SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VOICE OF TERROR (director: John Rawlins; screenwriters: Robert D. Andrews, Lynn Riggs/John Bright/based on the story “His Last Bow” by Arthur Conan Doyle; cinematographer: Elwood Bredell; editor: Russell Schoengarth; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor Watson), Evelyn Ankers (Kitty), Reginald Denny (Sir Evan Barham), Thomas Gomez (Meade), Henry Daniell (Alfred Lloyd), Montagu Love (Gen. Jerome Lawford), Edgar Barrier (Voice of Terror), Hillary Brooke (Jill Grandis), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson), Gavin Muir (BBC Radio Announcer), Robert Barron (Gavin); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Benedict; Universal; 1942)
“This is the first entry in Universal’s modernized version of the Sherlock Holmes series.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This is the first entry in Universal’s modernized version of the Sherlock Holmes series. It’s loosely based (takes only some plot elements) on the 1917 story “His Last Bow” by Arthur Conan Doyle and is written by Robert D. Andrews, Lynn Riggs and John Bright. Director John Rawlins (“Lost Lagoon”/”Sudan”/”Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome”) in a workmanlike way handles the spy tale and patriotic messages.
The German propaganda radio broadcast of “The Voice of Terror” taunts the people of England with boasts of Nazi superiority and regales in German acts of sabotage (like train wrecks). Sir Evan Barham (Reginald Denny) of the British Intelligence Inner Council, under pressure to stop the radio broadcasts, calls upon private detective Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and his associate, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce), to help in this emergency. Holmes, in turn, calls upon the help of the underworld to show their loyalty to the country and help nab the saboteurs, causing a series of tragic disasters, as he believes the German broadcasts of sabotage are merely a “smoke-screen” for something bigger (like the destruction of England).
Holmes recruits Kitty (Evelyn Ankers), the girlfriend of the criminal Gavin who died at the hands of a German knife wielder while trying to help his country. Using a tip from Kitty, Holmes, Watson and intense council member Sir Anthony Lloyd (Henry Daniell) go to the abandoned Christopher Docks, where the Axis group meets. But the Nazi spies, led by a resolute man named Meade (Thomas Gomez, his film debut), capture them only to have the underworld friends of Kitty come to their rescue. Holmes allows Meade to escape so he can find out which member of the council is leaking info to the Nazis.
Though the routine mystery story is not overly impressive, it was enjoyable.
REVIEWED ON 1/1/2009 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