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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vastly underrated entry in the classic Sherlock Holmes series
You gotta love the classic Sherlock Holmes films - and I certainly do! To be honest, I wasn't expecting all that much out of Terror by Night - it's not often mentioned alongside the best of the series, and I'm not really sure what the reason for that is. Set aboard a speeding train, Terror by Night breathes a claustrophobic atmosphere throughout and does everything that you could possibly want one of these classic pictures to do. The last film in the Sherlock Holmes series, Dressed to Kill, was sub-par (but certainly not bad!) so it's good to see that the entries in the series leading up to that lapse didn't go the same way. The cast outdo themselves as usual, with Basil Rathbone providing the central role as only he can. Nigel Bruce joins him in support as the inept but lovable Dr Watson, and their chemistry is superb as usual. Perhaps not quite as great as some of the earlier films; but then again, they had done this twelve times already by this point. Finally, Dennis Hoey in the role of Scotland Yard inspector Lestrade makes up the cast. His presence really is underrated in the series, and he helps to give the film all-important extra comic dimension.
A few of the Holmes films made during World War Two annoyed me because of the rampant and often ham-fisted propaganda themes, so maybe one of the reason why this film appealed to me so much is that it stays away from any such themes. What we have instead is a streamlined and simple plot, which allows for more of what we tuned in for; namely, Holmes solving a mystery. The great detective has been hired to guard a lady carrying a rare diamond, The Star of Rhodesia, aboard a train bound for Edinburgh. I won't give anything else away, but I will say that while a few of the plot twists become apparent before they happen; most of them don't, and Terror by Night represents a solid hour of mystery. The classic style that makes the other films such a joy is here too; and because of the fact that this film (or any others in the series) never makes a direct bid for greatness, it is easy to enjoy and ignore any flaws that may ensue. This film isn't often mentioned when talking about the best Sherlock Holmes films - and it is topped by certain entries in the series. However, Terror by Night is a more than solid entry and you'll do well not to skip it!
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