- Goodbye old friends - till we meet again 5/22/2005 12:00:00 AM by Spondonman
The last Rathbone Holmes (14/14) is again a slightly weaker affair than most of the preceding entries, another variant of The Pearl of Death this time involving music boxes. Music boxes whose tunes play out the location of the stolen and hidden Bank of England ￡5 plates no less. Holmes proves he has an inbuilt police whistle and a photographic(?) memory for music, whilst Watson says that he likes brass bands but is tone deaf. The woman here, although a thoroughly bad hat is not The Woman, the one and only Irene Adler who had bested Holmes in 1891, but for most of the film she has the upper hand.
By now the steam had left Rathbone, and although Bruce wanted to carry on and Universal held the copyright until 1949 the series had reached its natural conclusion. Director Roy William Neill had less than a year left to live too. Some lovely bits: Holmes consoling Mrs Hudson, distraught at letting 2 people into 221b who turned it over; Holmes' biscuit jar was seen to good advantage. And yes, the bullet holes in the wall from Faces Death were still there at the end! No matter how bad, mawkish or daft this marvellous series got I've always loved every entry. Watching a clean Definitive DVD of this with a lump in my throat I think of Brian Wilson's line "It's so sad to watch a sweet thing die", without even the dignity of end credits (they're lost).
All things must pass.
- Watson the Duck! 1/8/2006 12:00:00 AM by Coventry
The last in a wonderful cycle of 14 movies that got launched by a different major production company but always kept the brilliant duo of lead actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and his loyal assistant Dr. Watson. Some say this is a much weaker entry in the series but, quite frankly, I have no idea on what arguments those opinions are based, as this is another marvelously scripted and professionally directed detective adventure! When an old school friend of Dr. Watson is found murdered, Sherlock Holmes immediately suspects that this has something to do with his latest collector's item purchase, namely a wooden musical box. Two other identical boxes were made by a convicted burglar in prison and the altered melody hides a secret code that leads his accomplices to the location of two stolen Bank of England printing plates! True, the valuable-objects-hidden-at-different-locations premise is somewhat similar to the previous Holmes film "The Pearl of Death" and may therefore come across as unoriginal, but the screenplay contains more than enough variety to make "The Secret Code" another very compelling mystery film. Holmes female opponent, for example, is a truly clever woman who nearly succeeds in setting a trap for our brilliant detective during a very well-mounted sequence. Furthermore, "The Secret Code" (I refuse to use the completely irrelevant title "Dressed to Kill") is fast-paced and contains loads of terrific dialogues. As usual, Bruce's character Dr. Watson provides the story with a couple of neat comical moments, most notably the scene in which he tries to comfort a little girl who just got traumatized by imitating the sound of a duck...impressively, I may add.
- Their Last Bow 7/8/2005 12:00:00 AM by Ron Oliver
An exceedingly cunning female is DRESSED TO KILL as she challenges Sherlock Holmes for the possession of three nondescript music boxes from Dartmoor Prison.
Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce step in front of the movie cameras one last time as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary characters in this intriguing murder mystery. While it's fun to see the plot get solved the real enjoyment comes from simply being in the company of two very fine actors as they breathe life into their roles. As Sherlock Holmes, Rathbone gives us the great detective in all his cerebral glory, putting his whole intellect into breaking an exceptionally difficult code. Bruce, as Dr. Watson, is all bumbling geniality, quietly loyal to his friend, and, for one delightful moment, even quacking like a duck while trying to soothe a distraught child. Rathbone & Bruce gave us one of cinema's iconic partnerships, forever influencing how we cast Doyle's stories in the theater of our minds.
As in all the previous Holmes films a sturdy supporting cast keeps the intricate plot moving along: Patricia Morison as the exceptionally clever woman in search of the music boxes; Holmes Herbert as a punctilious auctioneer; Edmund Breon as an eccentric collector; Frederick Worlock as a crooked colonel; Henry Cording as a sinister chauffeur; Patricia Cameron as a pretty toy shop owner; Ian Wolfe as the Commissioner of Scotland Yard; and dear Mary Gordon back for her final turn as Mrs. Hudson.
Movie mavens will recognize Olaf Hytten as the auction house bookkeeper; Marjorie Bennett as the top shop clerk; comic Charles Hall as a curious taxi driver; and Wally Scott as the busker in the pub whose encyclopedic knowledge of tunes comes in very handy for Holmes. All are uncredited.
This film, which borrowed the merest wisp of an idea from Sir Arthur's A Scandal in Bohemia, followed TERROR BY NIGHT (1946) and was the last in the cinematic series, although Rathbone & Bruce also played Holmes & Watson many scores of times on the radio.
- The Last of the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes Stories 2/20/2004 12:00:00 AM by lawprof
"Dressed to Kill" puts Sherlock Holmes and the devoted but bumbling Dr. Watson on the trail of a ruthless gang intent on securing - by hook, crook or thrown dagger - three seemingly innocuous music boxes. The boxes come from a workshop in one of England's famous prisons. Perhaps vocational rehabilitation of cons has its downside.
The conspirators - a suave gentleman-type, a thuggish chauffeur and a beautiful woman - come close to writing finis to Holmes's career and his life. Of course they can not succeed where Dr. Moriarty has failed.
Set in a London past the time of Conan Doyle, the film features a never to be overused "follow that cab" episode. The usually exclusively cerebral Holmes here actually does some strenuous exercise and proves handy with a revolver.
Fun to watch, this isn't the best Rathbone/Bruce Holmes film but it's pleasant enough for a late, cold winter night's entertainment.
- Beware of the "deadly" music boxes 4/4/2005 12:00:00 AM by chris_gaskin123
Dressed To Kill was the last of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies. I rather enjoyed this.
Music boxes are sold at an auction and the buyers of these seem to get killed. Holmes and Watson are called to investigate these killings and learn that a young women, who is the leader of a criminal gang has something to do with them. After attempting to kill Holmes, she is caught at the end.
Joining Basil and Nigel in the cast are Patricia Morison as the gang leader and Holmes Herbert.
Dressed To Kill is a good way to spend just over an hour one evening. Great stuff.
Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.