Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)

Genres - Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film  |   Release Date - Sep 18, 1942 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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From the first frame of its opening credits, Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror promises (and subsequently delivers) mystery and thrills several layers deep -- following a short prologue intended to introduce Holmes to contemporary England (circa 1942), there is a series of terror broadcasts from Germany, announcing destruction throughout the British isles, and a montage of explosions and other disasters causing havoc. Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) are called in by Sir Evan Barham (Reginald Denny) of British intelligence's Inner Council to investigate the Voice of Terror and the accompanying sabotage. The other members of the council are disdainful of Holmes' presence, and express heightening doubts as his investigation seems to take him up several blind alleys. The case starts to break when a dying informant gives Holmes a tip that takes him and Watson to London's seedy Limehouse district, where they get a hostile reception until Kitty (Evelyn Ankers), the widow of the murdered informant, makes a patriotic speech reminding her friends that regardless of their class or their feelings about British society, this is a war for the survival of England. With Kitty leading them, the men and women of Limehouse form an invisible army and go out in search of the saboteurs. Holmes determines that the Voice of Terror is recorded on phonograph records in England and flown to Germany for broadcast; with Kitty's help, he traces the saboteurs to a deserted dockside location where he and Watson, along with intelligence chief Mr. Lloyd (Henry Daniell), are nearly killed by Meade (Thomas Gomez), the leader of the saboteurs. Holmes and company are rescued at the last moment by Kitty's army, but Meade escapes. He crosses paths with Kitty, who pretends to be a thief on the run and joins him. Working her way into his trust, she finds evidence that Meade plans to kill Sir Evan Barham; Holmes arrives just minutes behind Meade and heads off an attempt by a German plane to land on Barham's remote estate. All of these incidents of sabotage and attempted assassination are serious enough, but Holmes suspects they're part of a larger, more sinister plot that could lead to the destruction of England. The film ends with a chase to the South Coast and a bombed-out church, where Meade and his men are preparing to take over the country. Holmes captures Meade and unmasks the man behind him, and reveals just how far ahead of the Germans he has been, turning their certain victory into defeat, but he loses a good friend and ally in the process.

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Keywords

church, investigation, mistress, Nazi, private-detective, radio-broadcaster, sabotage, war