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.
Sherlock Holmes investigates when young women around London turn up murdered, each with a finger severed off. Scotland Yard suspects a madman, but Holmes believes the killings to be part of a diabolical plot.
Holmes is hired by Roland Carstairs to prevent the theft of the Star of Rhodesia, an enormous diamond owned by Carstairs' mother, Lady Margaret. Believing the diamond will be stolen on a train trip from London to Edinburgh, Holmes deftly switches diamonds with Lady Margaret while in her compartment. Soon after, Roland is murdered and the fake diamond is stolen. Red herrings abound as Holmes, aided by Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade, discover the murderer's hiding place and deduce that long-time foe Moriarty's henchman Colonel Sebastian Moran is somehow involved in the crime. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
In the Conan Doyle story "The Empty House", Col. Sebastian Moran kills a young man named Ronald. In this film, "Terror by Night", the young man's name has been changed to Roland. In one scene, Basil Rathbone inadvertently refers to Roland as "Ronald". See more »
I'm especially fond of this late entry in the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes series of the forties. It's one of the more cheaply made ones, set almost entirely aboard as fast-moving train. The story concerns Holmes' efforts to make sure that a valuable diamond, the Star Of Rhodesia, does not get stolen. There are some awfully suspicious characters around, some of them quite cranky. Holmes is his usual unflappable self, Watson bumbles and enrages people, Inspector LeStrade is his always stupid and yet somehow reassuring self. The supporting cast is, as usual for this series, exceedingly well-chosen. Skelton Knaggs makes the most of his small role. I especially like Alan Mowbray's performance as a fellow who pals around with Watson. Mowbray was smooth as silk as an actor, and in his languid way as sharp as Rathbone. The revelation of the criminal and the circumstances surrounding it are handled in a manner surprisingly baroque even for a Sherlock Holmes film, and are so sudden and jarring,--one doesn't expect the movie to end quite this way--that the ending actually improves on the second and third viewing. How many films can you say that about?
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