“Moriarty’s as curious about my movements as I am about his.”
The arch-enemy (George Zucco) of Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) plots to steal the Crown Jewels, hoping to distract Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce), by enticing them with a case involving a distressed heiress (Ida Lupino).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Basil Rathbone Films
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Historical Drama
- Ida Lupino Films
- Murder Mystery
- Sherlock Holmes Films
The second of two Sherlock Holmes films made with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce for Fox Studios (and the last to feature them in an “authentically” Victorian-era setting), this finely mounted whodunit was, like the 1932 film Sherlock Holmes, based (albeit loosely) on a stage play by William Gillette rather than an original story by Doyle. It’s an enjoyable, atmospheric outing:
… made all the more interesting by the introduction of Holmes’ sociopathic “arch-enemy”, Moriarty (Zucco):
… who — recognizing Holmes’ desire to alleviate boredom above all else — plays fast and furious with people’s lives by perpetuating a serial murder scheme simply to keep Holmes distracted. It’s a remarkably dastardly thematic element, and definitely adds an intriguing twist to the entire affair.
Note: If you’re at all a Holmes fan, be sure to compare this film with the sixth entry in the modern British mini-series Sherlock, which features a somewhat similar storyline about Moriarty and Holmes’ ongoing “rivalry”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
- Atmospheric cinematography
No, but it’s certainly recommended as a most enjoyable Sherlockian yarn.