SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGTON (director: Roy William Neill; screenwriters: Lynn Riggs/Bertram Millhauser/story by Bertram Millhauser/characters by Arthur Conan Doyle; cinematographer: Les White; editor: Otto Ludwig; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Doctor Watson), Marjorie Lord (Nancy Partridge), Henry Daniell (William Easter), George Zucco (Richard Stanley), John Archer (Lt. Pete Merriam), Gavin Muir (Mr. Lang – government agent), Edmund MacDonald (Detective Lt. Grogan), Don Terry (Howe), Bradley Page (Cady), Holmes Herbert (Mr. Ahrens), Thurston Hall (Senator Henry Babcock), Gerald Hamer (John Grayson/Alfred Pettibone), Mary Forbes (Mother of Alfred Pettibone), Gilbert Emery (Sir Henry Marchmont), Alice Fleming (Mrs. Jellison), Margaret Seddon (Miss Pringle, mouse lady on train), Clarence Muse (George, the club car porter), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson), Regina Wallace (Mrs. Partridge, Nancy’s aunt); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Roy William Neill; Universal; 1943)
“Even though it’s far from believable, it’s still one of the most enjoyable in the series.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sherlock Holmes in Washington was the fifth of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes films that starred Basil Rathbone as the famous detective. Director Roy William Neill (“The Black Room”/”Black Angel”/”Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man”), who directed eleven films in the series, keeps things lively with his brisk direction of the modernized thriller. This is a solid spy caper considering it’s also a propaganda film. Even though it’s far from believable, it’s still one of the most enjoyable in the series.
It’s based on a story by Bertram Millhauser and is written by Lynn Riggs.
The British Home Office assigns Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) to go to Washington D.C. and make sure a vital missing war document doesn’t wind up in the hands of Nazis. A British agent tried to bring the two-page document from London to Washington D.C., but the evil Axis spy ring, headed by a former German agent and now an antique dealer in the capital named Richard Stanley (George Zucco), got wise to him and had henchman William Easter (Henry Daniell) and his crew abduct the agent, a man named Pettibone posing as a lawyer named Grayson (Gerald Hamer), aboard a New York to Washington train and after torturing him they kill him without finding the document. The clever agent hid the document in microfilm in a matchbook and passed it on to one of the following unwitting passengers-the self-satisfied boastful Senator Babcock (Thurston Hall), the meek mouse woman Mrs. Pringle (Margaret Seddon), the loudmouth Mrs. Jellison (Alice Fleming) or the beautiful soon-to-be-married society lady Nancy Partridge (Marjorie Lord). We know it was Nancy, but neither do Holmes nor the spy ring know this. Though in the third act the spy ring kidnap Nancy, as Holmes is helped in the rescue by Washington Detective Lt. Grogan (Edmund MacDonald).
Besides a moderately thrilling spy story we get a nice tour of Washington’s famous monuments and of the White House, and also get a stirring patriotic quote from Churchill about how England and America share a common belief in democracy.
REVIEWED ON 12/30/2009 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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