Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
directed by John Rawlins
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, Reginald Denny, Thomas Gomez, Henry Daniell, Montagu Love, Olaf Hytten, Leyland Hodgson, Robert Barron, Mary Gordon, Hillary Brooke, Rudolph Anders, Edgar Barrier, Harry Cording, Leslie Denison, Herbert Evans, Fred Graham, John Wilde
screenplay by Lynn Briggs, John Bright, based on the story His Last Blow by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Frank Skinner
Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Universal's Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes in World War II, Moriarty, American World War II Propaganda
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Great Britain, 1942: The country is threatened by the Nazis, who not
only attack via air raids, no they also seem to have agents all over the
whole country to engage in terrorist activity, and as if to mock, the
exploits of these German agents is announced on radio via the voice of
terror. The British War Council is baffled and helpless, so Sherlock
Holmes (Basil Rathbone) is called in to investigate by councilmember Sir
Byron (Reginald Denny) - much to the dismay of the others in the council,
who oppose interference by civilians. This means of course that for his
investigations, Holmes pretty much has to rely on himself - and his
trusted friend Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce) of course. Then though a man
(Robert Barron) is knifed to death on Sherlock's doorstep by the Nazis,
and via that man's wife Kitty (Evelyn Ankers), Sherlock manages to win the
support of the Limehouse lowlives, who now act as his invisible agents.
Eventually, Sherlock manages to track down a German spy called Meade
(Thomas Gomez), but when the police is ready to arrest him, he lets him
escape deliberately, but has Kitty hook up with him.
Holmes pays Sir
Byron a visit at his country home. Nearby they witness a German plane
land, but Lord Byron's patriotic enthusiasm chases it away.
of terror announces the invasion of the Germans in Scotland, and the
War Council wants to move all its troops there - but Holmes learns from
Kitty that Meade is actually planning to move to the South to the Canal.
Somehow Holmes persuades the whole council to come South with him, and
indeed, their they manage to find Meade meeting with other Nazi leaders in
an abandoned church and arrest all of them. Furthermore, Holmes has
somehow managed to overrule the decision of the War Council to move the
whole army North and leave the Canal defenseless, and thus the German
invasion (which was to have happened right then and there and not up
North) is snuffed out before it has even begun.
That leaves one question
open: Who on earth is the spy the Germans must have placed within the War
Why, it's Sir Byron himself of course, he seemed much to
innocent not to be guilty to begin with ...
The first Sherlock
Holmes movie during Basil Rathbone's run as the detective to be
produced by Universal, and the first of Holmes' wartime adventures,
this turns out to be a rather silly murder mystery/espionage movie that's
way too predictable, too simplistic and too blunt for its own good, plus
the character of Sherlock Holmes as such seems to be terribly out of place
in wartime settings - but somehow that's also part of the silly charm of
this film. That said though, don't expect the film to be too charming.