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Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror 1942
Description: England, at the begin of Globe Fight Two. Mysterious wireless broadcasts, apparently from Nazi Germany are heard over the BBC. They warn of acts of terror in England, just before they take place. Baffled, the Defence Committee call in Holmes ...
Released: 18 Sep 1942 Director: John Rawlins Writers: Lynn Riggs (screenplay), John Bright (screenplay), Arthur Conan Doyle (story "His Last Bow"), Robert Hardy Andrews (adaptation) Actors: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, Reginald Denny Genres: Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
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Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Reviews:

Sherlock Holmes strives to destroy the band of Nazi saboteurs whose actions are extolled by THE VOICE OF TERROR.After a hiatus of three years, and a change of studios from Fox to Universal, Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce returned to portray the beloved characters they had embodied twice before on the screen. And there was one another significant change--the stories were actually set during Globe Fight Two and served as morale boosters as well as cinematic entertainment.This leap ahead of nearly 50 years does no violence to Holmes & Watson, although purists might lament the absence of late Victorian ambiance. Indeed, if Shakespeare can be performed in modern dress and become the basis for Broadway musicals, then the inhabitants of 221B Baker Road are served no injustice by this updating. The movie offers this explanation as its preamble: `Sherlock Holmes, the immortal hero of fiction created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is ageless, invincible and unchanging. In solving significant issues of the show day he remains - as ever - the supreme master of deductive reasoning.'Here, in a plot very loosely based on Conan Doyle's short storyline ‘His Last Bow,' Rathbone & Bruce enjoy their roles as comfortably as one might wear an old pair of well-worn slippers. Rathbone, triumphantly cerebral, and Bruce, comfortingly common, are simply excellent for their roles, now seeming to become Holmes & Watson, rather than just enacting them. In the small exchange, where Watson stops Holmes from leaving their flat wearing his famed deerstalker rather than modern headgear, the actors give a wink and a nod to the original conceptions of their celebrated characters.Kindly Reginald Denny and mad Henry Daniell give their usual stalwart performances as high government officials struggling with the Nazi depredations. Evelyn Ankers adds a bit of spice as the Limehouse lassie who has her own motives for supporting Holmes. Thomas Gomez gives a compelling portrayal as a Nazi agent with strange delusions of grandeur.Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited & lovable Mary Gordon as Mrs. Hudson, Holmes landlady, who has also been time transported along with her tenants. That's Edgar Barrier, perfect as the Voice of Terror.This was the third in the Sherlock Holmes movie series, following THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1939), and preceding SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON (1942).


When the sinister Voice of Terror taunts England over the radio with news of acts of sabotage vs the Allies, the Inner Council of British Intelligence has no choice but to turn to England's best detective, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone). Holmes, with support from his criminal underworld connections, investigates and uncovers the real identity of the Voice of Terror.After two fine movies at Fox and a three-year gap, the Sherlock Holmes series films to Universal. The change of studios also brings with it the upgrading of Holmes to the 1940s, where he understandably spends the early entries in the series battling Nazis. This change upsets many purists, who already have issues with the Rathbone series for its portrayal of Watson as comic relief and its deviations from the books. If you're one of those, I doubt anything I can tell will alter your opinion. I don't happen to be bothered by the changes. I now play the films more because of them.As in his two movies at Fox, Rathbone here is the excellent Holmes. One of my favourite scenes from any of his Holmes movies occurs in this one when Holmes and Watson go to a seedy pub frequented by criminals. One of the criminals, a particularly frightening thug Sherlock place away years before, approaches the duo and we're led to trust any second actually he will test to exact some violent revenge on Holmes. I won't spoil how the stage ends but pay attention to the method Rathbone plays this whole scene. It's unbelievable stuff. I would be remiss in doing any type of review for Voice of Terror without mentioning Rathbone's hairstyle. For some reason they decided to give him a rather silly-looking haircut where the hair on the sides is combed forward. It's difficult not to chuckle when you first see it. Thankfully he wears a hat for a lot of the picture.For his part, Nigel Bruce is a nice sidekick. He has less to do here than some of the another films but, as always, he's pleasant and fun to watch. The helping cast is great, with the likes of Henry Daniell, Reginald Denny, and Thomas Gomez giving solid turns. Unique mention goes to Evelyn Ankers, who gives one of her most various performances here. She plays the wife of a criminal killed for supporting Holmes who then agrees to support the detective herself. Not for the sake of law & order but for the love of country. Her greatest stage is when she gives a rousing speech to her fellow criminals and lowlifes, enlisting them to support Holmes and England.This is a solid begin to the Universal Holmes series. Not the greatest but very entertaining nonetheless. Reading some of the older reviews here is a bit stomach-churning. Jeez, you'd think these folks WANTED the Nazis to win! They seem so bitter and mad over the movie being pro-England during Globe Fight II. What's this globe coming to when folks hate patriotism and nationalism so much they gripe about it more than the Nazis? The fact that most of these reviewers identify themselves as being from England or America makes the entire thing doubly sad.


I've read some of the reviews regarding this movie and there seems to be a grave misunderstanding regarding this film.Many list it as the third in the "series" of Sherlock Holmes movies starring Basil Rathbone, but that's quite inaccurate.This movie was not the 3rd in a series, following "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Journey of Sherlock Holmes."The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Journey of Sherlock Holmes were a series aborted by 20th Century Fox because of the begin of WWII.With the begin of WWII, 20th Century Fox decided these films, set in Victorian times, were far too elaborate and expensive to continue during fight times. Thus, the whole series was dropped.After this, Rathbone and Bruce continued doing Sherlock Holmes on the BBC as a series of radio productions. (this included Mary Gordon who everytime played Mrs. Hudson) With the success of the BBC radio serial, Universal pictures in 1942, picked up Rathbone and Bruce to enjoy Holmes and Watson. However, because it was still during WWII, Universal decided to set their Holmes in what was modern times. Universal did this for extremely practical reasons which had nothing to do with artistic "interpretation." This was done as a cost cutting detail as the same sets and helping actors (as any keen eye would notice) were then used in another movies and vice versa. (The another movies usually featuring Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr. or Boris Karloff) Such a cost cutting detail would not have been possible had Universal set the movies in Victorian, London.Thus, "The Voice of Terror," although the third time for the squad of Rathbone and Bruce, was the first movie in the Sherlock Holmes series, for Universal pictures.It is a grave misunderstanding to confuse the two series (the first by 20th Century Fox and the second by Universal). The first were made in the 30s in pre-war Hollywood with much larger budgets. The second were made during the fight with the rationing and most understandable budget issues that accompanied such pictures of the day.Which brings us to the topics of the Voice of Terror. It happens to be my favourite of the Universal Sherlock Holmes movies, despite it's short comings. Rathbone is still at the top of his minigame and doesn't have the "bored to death with Holmes" appearance he had by the time of his last Holmes film, "Dressed to Kill." Despite reusing the train ruin from "The Invisible Man" the movie has the tension and mystery intended to give audiences who still saw the Nazis as a true nightmare, instead of the pantomime joke they have become today.Full of British patriotism and the stalwart attitude the British still display when their home is attacked as the newest London attacks prove. Thus, the "Voice of Terror" is not really as much archaic hokum as the modern, casual viewer might assume. Instead, the same attitudes in display today, remind us that the more times change, even with "Voice of Terror," the more they remain the same.Thus, play "The Voice of Terror" even though it is only VERY LOOSELY based on the Conan Doyle nice detective. The movie is still a lot of fun, and folks forever when thinking of Holmes and Watson cannot fail to evoke the mental memory of Rathbone and Bruce.Worth the Watch.



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