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The last Rathbone Holmes (14/14) is again a slightly weaker affair than
most of the preceding entries, another variant of The Pearl of Death
this time involving music boxes. Music boxes whose tunes play out the
location of the stolen and hidden Bank of England £5 plates no less.
Holmes proves he has an inbuilt police whistle and a photographic(?)
memory for music, whilst Watson says that he likes brass bands but is
tone deaf. The woman here, although a thoroughly bad hat is not The
Woman, the one and only Irene Adler who had bested Holmes in 1891, but
for most of the film she has the upper hand.
By now the steam had left Rathbone, and although Bruce wanted to carry on and Universal held the copyright until 1949 the series had reached its natural conclusion. Director Roy William Neill had less than a year left to live too. Some lovely bits: Holmes consoling Mrs Hudson, distraught at letting 2 people into 221b who turned it over; Holmes' biscuit jar was seen to good advantage. And yes, the bullet holes in the wall from Faces Death were still there at the end! No matter how bad, mawkish or daft this marvellous series got I've always loved every entry. Watching a clean Definitive DVD of this with a lump in my throat I think of Brian Wilson's line "It's so sad to watch a sweet thing die", without even the dignity of end credits (they're lost).
All things must pass.
The last in a wonderful cycle of 14 movies that got launched by a different major production company but always kept the brilliant duo of lead actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and his loyal assistant Dr. Watson. Some say this is a much weaker entry in the series but, quite frankly, I have no idea on what arguments those opinions are based, as this is another marvelously scripted and professionally directed detective adventure! When an old school friend of Dr. Watson is found murdered, Sherlock Holmes immediately suspects that this has something to do with his latest collector's item purchase, namely a wooden musical box. Two other identical boxes were made by a convicted burglar in prison and the altered melody hides a secret code that leads his accomplices to the location of two stolen Bank of England printing plates! True, the valuable-objects-hidden-at-different-locations premise is somewhat similar to the previous Holmes film "The Pearl of Death" and may therefore come across as unoriginal, but the screenplay contains more than enough variety to make "The Secret Code" another very compelling mystery film. Holmes female opponent, for example, is a truly clever woman who nearly succeeds in setting a trap for our brilliant detective during a very well-mounted sequence. Furthermore, "The Secret Code" (I refuse to use the completely irrelevant title "Dressed to Kill") is fast-paced and contains loads of terrific dialogues. As usual, Bruce's character Dr. Watson provides the story with a couple of neat comical moments, most notably the scene in which he tries to comfort a little girl who just got traumatized by imitating the sound of a duck...impressively, I may add.
This is a solid Sherlock Holmes mystery in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel
Bruce series, with an interesting story, a good villainess, and a good
pace once it gets going. Although, as with many movies in the series,
the plot is not found in any of the original Holmes books, a number of
the story elements were drawn or adapted from various Doyle stories. A
number of times Watson also makes reference to one of the 'canonical'
The setup is good, and it produces some interesting possibilities. Holmes must not only figure out a peculiar puzzle involving music boxes, but must do so in a race with a criminal gang that is trying to accomplish the same thing. Patricia Morison makes an elegant adversary for Holmes, and Rathbone and Bruce work well together as always.
Although these later movies in the series do not hold closely to the Victorian atmosphere of the originals, most of them are pretty good in their own right, and while this one mostly follows the usual formula, it is an enjoyable entry in the series.
A suspenseful Holmes and Watson feature about a group of killers out to find three music boxes sold at an auction. The boxes contain something in them that will help lead the crooks to loads of money. Only problem is that Sherlock Holmes is on their trail. Typical good acting and tight direction help this one rise above its somewhat implausible story. The chemistry between Rathbone and Bruce is as ever the binding of the film. Some other good performances are given by Patricia Morrison as a wicked woman and Edmund Breon as "Stinky," a school chum of Watson's. The verbal banter between Morrison and Holmes is for me the most memorable aspect of the film. As I watched the film, the lines slowly crept back into my head. "Praise from you is indeed gratifying Mr. Holmes," and then a line about respecting his memory. Great stuff!
An exceedingly cunning female is DRESSED TO KILL as she challenges
Sherlock Holmes for the possession of three nondescript music boxes
from Dartmoor Prison.
Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce step in front of the movie cameras one last time as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary characters in this intriguing murder mystery. While it's fun to see the plot get solved the real enjoyment comes from simply being in the company of two very fine actors as they breathe life into their roles. As Sherlock Holmes, Rathbone gives us the great detective in all his cerebral glory, putting his whole intellect into breaking an exceptionally difficult code. Bruce, as Dr. Watson, is all bumbling geniality, quietly loyal to his friend, and, for one delightful moment, even quacking like a duck while trying to soothe a distraught child. Rathbone & Bruce gave us one of cinema's iconic partnerships, forever influencing how we cast Doyle's stories in the theater of our minds.
As in all the previous Holmes films a sturdy supporting cast keeps the intricate plot moving along: Patricia Morison as the exceptionally clever woman in search of the music boxes; Holmes Herbert as a punctilious auctioneer; Edmund Breon as an eccentric collector; Frederick Worlock as a crooked colonel; Henry Cording as a sinister chauffeur; Patricia Cameron as a pretty toy shop owner; Ian Wolfe as the Commissioner of Scotland Yard; and dear Mary Gordon back for her final turn as Mrs. Hudson.
Movie mavens will recognize Olaf Hytten as the auction house bookkeeper; Marjorie Bennett as the top shop clerk; comic Charles Hall as a curious taxi driver; and Wally Scott as the busker in the pub whose encyclopedic knowledge of tunes comes in very handy for Holmes. All are uncredited.
This film, which borrowed the merest wisp of an idea from Sir Arthur's A Scandal in Bohemia, followed TERROR BY NIGHT (1946) and was the last in the cinematic series, although Rathbone & Bruce also played Holmes & Watson many scores of times on the radio.
"Dressed to Kill" puts Sherlock Holmes and the devoted but bumbling Dr.
Watson on the trail of a ruthless gang intent on securing - by hook, crook
or thrown dagger - three seemingly innocuous music boxes. The boxes come
from a workshop in one of England's famous prisons. Perhaps vocational
rehabilitation of cons has its downside.
The conspirators - a suave gentleman-type, a thuggish chauffeur and a beautiful woman - come close to writing finis to Holmes's career and his life. Of course they can not succeed where Dr. Moriarty has failed.
Set in a London past the time of Conan Doyle, the film features a never to be overused "follow that cab" episode. The usually exclusively cerebral Holmes here actually does some strenuous exercise and proves handy with a revolver.
Fun to watch, this isn't the best Rathbone/Bruce Holmes film but it's pleasant enough for a late, cold winter night's entertainment.
I have to agree with about everyone here on two things: 1 - it's sad to
see this great combination of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce end its
run of Sherlock Holmes films, and 2 - it's too bad it ended with a
The story involves several music boxes which are made in prison and sold at an auction. Whoever buys them, gets killed. (I was sorry to see Dr. Watson's friend "Stinky" bite the dust so early, as he was one of the more interesting characters.)
The main culprit is a deadly female who reminds Holmes of an ex-foe he has great respect for: "Irene Adler." This character is "Hilda Courtney" (Patricia Morrison).
Actually, if I was grading this, I'd give it a C for "average." It's not the worst one in the series, as some people think, but it's not riveting, either, and I can see why the guys decided to "pack it in" after this one. The end of World War II also signaled the end of this series as a number of them were WWII stories.
It was a wonderful ride. I own all of them in the series and have a high regard for everyone connected with the set. I still think Rathbone is THE Sherlock Holmes and always will be.
Dressed To Kill was the last of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock
Holmes movies. I rather enjoyed this.
Music boxes are sold at an auction and the buyers of these seem to get killed. Holmes and Watson are called to investigate these killings and learn that a young women, who is the leader of a criminal gang has something to do with them. After attempting to kill Holmes, she is caught at the end.
Joining Basil and Nigel in the cast are Patricia Morison as the gang leader and Holmes Herbert.
Dressed To Kill is a good way to spend just over an hour one evening. Great stuff.
Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.
The Master minds -Holmes and Watson- tackle the master crimes . While
Holmes and Watson encounter at 221 Baker Street talking about the
publication of the story 'Scandal in Bohemia with Irene Adler' in the
Strand Review , are visited by an old friend , a collector of
music-boxes , explaining the robbing a special box manufactured by an
inmate from Dartmoor prison . Holmes aware about a series of music
boxes holds the key to plates stolen from the Bank of England . As
always , Sherlock goes into the action dressed in tweed suit , tweed
coat and Fedor , as in his twelve Holmes films produced by 20th Century
Fox and Universal and mostly directed by Roy William Neill . Then he
sets out in pursuit the baddies and in this episode Holmes confronts an
uncanny enemy (Patricia Morrison) with malignant purports . This entry
, as usual , finds Mrs Hudson , but doesn't appear Inspector Lestrade ,
substituting a commissioner of Scotland Yard (the eternal secondary Ian
Wolfe) . At the ending is resolved the case in an exciting conclusion
into library of Samuel Johnson who was a XVIII century poet and author
of a notorious dictionary of English language .
One time terminated the movie , Rathbone dreary on Holmes character decided killing him , such as Arthur Conan Doyle made dropping Holmes into Falls of Reichenbach . This decision along with cancellation the radio-broadcasting proceeded long time ago , originated the followers were deeply annoyed and Nigel Bruce got anger , but he early died . After that , Rathbone only played as Holmes a parody in ¨Milton Berle show¨ and on Broadway stage about a play written by his wife Ouida and with Thomas Gomez as Moriaty . In spite of various historical and important roles performed by Rathbone such as ¨Disraeli¨ and ¨Svengali¨, none surpassed his immortal character , the ideal role for Rathbone and gave him fame and money .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is good fun, even it does involve cold-blooded murder. The
beautiful villainess Hilda Courtney (Patricia Morison) and Mr. Holmes (the
smooth Basil Rathbone) meet each other trick-for-trick and the clues are
hidden in a artful way. It's highly improbably that the code specified would
really work, but we'll suspend our disbelief for this one. Nigel Bruce is
his usual bumbling Dr. Watson, and the flow of the story is fast and
The only flaw I would carp about is the rather easy escape that Sherlock
Holmes effects at the end. It took him only two minutes to escape from his
"dred predicament." Well, it's only a 72 minute movie! I guess they all had
to hurry. They still had time to insert a cute busker's song, "You Never
Know Who You'll Meet."
**Semi spoiler follows** The suspense of the film is not done with the usual slow pan and shock, but with clever sequencing. For instance, when Mrs. Courtney goes into a shop to locate a missing music box (there are three, and combined they contain the clues needed to retrieve a fortune in the form of the plates of the Bank of Englang's five pound note). It appears she has it, then not, then has it again, then not again. Well done! The direction by Roy William Neill (who directed most of the Sherlock Holmes films, if not all of them starring Rathbone) gets the credit here. Worth a rainy day rental.
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