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Sherlock Holmes Faces Death

USA 1943
produced by
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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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).

Holmes soon 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.

Ultimately, 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.

That night 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.


So-so 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.


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