Lamont Cranston (Rod La Rocque), amateur criminologist and detective, with a daily radio program, sponsored by the Daily Classic newspaper, has developed a friendly feud that sometimes ... See full summary »
Rod La Rocque,
Thomas E. Jackson
When the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond is stolen on a London to Edinburgh train and the son of its owner is murdered, Sherlock Holmes must discover which of his suspicious fellow passengers is responsible.
During WWII several murders occur at a convalescent home where Dr. Watson has volunteered his services. He summons Holmes for help and the master detective proceeds to solve the crime from ... See full summary »
An artist's daughter becomes suspicious when new paintings by her supposedly dead father begin turning up in New York. When a gallery owner is murdered, the Falcon and Miss Wade head for ... See full summary »
Holmes and Watson on a transatlantic ocean liner escorting Nikolas, heir to a foreign throne. Also on board are a number of assassins, plotting against their sovereign. Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
Tightly-Plotted and Tidy Thriller; a Seminal Shipboard Battle of Wits
Since the wartime production (1945) of the Sherlock Holmes' adventure, "Pursuit to Algiers", many films have been made involving a seagoing setting. Mysteries set aboard a ship I suggest are notoriously easy to begin and difficult to consummate; this is because it is easy to introduce characters in a claustrophobic setting but notoriously more difficult to arrange for a series of logical events perpetrated by them that is varied, believable and possessed of a wide-enough scope of action. I find "Pursuit to Algiers" to be an unusually believable decently-filmed low-budget ship-based adventure and a tidy storyline without any need for apologies. The writers began the piece on land, in fact using a low-grade but intriguing series of clues--recognized by detective Sherlock Holmes as such--to lure him to an expositional meeting. At that meeting, the Prime Minister of a fictitious Balkan country, one whose king has been murdered (though this fact has not been made public), hires the famous consulting detective to safeguard the nation's young prince as he heads home from his school in England to his homeland for a now-vital coronation ceremony. Holmes accepts the commission; then he heads off in an airplane, planning to meet his friend Dr. Watson later, for several reasons. Watson has cause to believe he has been killed; but he eventually does meet his partner aboard the ship they had planned to sail on, after several neat plot twists and a display of unusual intelligence by Holmes; and from then on, the two are kept exceptionally busy trying to assess who the potential murderers are (who will be their deadly opponents). They are given a fairly large cast of suspects to choose from. Holmes then neatly thwarts the villains at every turn, until near the end he is knocked unconscious and the prince is kidnapped--exactly as Holmes had planned. Basil Rathbone is less effective than usual as Holmes and Nigel Bruce more useful as Watson than he was usually permitted to be; he sings beautifully, and acts as an effective comedic foil to his sharp-eyed and sharp-witted partner throughout. Among the larger than usual cast for a Holmesian adventure, Rosalind Ivan as a noisy matron is far better than thin, pretty Marjorie Riordan who sings better than she acts. Veteran heavies Martin Kosleck, John Abbott, Rex Evans and Gerald Hamer steal the film as clever but outwitted suspects or murderers; aboard such a small ship, the scenarists permit the suspects and even the villains to interact with and try to outthink Holmes quite directly, a rarity outside seagoing comedic tales (and, I find, the film's primary distinguishing feature). Frederick Worlock is affecting as the Prime Minister; the young men in the cast are all routine at best. This film was kept moving swiftly and ably by its producer-director, veteran Roy William Neill; the script was done as a screenplay by Leonard Lee adapted from elements of an Arthur Conan Doyle story. The feature's cinematography by Paul Ivano and art direction by John B. Goodman and Martin Obzina are above average; Vera West's costumes are done on an admirably high level throughout. Bernard Brown, for once, keeps a British film's voices and sounds perfectly intelligible. Some of the scenes aboard the ship are quite realistic; others are less successful, although Russell A. Gausman and Ralph Sylos try manfully to make every setting from a cafe to cramped staterooms believable. The seminal portions of this film I assert are the dialogue interactions of the characters which take place throughout; despite the dialogue sometimes being low-key, it is adult, convincing and serviceable from beginning to end. This is a very good second feature by my standards, if no more, on a par with The Woman in White, and quite tightly plotted.
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