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The Spider Woman (1944)

7.5
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Reviews: 40 user | 16 critic

Sherlock Holmes investigates a series of so-called "pajama suicides". He knows the female villain behind them is as cunning as Moriarty and as venomous as a spider.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Adrea Spedding
Dennis Hoey ...
Vernon Downing ...
Norman Locke
Alec Craig ...
Henchman Radlik
Arthur Hohl ...
Adam Gilflower
Mary Gordon ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sylvia Andrew ...
Charwoman (scenes deleted)
Marie De Becker ...
Charwoman (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Sherlock Holmes takes on a case that the press has dubbed the pajama suicides. Eminent men are going to bed in the safety of their own homes, with everything seemingly being normal, only to commit suicide in the night. Holmes fakes his own death in the hopes of giving him a freer hand in the investigation and is convinced that a woman, a female Moriarty as he describes her, is behind the deaths. The dead men were all eminent and very wealthy. He impersonates a wealthy retired Indian military officer in the hope of drawing out the woman and he soon meets Adrea Spedding but she quickly sees through his disguise and proves herself to be the challenge Holmes predicted she would be. She is a worthy adversary and soon traps him setting him up in a carnival shooting gallery that seems to assure his death. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Mistress of Murder! See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 January 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A follow-up, The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946), has no relation to the HOLMES feature, as Gale Sondergaard plays a completely different character. See more »

Goofs

Adam Gilflower is summoned by Holmes to identify the dead spider because, says Holmes, "I believe you know more about spiders than any man in London." Gilflower identifies the spider, but incorrectly observes that it is "the deadliest insect known to science." See more »

Quotes

Sherlock Holmes: I'm sorry, Watson. The pleasures of the chase are no longer for me. I'm through with crime forever.
See more »

Connections

Follows The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
It's an open and shut case... with air-holes drilled into it.
27 November 2011 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard), the evil mastermind of The Spider Woman, concocts a particularly absurd scheme in order to make herself filthy rich: she convinces wealthy men with cash flow problems to use their life insurance policies as collateral against a loan; then she bumps them off, not with anything as simple as a gun or dagger, but by releasing a pygmy into the ventilation ducts where they live, and having him release a poisonous spider into their bedroom while they sleep. So excruciating is the pain from the spider's bite, that the men hurl themselves to their death rather than endure the agony. With no clues as to why the men have killed themselves (the obedient spider obviously having wandered back into the vent having done his duty), the press report these mysterious deaths as 'pyjama suicides'.

Holmes (Basil Rathbone) naturally suspects otherwise and cooks up with own crazy plan to discover the truth: whilst enjoying a relaxing fishing break in Scotland with trusty sidekick Watson (Nigel Bruce), the great detective fakes his own death, and then adopts a series of silly disguises to investigate the case, soon coming face to face with The Spider Woman, who proves to be every bit as devious and deadly as Holmes' old nemesis Moriarty, but better looking.

This preposterous plot makes for one of the most entertaining films in the series, Holmes' sporting patently false facial hair for his roles as a rude postie and a down-on-his luck Indian Rajni Singh, Watson making a complete fool of himself with an eminent entomologist, and Spedding ordering pint-sized Obongo from the Congo, the Prancing Pygmy (Angelo Rossitto, one-half of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome's Master Blaster) back into his case! The film also benefits from a suitably silly ending in which Adrea tries to do away with Holmes in a manner so convoluted it would shame Austin Powers' Dr. Evil: she ties him up in a fairground shooting gallery, his heart directly behind one of the targets, and leaves it up to an oblivious Watson to do her dirty work!


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Not the movie I was looking for - where are the mechanical spiders? P_Bear
Pigmy-creature? yeoffthecat
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