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Sherlock Holmes' (Basil Rathbone) arch-nemesis Moriarty (George Zucco)
wants to get rid of the master sleuth once and for all, so he provides him
with two clues, one leads to the Tower of London, where a priceless
emerald, the Star of Delhi, is expected, the other to an announced
murder. Moriarty figures that Holmes is just a child for whom criminal
cases are mere toys, and whenever he receives a new one, he forgets the
one he had just played with. And indeed, when Holmes learns about the
murder case, he forgets all about the Star of Delhi, leaving this case to
his partner-in-crime(solving), Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce), especially
when he learns Moriarty might be involved in the announced murder, too.
But while Holmes is still out making heads or tails of the murder case
with Ann Brandon (Ida Lupino), her brother (Peter Willes) is indeed
murdered, and everything points to the family lawyer and Ann's boyfriend
Jerrold Hunter (Alan Marshall), whom Holmes keeps from being arrested only
with the greatest of effort.
Soon, Anne receives a letter she will be
the next murder victim, just when the Star of Delhi is delivered to the
Tower. Holmes of course prefers to play Anne's bodyguard (even though he
almost botches up this assignment as well) to guarding the emerald, and of
course, Moriarty and his men try to steal it ... but then lose it during
Having just saved Anne from one of Moriarty's henchmen,
Holmes learns about the botched up Tower raid ... and figures Moriarty
hasn't been after the emerald at all, but after something much bigger, the
entire crown jewels, and he is about to achieve his goal by having been
locked in with the jewels after the phony raid - but Holmes manages to
save the jewels (and the days, and his own reputation) just in time, and
Moriarty only manages to save himself from arrest by jumping out of one of
the Tower's windows - to his death, supposedly.
Not without its
old-fashioned and a tad stagey charm (after all, the film was based on a
play), Adventures of Sherlock Holmes however fails to really
convince, mainly due to its over-constructed plot that's riddled by way
too many plotholes and that shows Sherlock Holmes as a rather ineffective
investigator who picks up way too many clues way too late, loses sight of
the obvious way too often, finds way too many clues by chance rather than
deduction, and actually fails to prevent an announced murder. Now one
might argue that he's only human after all, but actually, no he's not,
he's a fictional character known for his extraordinary deductive
capabilities, and he shows none of those in the film, though they are of
course expected from him, right. Still, the film is not a total failure,
at least Rathbone and Zucco are pretty good as Holmes and Moriarty, but
there have been way better movies about those two characters.