When a Nazi saboteur jeeringly predicts to the nation new depredations, via their radio 'Voice of Terror', the Intellegence Inner Council summons Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) to help in ... Read allWhen a Nazi saboteur jeeringly predicts to the nation new depredations, via their radio 'Voice of Terror', the Intellegence Inner Council summons Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) to help in the crisis.When a Nazi saboteur jeeringly predicts to the nation new depredations, via their radio 'Voice of Terror', the Intellegence Inner Council summons Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) to help in the crisis.
For this newly formatted series opening, the story, based on Conan Doyle's "His Last Bow," starts off with a view of Germany before revealing those listening to a radio broadcast from an Axis enemy mastermind known as "The Voice of Terror" predicting various acts of sabotage that are to take place in their homeland of England. Sir Ryan Barham (Reginald Denny) of the British Inner Council, calls in ace detective Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce) of 221B Baker Street, to help stop Nazi saboteurs working in England. During his latest assignment, Holmes soon finds his life threatened, followed by Gavin (Robert Barron) stumbling into his apartment to keel over with a knife in his back. His last words before dying is "Christopher." Later, Holmes and Watson, come to Limehouse in a very rough section of town to notify, Gavin's girlfriend, Kitty (Evelyn Ankers) of what has just occurred. Holmes acquires further assistance from the young girl whose determined to fight for England and get the one responsible for Gavin's death. Because of her secret meetings with R.F. Meade (Thomas Gomez - in movie debut), it is uncertain whether Kitty is secretly working for or against this supposed Nazi, adding more suspense to the story, which is the writer's intention.
Also in the supporting cast are Henry Daniell (Anthony Lloyd); Leyland Hodgeson (Captain Roland Shore); Montagu Love (General Jerome Lawford); Olaf Hytten (Admiral Fabian Prentiss) and Hillary Brooke (Jill Grandis, a female taxi cab driver). Mary Gordon as Mrs. Hudson appears with no screen credit.
Placing Sherlock Holmes in contemporary times is nothing new, having been done previously in some earlier screen adaptations, notably SHERLOCK HOLMES (Fox, 1932), where Holmes (Clive Brook) and Watson (Reginald Owen) are seen in 1930s Chicago. Universal's view of modernizing Holmes was to take advantage of its dated wartime propaganda theme commonly used in countless other films in the early forties. After a few more similar war-related themes, the writers of this series eventually had it phased out in favor of either original screenplays or those adapted whole or in part from the Conan Doyle stories. Many Holmes fanciers label Rathbone's initial Universal entry to be somewhat on the weak side, making its 65 minute presentation to feel a bit longer that it actually is, but overall, it does have some good points, too. Fortunately under Roy William Neil, who was to direct all future films in the series, some even improving from its predecessor, even to a point of reviving Holmes' arch enemy of Professor Moriarty such as THE WOMAN IN GREEN (1945) as played by Henry Daniell, the same Daniell who appears in this edition of THE VOICE OF TERROR.
Sherlock Holmes is ageless, and quite popular, proving so to what developed into a 16 film theatrical series that lead to Sherlock Holmes festivals quite commonly broadcast on television on any given weekend from the 1950s to 1980s, mainly those Universal editions that open with Holmes and Watson, with credits superimposed over their images as the camera follows them walking through the street of uncertainty.
Distributed to home video in the 1980s and later DVD, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VOICE OF TERROR's most recent cable TV offering turned up on Turner Classic Movies where this, and others in that series, premiered December 26, 2009, to commemorate the release of the latest theatrical SHERLOCK HOLMES as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. Though the 2009 edition of Holmes retained its turn of the century outlook, it's even more contemporary through its actions. Regardless of how many actors have played Holmes and Watson on screen, the best remains for many, to be the one and only Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Next installment: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON (1942) (***)
- Oct 14, 2013