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The Spider Woman
Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman

USA 1944
produced by
Roy William Neill for Universal
directed by Roy William Neill
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gale Sondergaard, Dennis Hoey, Vernon Downing, Alec Craig, Arthur Hohl, Mary Gordon, Lydia Bilbrook, Angelo Rossitto, Harry Cording, Teddy Infuhr, Stanley Logan, Gene Roth, Donald Stuart, Frank Benson, Sylvia Andrew, Marie De Becker, John Burton, Jimmy Aubrey, George Kirby, Belle Mitchell, John Roche, Arthur Stenning
screenplay by Bertram Millhauser, based on a story by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Hans J. Salter

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Universal's Sherlock Holmes

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Several well-to-do citizens of London commit weird suicides, jumping out of windows in their pyjamas, and even though all of them had been alone in their rooms when they did it, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) suspects murder, argues the very cruelty of the crimes suggests a woman as killer, fakes his own death and emerges as an Indian prince, who soon makes the acquaintance of Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard) at the gambling table (the one linking element between all the suicides), has her persuade him to have his life insured ... and this very night, Holmes finds a poisonous spider in his room which is supposed to kill him, but he manages to turn the tables ...

The next day, Ms Spedding pays Holmes (as Holmes, not as Indian prince) a friendly visit, leaving him on no uncertain terms that she has looked through his little masquerade all along.

With painstaking attention to detail, Holmes and his companion Watson (NIgel Bruce) collect evidence against Ms Spedding, but for the most part, she remains elusive - unbtil Holmes figures she must have a pigmy (Angelo Rossitto) acting as her helper, and where better to hide a pigmy than at a carneval. Holmes and Watson manage to track down Ms Spedding to a shooting gallery, but she manages to seperate them and make Holmes a target at the shooting gallery while she has chosen Watson, who doesn't know what (or who) he's shooting at but who's a brilliant marksman, to be Holmes' executioner. Of course, in the end Holmes manages to get away and lure Ms Spedding into a trap he and his friend inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) have set up ...


Entertaining little flick. Sure, most of the plottwists as well as Holmes's deductions are incredibly far-fetched, and I would even go so far as to call them silly, but things are at least moving at a steady pace, Rathbone's Holmes is spot-on, and Gale Sondergaard makes a worthy opponent. One of the better films of the series, that's for sure.


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