79 user 29 critic

Dressed to Kill (1946)

Passed | | Crime, Mystery | 7 June 1946 (USA)
Sherlock Holmes sets out to discover why a trio of murderous villains, including a dangerously attractive female, are desperate to obtain three unassuming and inexpensive little music boxes.


Roy William Neill


Leonard Lee (screenplay), Frank Gruber (adaptation) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Basil Rathbone ... Sherlock Holmes
Nigel Bruce ... Doctor Watson
Patricia Morison ... Mrs. Hilda Courtney
Edmund Breon ... Julian 'Stinky' Emery (as Edmond Breon)
Frederick Worlock ... Col. Cavanaugh (as Frederic Worlock)
Carl Harbord Carl Harbord ... Inspector Hopkins
Patricia Cameron Patricia Cameron ... Evelyn Clifford
Holmes Herbert ... Ebenezer Crabtree
Harry Cording ... Hamid
Leyland Hodgson ... Tour Guide
Mary Gordon ... Mrs. Hudson
Ian Wolfe ... Commissioner of Scotland Yard


Sherlock Holmes is intrigued when Dr. Watson's friend, Julian 'Stinky' Emery, visits and tells them of a strange robbery at his flat the previous night. Stinky is an avid collector of music boxes and has several quite expensive pieces in his vast collection. The previous night, someone broke into his flat and knocked him unconscious when he tried to intervene. All they took however was a simple wooden music box he had bought at auction that day for a mere £2. The box was one of three available for sale and as Holmes and Watson begin to trace the other purchasers, it becomes apparent that someone will stop at nothing, including murder, to retrieve all three. When Holmes learns the identity of the music box maker, he is convinced it contains directions to the retrieval of something very valuable that the government has kept from the public. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


BAFFLING!!...EXCITING!!(print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Palace Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - September 25, 1946 - all caps) See more »


Crime | Mystery


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


During the UCLA Sherlock Holmes Restoration Project (1993-2003) they were unable to find any 35mm elements of the main title for this film. The restored version uses a blow-up from a used 16mm television syndication print which was dissolved into the proper point. The main title of the restored version shows a decrease in resolution, increased grain and a reduction in image registration. See more »


When Sherlock goes to see the auctioneer to ascertain who purchased the music boxes, he reads the purchasers address from the log and says it's on "Hampton Way" In the next scene he visits the house on Hampton Road. He also mentions the "correct" street, Hampton Road in a subsequent scene. See more »


Watson: [remarking on the stolen music box] But that box is only worth two pounds!
Holmes: It's worth a man's life, Watson!
See more »

Crazy Credits

This movie's final credit sequence rolled over a scene of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce leaving Dr. Johnston's house. This sequence was later removed by a TV distributor and has been replaced with a THE END frame from one of the earlier Sherlock Holmes films. See more »

Alternate Versions

The opening credits were also trimmed by the same distributor; the only version the restorers could find that had the film's title on it was from an old broadcast print whose image was blown up to match the size of the rest of the film. See more »


Follows Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) See more »


The Swagman
Australian folk song
Played on a music box several times
Played on piano and on violin by Basil Rathbone and whistled by him
Played on piano by Wallace Scott
See more »

User Reviews

Goodbye old friends - till we meet again
22 May 2005 | by SpondonmanSee all my reviews

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.

60 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 79 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

7 June 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Prelude to Murder See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(video) | (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed