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Goodbye old friends - till we meet again
Spondonman22 May 2005
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.
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Solid Entry in the Rathbone/Bruce Series
Snow Leopard21 June 2005
This is a solid Sherlock Holmes mystery in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series, with an interesting story, a good villainess, and a good pace once it gets going. Although, as with many movies in the series, the plot is not found in any of the original Holmes books, a number of the story elements were drawn or adapted from various Doyle stories. A number of times Watson also makes reference to one of the 'canonical' cases.

The setup is good, and it produces some interesting possibilities. Holmes must not only figure out a peculiar puzzle involving music boxes, but must do so in a race with a criminal gang that is trying to accomplish the same thing. Patricia Morison makes an elegant adversary for Holmes, and Rathbone and Bruce work well together as always.

Although these later movies in the series do not hold closely to the Victorian atmosphere of the originals, most of them are pretty good in their own right, and while this one mostly follows the usual formula, it is an enjoyable entry in the series.
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Watson the Duck!
Coventry8 January 2006
The last in a wonderful cycle of 14 movies that got launched by a different major production company but always kept the brilliant duo of lead actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and his loyal assistant Dr. Watson. Some say this is a much weaker entry in the series but, quite frankly, I have no idea on what arguments those opinions are based, as this is another marvelously scripted and professionally directed detective adventure! When an old school friend of Dr. Watson is found murdered, Sherlock Holmes immediately suspects that this has something to do with his latest collector's item purchase, namely a wooden musical box. Two other identical boxes were made by a convicted burglar in prison and the altered melody hides a secret code that leads his accomplices to the location of two stolen Bank of England printing plates! True, the valuable-objects-hidden-at-different-locations premise is somewhat similar to the previous Holmes film "The Pearl of Death" and may therefore come across as unoriginal, but the screenplay contains more than enough variety to make "The Secret Code" another very compelling mystery film. Holmes female opponent, for example, is a truly clever woman who nearly succeeds in setting a trap for our brilliant detective during a very well-mounted sequence. Furthermore, "The Secret Code" (I refuse to use the completely irrelevant title "Dressed to Kill") is fast-paced and contains loads of terrific dialogues. As usual, Bruce's character Dr. Watson provides the story with a couple of neat comical moments, most notably the scene in which he tries to comfort a little girl who just got traumatized by imitating the sound of a duck...impressively, I may add.
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Their Last Bow
Ron Oliver8 July 2005
An exceedingly cunning female is DRESSED TO KILL as she challenges Sherlock Holmes for the possession of three nondescript music boxes from Dartmoor Prison.

Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce step in front of the movie cameras one last time as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary characters in this intriguing murder mystery. While it's fun to see the plot get solved the real enjoyment comes from simply being in the company of two very fine actors as they breathe life into their roles. As Sherlock Holmes, Rathbone gives us the great detective in all his cerebral glory, putting his whole intellect into breaking an exceptionally difficult code. Bruce, as Dr. Watson, is all bumbling geniality, quietly loyal to his friend, and, for one delightful moment, even quacking like a duck while trying to soothe a distraught child. Rathbone & Bruce gave us one of cinema's iconic partnerships, forever influencing how we cast Doyle's stories in the theater of our minds.

As in all the previous Holmes films a sturdy supporting cast keeps the intricate plot moving along: Patricia Morison as the exceptionally clever woman in search of the music boxes; Holmes Herbert as a punctilious auctioneer; Edmund Breon as an eccentric collector; Frederick Worlock as a crooked colonel; Henry Cording as a sinister chauffeur; Patricia Cameron as a pretty toy shop owner; Ian Wolfe as the Commissioner of Scotland Yard; and dear Mary Gordon back for her final turn as Mrs. Hudson.

Movie mavens will recognize Olaf Hytten as the auction house bookkeeper; Marjorie Bennett as the top shop clerk; comic Charles Hall as a curious taxi driver; and Wally Scott as the busker in the pub whose encyclopedic knowledge of tunes comes in very handy for Holmes. All are uncredited.

This film, which borrowed the merest wisp of an idea from Sir Arthur's A Scandal in Bohemia, followed TERROR BY NIGHT (1946) and was the last in the cinematic series, although Rathbone & Bruce also played Holmes & Watson many scores of times on the radio.
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"Praise From You Is Indeed Gratifying"
BaronBl00d10 August 2001
A suspenseful Holmes and Watson feature about a group of killers out to find three music boxes sold at an auction. The boxes contain something in them that will help lead the crooks to loads of money. Only problem is that Sherlock Holmes is on their trail. Typical good acting and tight direction help this one rise above its somewhat implausible story. The chemistry between Rathbone and Bruce is as ever the binding of the film. Some other good performances are given by Patricia Morrison as a wicked woman and Edmund Breon as "Stinky," a school chum of Watson's. The verbal banter between Morrison and Holmes is for me the most memorable aspect of the film. As I watched the film, the lines slowly crept back into my head. "Praise from you is indeed gratifying Mr. Holmes," and then a line about respecting his memory. Great stuff!
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The Last of the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes Stories
Ralph Michael Stein20 February 2004
"Dressed to Kill" puts Sherlock Holmes and the devoted but bumbling Dr. Watson on the trail of a ruthless gang intent on securing - by hook, crook or thrown dagger - three seemingly innocuous music boxes. The boxes come from a workshop in one of England's famous prisons. Perhaps vocational rehabilitation of cons has its downside.

The conspirators - a suave gentleman-type, a thuggish chauffeur and a beautiful woman - come close to writing finis to Holmes's career and his life. Of course they can not succeed where Dr. Moriarty has failed.

Set in a London past the time of Conan Doyle, the film features a never to be overused "follow that cab" episode. The usually exclusively cerebral Holmes here actually does some strenuous exercise and proves handy with a revolver.

Fun to watch, this isn't the best Rathbone/Bruce Holmes film but it's pleasant enough for a late, cold winter night's entertainment.

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The Last Of The Wonderful Rathbone-Bruce Holmes Movies
ccthemovieman-124 September 2007
I have to agree with about everyone here on two things: 1 - it's sad to see this great combination of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce end its run of Sherlock Holmes films, and 2 - it's too bad it ended with a mediocre film.

The story involves several music boxes which are made in prison and sold at an auction. Whoever buys them, gets killed. (I was sorry to see Dr. Watson's friend "Stinky" bite the dust so early, as he was one of the more interesting characters.)

The main culprit is a deadly female who reminds Holmes of an ex-foe he has great respect for: "Irene Adler." This character is "Hilda Courtney" (Patricia Morrison).

Actually, if I was grading this, I'd give it a C for "average." It's not the worst one in the series, as some people think, but it's not riveting, either, and I can see why the guys decided to "pack it in" after this one. The end of World War II also signaled the end of this series as a number of them were WWII stories.

It was a wonderful ride. I own all of them in the series and have a high regard for everyone connected with the set. I still think Rathbone is THE Sherlock Holmes and always will be.
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Beware of the "deadly" music boxes
Chris Gaskin4 April 2005
Dressed To Kill was the last of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies. I rather enjoyed this.

Music boxes are sold at an auction and the buyers of these seem to get killed. Holmes and Watson are called to investigate these killings and learn that a young women, who is the leader of a criminal gang has something to do with them. After attempting to kill Holmes, she is caught at the end.

Joining Basil and Nigel in the cast are Patricia Morison as the gang leader and Holmes Herbert.

