Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sherlock Sunday:
Holmes vs. Nazi Spies in America

Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)
Starring: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Marjorie Lord, Henry Daniell and George Zucco
Director: Roy William Neill
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

When a British secret agent vanishes while on a mission to Washington, D.C., the British government sends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Rathbone and Bruce) to the United States to uncover what happened to him and to learn if valuable secrets have fallen into the hands of the Nazis.

"Sherlock Holmes in Washington" is the final and best of the Universal "Holmes vs. the Nazis" trilogy of films. It features a well-crafted and suspenseful plot that takes full advantage both of Holmes' legendary deductive powers as well as the modern (early 1940s) setting, with the mystery revolving around missing documents that unbeknownst to heroes and villains alike have been duplicated on microfilm and hidden inside a matchbook that is then passed from character to character and almost lost for good on more than one occassion. The fact that the audience knows exactly where the documents everyone is looking for adds greatly to the suspense (and fun) of the film as it unfolds.

In addition to its expertly constructed plot, the film also features well-written dialogue that is delivered by a cast that are all at the top of their game. Rathbone's Holmes is the best I've ever seen itm Bruce's Watson is comedic but not annoyingly dimwitted, and Daniell and Zucco are excellent as the Nazi secret agents. From the film's opening scenes to the closing anti-fascism remarks from Holmes, this is a film that provides top-notch and classy entertainment. It's a move that fans of Sherlock Holmes and classic crime dramas will enjoy equally. (Heck, even if you're some sort of misguided moron who admires Nazis, you'll enjoy this flick. The ones in this story are smarter than the average bunch, be they fictional or real.)


  1. It is. Although I just noticed that if the Nazi spy pulls the trigger on that gun, Holmes won't be passing his genes onto another generation!