Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1946. Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Frank Gruber, adapted from a story by Arthur Conan Doyle. Cinematography by Maury Gertsman. Produced by Roy William Neill. Production Design by John B. Goodman, Abraham Grossman. Costume Design by Vera West. Film Editing by Saul A. Goodkind.
One of a number of films that Basil Rathbone filmed as the great Sherlock Holmes, and another example of how poorly the character suits the 1940s setting; adapting Holmes to World War II in a plot that is a pale rehash of The Lady Vanishes ends up feeling like he is starring in a bad Agatha Christie mystery, as if he wasn’t already the star of perfectly good plots of his own. It all surrounds the theft of an extremely valuable jewel that Holmes and Watson have been hired to protect, which then necessitates solving the murder of the jewel owner’s son in the stealing of the gem. The wonderfully astute detective observes all the passengers on the train one by one, narrowing down the possible culprits based on the clues he finds, but this short 60-minute cheapie does a poor job of indulging us in the juicy details or really letting them pay off. It’s a shame given how ideal Rathbone is in the lead.