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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

USA 1939
produced by
Darryl F.Zanuck for 20th Century Fox
directed by Alfred L.Werker
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, George Zucco, Ida Lupino, Alan Marshal, Henry Stephenson, E.E. Clive, Arthur Hohl, May Beatty, Terry Kilburn, Peter Willes, Mary Gordon, Holmes Herbert, George Regas, Mary Forbes, Frank Dawson, William Austin, Anthony Kemble-Cooper
screenplay by Edwin Blum, William A.Drake, based on the play Sherlock Holmes by William Gillette and characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, musical director: Cyril J.Mockridge

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Sherlock Holmes at 20th Century Fox, Moriarty

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 the getaway.

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.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD