While owing only the slightest allegiance to actual Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman is a thoroughly enjoyable entry in the long-running detective series from Universal. Yes, as if too often the case with the series, there are a number of places where the viewer -- especially longtime Holmes aficionados -- may cry, "Oh, come now, Holmes is smarter than that!" (In this film, this is especially true of the candy wrapper incident, although the sequence up until that point has been handled with great skill.) But the need to "dumb" Holmes down slightly in order to fulfill the dictates of plot is handled much better in Spider Woman than in some of the other films. The majority of Spider Woman's screenplay is fast and clever, and the climactic shooting gallery sequence is a doozy. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are once again in very fine form, with the chemistry between the two especially cozy and lovable. Even better, Spider Woman boasts a wonderfully entertaining turn from Gale Sondergaard, who almost always knew how to make evil dangerously alluring and attractive. Roy William Neill directs with his customary efficiency, finding time as usual for a surprising number of shots that show flair and invention. All in all, Spider Woman is crackling good fun in a mystery thriller vein.