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Switzerland, time of World War II: Nazi spies want to get their hands on Dr
Tobel (William Post jr), who has just developed a revolutinary bombsight &
wants to sell his invention to the Allies. But while the Nazis still try to get
to Tobel, Sherlock Holmes has long taken control of the situation & flies
him out to England from right under their noses.
In England though, Tobel proves reluctant to just hand the bombsight over to
the government, represented by Sir Reginald (Holmes Herbert), instead he claims
to take construction in his own hands, & he contracts 4 scientists to each
produce one part of the bombsight, which will not be functional unles all four
parts are pieced together. But he must have known, the Nazis are not likely to
give up that easily on getting his invention, as he has placed a secret message
for Holmes, written in a code substituting letters for dancing men at his
girlfriend Charlotte's (Kaaren Verne) appartment, containing the names of his 4
It's a damn good thing, too, since very soon, Topel is abducted by none
other than Moriarty (Lionel Atwill), who also gets his hands on the message.
Holmes however is no slouch either & can reproduce the message from the
imprints of the notepad it was written on, & a race for the scientists
& their parts of the bombsight develops ... a race which Holmes seems to
lose, as 3 of the 4 men can only be found dead ... but for the 4th man, Hoffner
(Henry Victor), Tobel has used a different code which both Holmes &
Moriarty have difficulties to decipher - with Holmes finally winning out over
his nemesis, & when Moriarty's henchmen come to abduct Hoffner (for some
reason, they all of a sudden have switched from killing to kidnapping), Holmes
has long assumed Hoffner's identity, & not only is he led to Moriarty's
secret hideout, he has also attached a device to the car taking him there that
will give his associate Watson (Nigel Bruce) & the police led by inspector
Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) a pretty good clue of where the hideout is ...
Soon the police arrive too to free Holmes & bust Moriarty's operation,
only Moriarty escapes.
But Holmes of course has long found Moriarty's little escape route, &
has conveniently opened a trap door which Moriarty planned to use to shake his
pursuers - but now he falls through the trap door himself.
The Death of Moriarty !?
I think not.
After Holmes' feat is accomplished, the bombing of Germany can begin ...
The second of the Basil Rathbone-Sherlock Holmes movies
produced by Universal (after 2 produced by 20th Century Fox), and
the second of three World War II propaganda-films starring the supersleuth (the
first was Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror in 1942, and also in 1943
Sherlock Holmes in Washington would follow). & since this is
simplistic propaganda, the messages (all Nazis are evil and Victory
through Air Power) are rather obvious, with lengthy demonstrations of
bomber jets in action interspersed into Holmes' deduction & detection work,
elements that are, quite obviously rather at odds with one another. The movie's
main detective story though can be called routine at best (though I'd prefer
"a little dull"), so the war-footage might be the funniest thing
about it, if purely for its anachronistic value.