Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
Roy William Neill for Universal
directed by Roy William Neill
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Arthur Margetson, Hillary Brooke, Halliwell Hobbes, Minna Phillips, Milburn Stone, Gavin Muir, Gerald Hamer, Vernon Downing, Olaf Hytten, Frederick Worlock, Mary Gordon, Joan Blair, Norma Varden, Heather Wilde
screenplay by Bertram Millhauser, based on a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Frank Skinner
Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Universal's Sherlock Holmes
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Musgrove Hall is a home for reconvalescent soldiers where Doctor Watson
(Nigel Bruce) is doing his wartime duty. When both the owner of the
mansion (Frederick Worlock) and his younger brother (Gavin Muir) are
murdered, Watson calls his friend Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) for
assistance though, especially since inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) is
quick to jump to conclusions and arrests one of the soldiers in care,
Vickery (Milburn Stone), pretty much on the spot, just because he's the
boyfriend of the mansion's heiress Sally (Hillary Brooke).
finds out that the whole murder mystery has something to do with the
mystery of Musgrove Hall itself, the solution of which can be found in an
incantation read at every funeral of a Musgrove, an incantation that
doesn't seem to make too much sense - until Holmes finds out the
incantation is actually a game of chess that, if played on the tiles of
Musgrove Hall's hall, leads to the secret of the Musgroves.
Holmes and company find a basement deep down below Musgrove Hall's hall,
where Holmes discovers an old document that would grant the Musgroves
pretty much all of the county, a document nobody has known about for
centuries, but Holmes also discovers the dead body of Musgrove Hall's
missing butler (Halliwell Hobbes), who was obviously killed. Holmes claims
though that with his dying breath, the butler has written the name of his
killer on the floor in blood, but he needs proper equipment to read the
killer's name, which he is going to fetch the next day.
though, a dark figure sneaks down into the basement, to wipe out the name
written in blood ... to find out that it was only a trap set up by Holmes,
who has risked his own life being on the look-out for the killer in
the cellar and making him confess once he has shown up. The killer by the
way was Doctor Sexton (Arthur Margetson), Watson's young colleague in
Musgrove Manor, who has found out about the secret of Musgrove Hall
(including the fact that the Musgroves have a claim on the whole county)
and has murdered the two Musgrove brothers to make Sally heiress, and then
he planned to marry her.
Sally, upon learning that the county is legally
hers, orders the document to be burned, because she feels that taking the
land from those who have cultivated it and called it their own for
generations would be theft, even if the law was on her side.
murder mystery with old-dark-house elements that is very well-played and
features a good build-up - but has a solution that is so over-constructed
it lacks believability. However, if you like the Sherlock Holmes-films
with Basil Rathbone, you will probably somehow like this one anyways.