Dressed To Kill is a good way to spend just over an hour one evening. Great stuff.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.
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Last entry Rathbone-Holmes with intrigue , tension and suspenseful
ma-cortes20 December 2007
The Master minds -Holmes and Watson- tackle the master crimes . While Holmes and Watson encounter at 221 Baker Street talking about the publication of the story 'Scandal in Bohemia with Irene Adler' in the Strand Review , are visited by an old friend , a collector of music-boxes , explaining the robbing a special box manufactured by an inmate from Dartmoor prison . Holmes aware about a series of music boxes holds the key to plates stolen from the Bank of England . As always , Sherlock goes into the action dressed in tweed suit , tweed coat and Fedor , as in his twelve Holmes films produced by 20th Century Fox and Universal and mostly directed by Roy William Neill . Then he sets out in pursuit the baddies and in this episode Holmes confronts an uncanny enemy (Patricia Morrison) with malignant purports . This entry , as usual , finds Mrs Hudson , but doesn't appear Inspector Lestrade , substituting a commissioner of Scotland Yard (the eternal secondary Ian Wolfe) . At the ending is resolved the case in an exciting conclusion into library of Samuel Johnson who was a XVIII century poet and author of a notorious dictionary of English language .

One time terminated the movie , Rathbone dreary on Holmes character decided killing him , such as Arthur Conan Doyle made dropping Holmes into Falls of Reichenbach . This decision along with cancellation the radio-broadcasting proceeded long time ago , originated the followers were deeply annoyed and Nigel Bruce got anger , but he early died . After that , Rathbone only played as Holmes a parody in ¨Milton Berle show¨ and on Broadway stage about a play written by his wife Ouida and with Thomas Gomez as Moriaty . In spite of various historical and important roles performed by Rathbone such as ¨Disraeli¨ and ¨Svengali¨, none surpassed his immortal character , the ideal role for Rathbone and gave him fame and money .
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Good fun in a goodbye to Sherlock Holmes
train46425 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The movie is good fun, even it does involve cold-blooded murder. The beautiful villainess Hilda Courtney (Patricia Morison) and Mr. Holmes (the smooth Basil Rathbone) meet each other trick-for-trick and the clues are hidden in a artful way. It's highly improbably that the code specified would really work, but we'll suspend our disbelief for this one. Nigel Bruce is his usual bumbling Dr. Watson, and the flow of the story is fast and sensible. The only flaw I would carp about is the rather easy escape that Sherlock Holmes effects at the end. It took him only two minutes to escape from his "dred predicament." Well, it's only a 72 minute movie! I guess they all had to hurry. They still had time to insert a cute busker's song, "You Never Know Who You'll Meet."

**Semi spoiler follows** The suspense of the film is not done with the usual slow pan and shock, but with clever sequencing. For instance, when Mrs. Courtney goes into a shop to locate a missing music box (there are three, and combined they contain the clues needed to retrieve a fortune in the form of the plates of the Bank of Englang's five pound note). It appears she has it, then not, then has it again, then not again. Well done! The direction by Roy William Neill (who directed most of the Sherlock Holmes films, if not all of them starring Rathbone) gets the credit here. Worth a rainy day rental.
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Rathbone and Bruce go out on a high note!
marxi26 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"Dressed to Kill" is a very strong entry in the Sherlock Holmes movies that starred Basil Rathford and Nigel Bruce, and it also unfortunately happens to be the last as the series ended after this film.


"Stinky" (Edmond Breon), an old school chum of Dr. Watson's (Nigel Bruce) ends up with a knife in his back and Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) is out to solve this 'musical' mystery. Plain wooden music boxes from an auction house are turning out to be a hot commodity worth killing for in this thriller. Hilda (Patricia Morison) is colluding with the colonel (Frederick Worlock) to obtain music boxes which contain a code disclosing the whereabouts of some plates for minting five pound notes stolen from the Bank of England. The race is on to get the music boxes and decipher their hidden code as Sherlock Holmes matches wits with Hilda who turns out to be one of his most formidable opponents.

If the Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathford and Nigel Bruce had to end in 1946, it's at least nice to know they went out on a high note. This well directed mystery is captivating from beginning to end. Rathbone and Bruce have obvious movie chemistry in this caper. Patricia Morison is delightful to watch in a brilliant performance as Holmes' foe. Edmond Breon as 'Stinky' steals every scene he's in. This movie is so well done that it's more fun to watch it the second and third times than to watch most movies the first time. It's a near classic that should entertain movie lovers of just about any type. I rate it 84/100.
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The last of the finest.
Shawn Watson10 November 2007
In their last on-screen outing as Holmes and Watson (they still did radio plays with each other after this movie) Rathbone and Bruce find themselves involved in a music box mystery. It seems that anyone who bought one of three matching boxes from a recent auction ends up either dead or with a nasty bump on the head. Assuming that there must be a weird connection Holmes takes the case.

The story rivals even The Voice of Terror in terms of sheer implausibility. When the purpose of the music box is reveal you have to wonder why anyone would go to all that effort. But it's still entertaining and Patricia Morrison makes for a brilliant villainess.

Producer and Director Roy William Neill died not long after this film was released, which is probably why it ended up being the last. They could have went on a lot longer, especially if they started using some of Conan Doyle's original works (something that they very rarely did, opting for original screenplays instead), although this one does reference two of stories as past cases.

A fine, if unspectacular end of a definitive era.
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"The truth is only arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue."
classicsoncall2 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I must say, this film had a clever plot and the solution to the mystery was dealt with following a logical succession of clues and deductions. This is only the third Sherlock Holmes film I've seen, but story wise it stands far superior to the Charlie Chan films of the same era that end with Chan's explanation of how he deduced the murderer, but the viewer otherwise has no clue of how he got there.

"Dressed to Kill" tells the story of three music boxes, whose history begins at England's Darthmor Prison where they were all made by the same inmate. Together, their similar musical tunes hint at the location of stolen five pound note printing plates that the Bank of England fears may erode the British economy if they are used to flood the country with illegal tender.

Holmes' chief protagonist in this case goes by the name of Hilda Courtney (Patricia Morrison), who cleverly baits him into a trap as she bears down on the remaining music box in Holmes' possession. The only problem I have with the film is the rather easy way in which the kidnapped Holmes manages to secure the key to the handcuffs he has been bound with.

I'll assume that the title "Dressed to Kill" refers to the rather elegant attire of Ms. Courtney, even though one of her disguises placed her as a charwoman. A more fitting name would be the British working title - "Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Code". All in all, I found the story to be a clever mystery, logically presented and brought to a satisfying conclusion.
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Can you name that tune?
Michael O'Keefe16 June 2004
Basil Rathbone stars in his fourteenth and final movie as Arthur Conan Doyle's super detective Sherlock Holmes. An interesting plot and mystery for Holmes and his faithful assistant Dr. Watson(Nigel Bruce)to solve. The title I assume must be referring to the winsome antagonist(Patricia Morison)that tries to find three music boxes before Holmes. Three identical music boxes were made by a prison inmate and sold at auction to three different collectors in London. One of the boxes was traced to one of Watson's old schoolmates(Edmund Breon), who is murdered and robbed of the newly purchased music box. The plot thickens as Holmes and Watson discover that the musical boxes contain more than just playing an old Australian folk song. Also in the cast are: Fredrick Worlock, Patricia Cameron and Carl Harbord.
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She Will Always Be The Woman
theowinthrop12 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The final film of the Universal series of "Sherlock Holmes" films with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce was DRESSED TO KILL. It is not one of the best films, but in this series even a below par film is better than many other similar "B" film mysteries. Rathbone and Bruce play the Detective and Dr. Watson with all the ease (and in Rathbone's case, personal contempt) of dealing with a pair of old friends. The familiar face of Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade is missing. Interestingly, the authors of the series included another one of the Doyle story Inspectors (Stanley Hopkins - here Carl Harboard) as the link with the Yard. Hopkins, for those who are not in the know, appeared in four of the short stories after 1905. He's not the only link to the made up story here.

Mrs. Hilda Courtney was a former actress, and she is the villain in this film (abetted by Colonel Cavanaugh and Hamid - Frederick Worlock and Henry Cording). Worlock had appeared in TERROR BY NIGHT as the math professor who gives Nigel Bruce a hard time when the latter makes the error of trying to question him while not being a policeman. He was also Philip Musgrave in SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH. Cording appeared as the owner of the pottery factory which made the busts of Napoleon in THE PEARL OF DEATH, and earlier was the sea captain (and member of the "Good Comrades") in THE HOUSE OF FEAR. Mrs. Courtney was portrayed by Patricia Medina.

Ms Medina is one of the tragic waste stories of Hollywood. Terribly attractive, sexy, and with a wonderful voice and stage presence, she is remembered for her originating the role of Kate in KISS ME KATE by Cole Porter (which she did not do in the movie version - Kathryn Grayson did - but fortunately did on television, which version survives). While she had a fine stage career Hollywood ignored her. And as a result this film may be considered her best remembered film performance. She is properly sexy and dangerous here.

Mrs. Courtney is not a character from the Holmes stories, but she is a type of substitute clone (not quite though) for Irene Adler in A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA (the first Holmes short story, and the only one where Holmes does not quite win). Due to Adler's success, Holmes frequently thinks of her as "The Woman" (which is mentioned in this film). Adler in the original was blackmailing the King of Bohemia, but here Mrs. Courtney has eyes on a bigger deal. It seems that her gang has possible access to a set of plates for the printing of perfect duplicate five pound notes. If they get the complete set it can rock the British economy.

Somehow I suspect the plot line here was based on some knowledge by the script writers of a Nazi scheme called "Operation Reinhart". The scheme was created by the evil Reinhart Heydrich, creator of the "Final Solution" and victim of an assassination style execution in Czechoslovakia in 1942 that led to widespread reprisals (see HANGMEN ALSO DIE or HITLER'S MADMAN). He planned to get perfect replicas of British currency printed in Germany in the millions, and than flood the British Isles with them to ruin England's economy (this was told in the comic series PRIVATE SCHULTZ with Ian Richardson back in the 1980s). The scheme never got anywhere - except the perfect bank forgeries were created.

The plates turn out to be hidden in music boxes (similar to the Borgia Pearl in THE SIX NAPOLEONS and the film version called THE PEARL OF DEATH). Gradually it becomes a battle that Mrs. Courtney keeps winning against Holmes in trying to find the missing plates. In the course of the story an obscure poison almost does in Holmes and Watson (as in the story THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEVIL FOOT ROOT). It again is due to a comment that Bruce's Watson says that Holmes finally solves the case. I will only add that Watson (and Bruce) being Scotish is a bright man at base, even if he eats oats, a food that is eaten by men in Scotland and horses in England.
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not the best, but still entertaining
GreyFox3724 April 2001
this wasn't the greatest of the 14 main sherlock holmes videos, but it has a very interesting plot behind it. this movie has it all, secret codes, espionage, disguises, a beautiful woman, and a huge reward. this is the last of the 14 and it was my second least favorite. still, you might as well see it since its sherlock holmes with rathbone.
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Good film of Sherlock Holmes
psagray10 April 2009
Is a film of the decade of the 40, where llives a Sherlock Holmes that competes with a band of criminals. One of them, which is in prison, knows the situation of the loot and what he know the other through some boxes of music that manufacture in prison and sold in an auction house.It is a movie simple , which manages maintain acceptably tension and the mystery of the conflict, does not make movements of camera, but maintains the scenes with frames and light and shade. Has aspects of theater. The photography of Maury Gertsman shows the city of London splendidly and the soundtrack is right. Definitivaes Is a film simple , fun, and that does not disappoint
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The Rathbone adaptations
Cristi_Ciopron24 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
By a conjuncture I have found out that an interesting actor called Rathbone existed –rather long before I had the chance of seeing how he looks like. From some information I gathered that Rathbone was not a handsome man, but quite an ugly one—I imagined him like a sort of Ustinov or maybe Laughton. (Why? In an almanac there was a line about his villain roles. I supposed he ought to be an ugly villain, even a fat and ungainly one.) Therefore, later, upon seeing him as Holmes in the well—known Holmes exploitation flicks, I often found myself wondering if I find him of some physical beauty.

His Holmes flicks are averagely successful—with the performances being sensibly better than the flicks. Their charm is real, and convincing.

These adaptations do unexpected, illicit justice to Watson—showing him as funny and kind and harmless; he is more delightful than Rathbone himself.

It's good they have chosen an athlete for Holmes (--mostly because this athlete was the unique Rathbone). On the other hand, Rathbone's performance, simple, unadorned, straight, virile, without whims and antics, is right and satisfying. His Holmes is physical, athletic, less—inward looking than that of others'; hence, also considerably less decadent than that of the stories . Doyle is better than the adaptations, yet the Rathbone flicks are a honorable amusement ,and also a plausible reading of the literary sources. I have written elsewhere about the disingenuous fact of asking from these movies things they are not meant to have. The '60s TV shows, the Simon Templar Roger Moore flicks, the Lugosi movies, etc., are, on various degrees, on various steps of the scale, honoring their vows. It is unfair to ask for subtler, more original things FROM THEM, as if they were supposed to be what they are not. They fulfill their function—albeit it is a modest, unassuming one. Take them as they are. They do not pretend to be top thrillers, exercises in originality and unconventional approach, etc., but simple, unassuming, modest, funny flicks. They are what they claim to be—not Wilder, Lang, Aldrich, Fuller, Hitchcock, Maté, Fred Zinnemann, Robert Siodmak, Jules Dassin, Jacques Tourneur—fancy _noirs, but modest amusements aware of their humble condition. If you do not like them ,which is fine, do not insult them. They can please sufficiently, if not exceedingly.
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The mystery is "when"!
benbrae7616 May 2009
This movie is rather an anomaly. Made after WWII in 1946, but when was the action set? The transport is of the 1930's, especially the "General" London omnibus. As I said in the Goofs section, one of the scenes depicts a "General" omnibus carrying passengers on a normal route, but the "London General Omnibus Company" went out of service in 1933. Yet the ladies fashions depicted in the movie are of the 1940's.

As another viewer remarked (also in the "Goofs" section)...

"Watson refers to the events in his story 'A Scandal in Bohemia' taking place two years earlier. In the story Bohemia was a independent kingdom, but in 1943 it was obviously part of Hitler's Third Reich."

...but of course the original story by Conan Doyle was written and set before WWI.

So exactly in which period was this movie intended to be set? Although there is no mention of either WWI or WWII, I suspect it's supposed to be set in the 1930's, and before Holmes' wartime (WWII) exploits. But who knows?

The movie is nowhere near as good as others in this Rathbone/Bruce series of movies. However it has its amusing moments, but the only one to come out of it with any real credit is Patricia Morison, and there's very little else to shout about.
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Sherlock Holmes meets his mate?
errol190910 March 2007
This was the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies swan song. It's another excellent adventure in this great Holmes series that featured 14 films in all. After the excellent murder mystery on a train in the previous adventure Terror By Night, our hero's are back where they belong. In London on 221 B Baker Street solving complicated crimes against another assortment of cleaver criminals. This time Holmes and Watson, well actually Holmes with a little help from the blunder Watson, look into cheap music boxes that people are getting killed for that contain some secret code from the tune that plays in the box. The whole plot of figuring out what the tune is trying to say and the criminals engaging in a cat and mouse chase with Holmes for the boxes is deliciously cleaver and a pure Holmes mystery. The biggest surprise in this films though, is Patricia Morrison's role as Hilda Courtney. Her role is excellently written and she is a female Sherlock Holmes who is as cleaver and cunning. She dons disguises, to fool people, just like Holmes, and even fools him. She toys with people, flirts with them, and sees every detail just like Holmes. She even uses a cigarette bud as a way to lure Holmes into a trap. The master himself also falls for it. She's just too damn cleaver. Even Holmes throughout the film, complements her on her skills of cleverness and see's her more than a worthy adversary. If Holmes was attracted to woman sexually, such as that you don't see in the movies or stories, Hilda Courtney would of made a perfect mate for Holmes. She's also a very attractive woman who deceives people with her looks. She also makes a fool out of Watson. But then again who doesn't. I thought this was an excellent film and a nice, but sad way to go out in style. These Sherlock Holmes films are too good, and I wish they made more with Rathbone/Bruce. Don't miss this film, you won't be disappointed. *** out of ****
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"Not an accident my dear fellow, I'm afraid it's murder." Fine Holmes mystery.
Paul Andrews7 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Dressed to Kill, also known under the better & more appropriate title Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Code, starts in Dartmoor prison as inmate John Davidson puts the finishing touches to a handmade music box. Jump to Gaylord Art Gallery where three plain wooden music boxes are put up for auction & fetch very little money from three separate bidders. After the auction the gallery's owner Ebenezer Crabtree (Herbert Holmes) is paid a visit by a Colonel Cavanaugh (Frederick Warlock) who shows a great deal of interest in the three music boxes, when he is told that they have been sold Cavanaugh pays Crabtree to let him know who brought them. An old friend of Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) named Julian Emery (Edmund Breon) pays him & Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) a visit & tells a tale of how he was knocked out & a seemingly worthless music box stolen from his house, Holmes becomes intrigued why a thief would leave valuable possessions & steal a wooden music box. Later that night Emery is murdered for another music box, the music box he brought from the auction. Holmes believes that the owners of the other music boxes are also in danger & that these boxes are some sort of coded message...

Produced & directed by Roy William Neill this was the last of fourteen Holmes films made between 1939 & 1946 to star the duo of Rathbone & Bruce as Holmes & Watson. The script by Leonard Lee based on the novel 'The Adventure of the Six Napoleons' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a good solid mystery that focuses on the finding of plates to print money rather than focus on the murder aspect. It moves along at a nice pace, is never boring & is engaging but it tends to lose credibility as it goes on. Why, for instance, go through all this trouble to relay a simple message? Why not just visit Davidson in Dartmoor prison & let him tell you verbally where the plates are? Why not send the message in one go? Colonel Cavanaugh states that he received a message about the music boxes too late to buy them in the auction so there are obviously less complicated ways to communicate with each other. I just don't buy the fact that they need to go through all this trouble to relay one simple location, I really don't. The climax is very rushed & abrupt as well. Having said that it makes for good entertainment, is a good way to pass 70 minutes & has a few nice twists, turns & doubles crosses.

Director Neill was a old hand at these Holmes mysteries by the time Dressed to Kill was made & the film is well made but probably won't impress too many people these days. The usual horror overtones are almost completely absent, apart from Hamid (Harry Cording) the knife throwing killer there really isn't much here. For some reason he lets the viewer know who the villains are straight away so the mystery element is also severely compromised.

Technically Dressed to Kill is well made with nice black and white photography, good production values & suitably ambient sets. The acting is good although you can see that Rathbone was beginning to get bored, apparently four more Holmes films were in production but he said he was 'immensely tired' of playing Holmes & they were never made, obviously. Bruce as Watson plays it for laughs again, Patricia Morison as the main villain Hilda Courtney does well.

Dressed to Kill isn't the best of these Holmes mysteries but it's far from the worst. I liked it, but then I like all of the ones I've seen. I definitely think it's well worth watching especially for mystery & Holmes fans alike.
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Decent Sherlock Holmes movie
kwyjibo500010 August 2002
This was a pretty good showing for the piped one. Nothing spectacular but it'll keep you awake at 5 am. Three ordinary music boxes are sold at an auction and soon after the new owners are dropping like flies. No one really knows what's going on except you know who. Coulda been better but no real complaints.
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An Uncanny Musical Ear
bkoganbing29 November 2008
The final film of the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes stories ends the series on a high note. Holmes is battling a most ruthless foe in skirts in Dressed To Kill.

That foe is Patricia Morison two years away from her career role on stage as Lilly Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate. Dressed To Kill is not a whodunit, we know that she and her cohorts do at least two murders to achieve their objective. They nearly do in Holmes as well. The question is will Holmes and Scotland Yard get to the objective before the bad guys do.

Holmes and Watson get innocently involved enough when an old friend of Watson's reports an unusual crime to them. Edmund Breon is a collector of music boxes and a rather cheap ordinary one is taken from him, one that looks like something he recently purchased. Later on he's killed and the box they wanted stolen, but not until after Holmes as memorized the tune.

Among Sherlock Holmes's avocations is playing the violin and among his other gifts is an uncanny musical ear. That is of enormous importance in solving this case and why Patricia Morison and her henchmen are after the boxes.

I'm glad Holmes and Watson after World War II ended got back to just doing their crime thing. I always thought they were misused as propaganda symbols. Rathbone and Bruce go out on a high note in this series in Dressed To Kill.
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Passable Holmes drama but not that good
bob the moo21 February 2003
When Watson is visited by an old school friend, `Stinky', he is told of how the friend's house was broken into and only an old music box stolen and the rest of his valuable collection left untouched. Holmes is intrigued but thinks no more of it until Stinky is murdered and another identical music box stolen. Holmes traces the music box back to one of three made by a prisoner in Dartmouth prison. Assuming that the music boxes are carrying some message, Holmes races to stop the gang from killing any more people in their quest for the boxes.

I have seen many of the original Holmes films and enjoy the formula and the style of many of them. However this one is a little below the average for the series but was still enjoyable nonetheless. The plot is a little thin and suffers for it, it takes too long to really get going with Holmes not coming into it strongly until 20 minutes in. The actual plot is a little iffy as it is simply VERY unlikely and doesn't really grip at any point. It even lacks the usual humour that is laced within it. It is still enjoyable but it is below the standard set by the series as a whole.

Rathbone is on good form but the trail of logic that Holmes must follow is clearly a series of big jumps rather than small logical steps and he can't quite manage to carry it off. Bruce is as good as ever and is comical, the only downside being that he plays he as a buffoon of sorts rather than anything approaching Holmes' equal. The `baddies' are very much of the `rent a master villain' variety and don't stick in the mind, likewise the police officers are without any of their own characters worth mentioning. However Rathbone and Bruce are the focus and do pretty well.

Overall this won't win any new fans over but it may please fans of the series. However even those who are fans may be a little disappointed here.
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Their final Sherlock film is just as grand
lagudafuad3 January 2013
Dressed to kill is the final and fourteenth film in the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes film series. The movie is based on the Characters of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and although the plot is an original screenplay the movie features references to Conan Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia".

The movie plot is quite interesting, as everything is based on a few musical notes that are out of place in a song, the music itself is a message, what the message is or what it is meant for is what our duo has to figure out.

The plot is about three cheap musical boxes (each one playing a subtly different version of "The Swagman" and only one keen in hearing and with musical background can pick it up), the musical boxes were manufactured in Dartmoor Prison by one of its inmates and they were sold at a local auction house.

The criminal gang meant to get the boxes, got to the auction a little late and all the boxes were sold to different owners, but the gang were however bent to recover the boxes by any means necessary, even if it means committing murder.

Sherlock Holmes is called on board when a murder occurs and a musical box seems to be the target, so he has to try and recover the last of the musical box and crack the secret code contained in the tune before the gang can.

Food for thought, in the movies Dr. Watson is portrayed to be much older than Holmes, and he does look it, as Nigel looks like he is 10 years Rathbone senior, but in real life Rathbone is 3 years older than Bruce, Bruce just looks older. Much talk had been around about the portrayal of Watson in this series, as he is portrayed as a bumbling fellow, who is just around and really doesn't add to Sherlock's detecting ability. While in the book and in subsequent remakes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's characters, Watson is portrayed as an upright fellow, who is a necessary addition to Holmes detective ability.

Dressed to kill is a good movie to see, as it shows our protagonist in a light of being one step ahead of the rest, we see him pick pocket with ease and escape death with the ingenuity of a fox. The movie is a nice ending to a beautiful pair and a wonderful film series.

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