“Dressed to Kill” (1946) is the final “Sherlock Holmes” film starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, capping a series of 14 movies. That’s enough reason watch, but you may find watching difficult as copies of this public domain movie are not in great condition.
A prison inmate makes plain wooden music boxes, and they are sold at auction to collectors and toy store owners. We eventually discover that the music boxes contain clues to hidden plates that were used in a forgery scheme. His gang on the outside are retrieving the music boxes to get the clues, to get the plates.
Though the series was fun, I was never quite reconciled to placing Sherlock outside his Victorian era. The only time we see his deerstalker hat in this movie is a brief glimpse in the background, resting on a wig stand. It looks a little sad.
Dr. Watson, again, provides the comic relief, particularly when comforting a little girl they’ve rescued. He is left to babysit and tries to amuse her by making duck sounds. This distresses her more.
Sherlock, on the other hand, has friends in lower society, such as the busker in the pub for street singers who helps him trace a tune from a music box as a clue. He’s a scruffy-looking fellow, but all business and with far more dignity than the clownish Stinky.
The title of the movie, which doesn’t sound like a Sherlock Holmes story at all (unless somebody was murdered during Fashion Week in NYC), comes from the villain’s wearing disguises to commit crimes.
This was early 1946, when the horrors of the Nazi regime were still raw and still being uncovered. A startling and somewhat sickening line.
New England Travels blog for Tuesday’s post on William Gillette, who played Sherlock on stage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He coined many of the attributes we think of when we think of Sherlock Holmes, and built an extraordinary castle on the Connecticut River.