Holmes and Watson are recruited in a serpentine fashion to escort the heir to a European throne back to his native country following his father's assassination. Because the prince has been educated in Great Britain, Holmes persuades him to masquerade as Watson's nephew Nikolas on an ocean liner bound for Algiers. Unfortunately, the ship is filled with red herrings as well as real assassins and Holmes is challenged to outwit them all and deliver his charge to his destination. Among the suspects are a knife-throwing circus performer, two shadowy archaeologists, a hulking deaf mute, an enigmatic ship's steward, a chanteuse with a mysterious song case, and a gun-toting British dowager.Written by
This is the only Holmes film that you see Holmes wearing pyjamas. See more »
Gubec, the deaf mute, shoves Holmes out of camera range and in five seconds has him not only bound securely with rope but gagged with a knotted handkerchief as well. See more »
Dr. John H. Watson:
Oh, Stimson, thank you for keeping open so late to take care of us.
Oh, that's quite all right, sir. Eh, this gun is an excellent selection, Mr. Holmes. You ought to get plenty of grouse.
Dr. John H. Watson:
Grouse, silly little birds, not worth the trouble of eating after you shoot them.
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The definitive movie Sherlock Holmes is Basil Rathbone; the definitive movie Dr. Watson is Nigel Bruce. Together, these two brilliant actors made fourteen Sherlock Holmes films between 1939 and 1946, most of them loosely based on stories by Arthur Conan Doyle; a few based on Doyle stories in name only. All are thrilling, exciting excursions into the realm of mystery and deductive reasoning, even the later low-budget ones.
The original pairing of the super sleuth with his bumbling if lovable assistant portrayed by Rathbone and Bruce was in "The Hound of the Baskervilles," where star billing went to Richard Greene as Sir Henry Baskerville. The popularity of Holmes and Watson showed the studio that the audience cared more for the two supporting players than for the somewhat stiff Greene. Next time in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," Rathbone and Bruce deservedly received top billing.
During World War II with England in peril from the Luftwaffe, Holmes and Watson were utilized to booster the war spirit. Holmes could be heard at the end of the war-time films haranguing his fellow countrymen and their ally, the United States, about patriotism and gallantry. Winston Churchill was touted as the savior of his nation.
"Pursuit to Algiers," based on Doyle's "The Return of Sherlock Holmes," finds the crafty detective helping escort Nikolas (Leslie Vincent), heir of a foreign country and a target for conspirators, to assume his crown following the assassination of his predecessor. There are many clever scenes involving Dr. Watson unknowingly being used as a decoy to protect Nikolas. When Nikolas' supporters first contact Holmes surreptitiously, they employ a ruse involving a fish and chips cypher, beyond Watson's grasp. In the process Watson is propositioned by a hooker who calls the good doctor, Ducky, much to his chagrin. Holmes takes the high road by plane; Watson takes the low road by boat. There is much chicanery aboard the ship that takes up most of the movie. The ending may come as a surprise for many.
One of the high points of "Pursuit to Algiers" is Watson's story of "The Giant Rat of Sumatra." Entreated by his fellow passengers to tell about one of Sherlock Holmes' greatest adventures, Watson volunteers to entertain all with his giant rat fable. His use of inanimate objects on the table for purposes of illustration to make the exploits he relates more colorful is well worth the price of admission.
There are more songs than usual for a Sherlock Holmes outing. Such traditional Scottish airs as "Flow Gently Sweet Afton," sung by Marjorie Riordan as a girl from Brooklyn named Sheila Woodbury with something hidden in her sheet music satchel and "Loch Lomond," sung by Watson himself, not only serve as icing but are utilized to embellish the plot.
The twelfth in the Sherlock Holmes series and coming at the end of the war, "Pursuit to Algiers" is one of the most entertaining of the lot and there is no rousing speechifying by Holmes at the end. Those speeches were wonderful morale buildings at the time, but are a bit quaint for today's audiences.
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