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Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

USA 1943
produced by
Roy William Neill for Universal
directed by Roy William Neill
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill, Kaaren Verne, William Post jr, Dennis Hoey, Holmes Herbert, Mary Gordon, Harold De Becker, Harry Cording, Henry Victor, Harry Woods
written by Edward T. Lowe, Scott Darling, Edmund L.Hartmann, somehow based on The Dancing Men by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Universal's Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes in World War II, Moriarty, American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 contractees.

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.


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
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD