Friday, June 3, 2011

Terror By Night - Sherlock Holmes Movie

I picked up this DVD in one of my random picks because Sherlock Holmes is always an intriguing character. But I had no clue that the movie was of 1946 vintage, in black and white. Interestingly it is a story that is based on two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's series of Holmes stories - 'The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax' and 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle'.

The story begins with a young lady instructing a coffin maker in London to get a coffin prepared to her specifications so she could take her dead mother's body to Scotland in the evening train. On the train are Lady Margaret and her son Roland, the owners of the infamous diamond - 'the Star of Rhodesia' - which is reputed to bring death to whoever owns it.  Roland hires Holmes to protect the diamond which they are carrying with them. Dr. Watson arrives on the train with his friend Duncan Bleeks, someone he knows from his club. Inspector Lestrade from Scotland Yard completes the main cast. A motley bunch of passengers is also introduced.

Roland, the son is killed by a poisoned dart in his cabin (he looked like the first to go anyway) while the rest of the passengers are dining, including his mother. The Star is missing of course. Holmes and Lestrade start questioning the passengers and Holmes wishes to examine the coffin but he is disturbed by Watson who discovers a couple of petty thieves who confess even before he asks - to stealing a tea pot from a hotel as a souveneir! In the confusion Holmes finds that he is attacked and almost thrown off the train. Holmes survives, finds that the coffin has a secret compartment to smuggle a person on the train, questions the lady whose coffin it is and arrives at the conclusion that it is the work of Colonel Sebastian Moran, a close confidante of Professor Moriarty. Holmes also reveals that the real diamond is safe with him and what was stolen was only a glass imitation. Lestrade takes possession of the Star. Meanwhile another guard is attacked and so is Lestrade, and the Star is stolen from Lestrade. When Holmes finds Lestrade, he finds the body of Sands, a petty thief alongside and concludes that it is Moran's work indeed. I could not figure out how Moran could be linked to the crime other than the fact that Holmes knows that he is a mathematician and a jewel thief!

Holmes has Duncan Bleeks, Watson's friend brought in for questioning and while they are at it, the Scotland police enter the train and capture the Star and Duncan Bleeks (who is held captive with a sack over his head) with a little help from Holmes who gets into a scuffle in the dark. As the train leaves the station Holmes reveals to Watson that Colonel Moran is indeed Duncan Bleeks. The man is on the floor handcuffed. Holmes also reveals the Star which is in his pocket. It so transpires that the policemen from Scotland are actually Moran's men and hence Holmes switches Moran with Lestrade under the sack, steals back the Star and all is well. Moran does not look too sharp as an expert mathematician and a renowned jewel thief and is more like a regular dacoit, killing and slugging people all over.

As any detective movie and that too with Holmes and Watson and Lestrade, the movie is entertaining. Not much in terms of how Holmes figures out the mystery but it is alright. The switch in the end is interesting but Shobha guessed as much even before Holmes reveals the plot. Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson are perfect for the cast just as Dennis Hoey is for Lestrade. A 2.5 on 5 for this movie.


Rajendra said...

I think Basil Rathbone's Holmes is a good one. DD used to telecast Holmes regularly in the 80's and I watched quite a few. Don't remember this title though.

Harimohan said...

It's an ok movie. Actually Watson has several funny dialogues and its almost as if he is the star. Rathborne has precious little to unveil. But as with any Holmes stories certainly keeps you engrossed.