For Reel

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942)
September 5, 2016, 12:33 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Roy William Neill
3 Stars
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret WeaponUniversal’s Sherlock Holmes series would transplant the famed detective into a contemporary setting, often involving espionage plots that pit him against the dastardly Axis sympathizers. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon is the second of a series that would last another ten films (all directed by Roy William Neill), and it finely incorporates the studio’s Gothic aesthetic into the spy plot—dimly lit streets and secret passages are the meeting grounds for Holmes and adversary Moriarty (Lionel Atwill). Alongside Nigel Bruce (consistently the best thing about the Holmes films), Atwill saves the material with his reptilian performance. After being introduced halfway through the picture, he and Holmes engage in the expected battle of wits, each trying to outdo the other and being none-too-surprised when their adversary has seen through their plot. The mystery itself is lacking, but for the Holmes-Moriarty feud alone, it plays as a prototypical Holmes outing, reveling in both the character relationships and a Gothic aesthetic that often resembles the noirs of the period.