherlock Holmes" movies are kind of like watching monster movies I have never seen.  All of the same actors, sets, directors, and music are used.  But besides its tie in with monsters, the "Holmes" films are great in their own right.

Basil Rathbone plays Sherlock Holmes and he is great in this role.  It is a perfect role for him.  He sort of reminds me of Indiana Jones because not only is he a great adventurer that can hold his own in a fight, but he is very intelligent as well.  The best thing about Holmes are the many disguises that he uses.  Many times he will use elaborate make-ups to go behind enemy lines.  I love these moments.  He does this twice in "The Secret Weapon".  While in Switzerland, he disguises himself as an old man selling books and when back home in England, he disguises himself as an ex-convict sailor.  These disguises really display the versatile acting abilities of Rathbone.

Nigel Bruce plays Watson in the "Holmes" films and he is great also.  He is perfect with his comedy relief.  He really plays well off of Rathbone.  When Watson is on screen, it is hard to keep a straight face.  His performance adds humor to what might be a serious mystery thriller.  It really helps move the story along.

Lionel Atwill plays the villain in "The Secret Weapon".  He is a mastermind criminal who is looking for the secret weapon himself.  Atwill does a good job in this role.  He was born to play criminal roles like this.  Atwill is always good in everything that he does.  Unfortunately his career came to a stand still after he was arrested by police for having a sex orgy at his residence.  

Roy William Neill directs "The Secret Weapon" and he does a good job.  Neill also directed one of my favorite films "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man".  Neill has a good talent for creating mood and atmosphere.  He didn't work on any "A" pictures in his career, but he really was a great director.

"Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon" is great fun.  The film never lagged and I was always interested to see the different ways that Holmes solves his puzzles. 

B+  I recommend it.

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