Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA, 1942. Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe Jr., Scott Darling, Edmund L. Hartmann, adaptation by Scott Darling, Edward T. Lowe Jr., based on the story The Dancing Men by Arthur Conan Doyle. Cinematography by Lester White. Produced by Howard Benedict. Music by Frank Skinner. Production Design by Jack Otterson. Costume Design by Vera West. Film Editing by Otto Ludwig.
Basil Rathbone is as good a choice as can be expected to play Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal hero, but modernizing the story to take place in World War II England falls completely flat in this adaptation of The Dancing Men. After a Swiss scientist invents a bomb that will be essential to the winning of the war, he is escorted safely to England by Holmes and his associate Dr. Watson and away from the Gestapo, but not for long. When the scientist goes missing and leaves behind a coded message, it becomes a race against time to decipher it and prevent the Nazis from taking over all of Europe. Fun idea for a wartime adventure, but why on earth would a private investigator be involved in this kind of venture? It’s an ill-fit for the character, and not helped by the fact that the writing is paltry (the plot just rips off Night Train To Munich to begin with) and the pacing super dull even for a film that runs a short 67 minutes.