Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon (1942) starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill
In Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon, Sherlock Holmes battles his nemesis Professor Moriarty. This time, to keep him away from a newly developed bomb sight the English hope to use on Hitler.
Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon is set during World War II. It begins with what appears to be three Nazi agents, meeting surreptitiously in Switzerland. They plan to kidnap a Dr. Tobel, who’s created a revolutionary bombsight. One of the three, disguised as an elderly book seller, goes to the doctor. However, it’s actually Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) in a very good disguise. He manages to get both the doctor and his invention back to England.
Once there, the doctor sneaks past the sleeping Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) to visit a young lady.
Dr. John H. Watson (Nigel Bruce): Woman? What woman?
Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone): She’s blonde. Five foot six, full lipped and very affectionate.
Dr. John H. Watson (Nigel Bruce): Oh, really?
While there, he leaves a mysterious code (the dancing men) with her … In case something happens to him. The following day, the test is a success. But, Dr. Tobel distrusts the government, and he’s split his invention into four sections, and sent them to four scientists. Each part is worthless without the other three. Holmes must find them … before the villainous Moriarty can!
Cast of characters
- Basil Rathbone (Son of Frankenstein, Comedy of Terrors) as Sherlock Holmes. Conceited, arrogant … and brilliant. The world’s greatest detective. And, as he demonstrates here, a master of disguise. He also knows Moriarty inside and out. And uses that knowledge to goad the Professor into killing him slowly … Buying time until Watson and Lestrade can rescue him.
- Nigel Bruce (Limelight, The Hound of the Baskervilles) as Doctor Watson. Holmes faithful friend. The good doctor is a befuddled as normal, although a skilled physician and surgeon. He does prove his worth when realizing that the sea chest (that Holmes is hidden in) is too heavy …
- Lionel Atwill (The Vampire Bat, The Three Musketeers) as Professor Moriarty. The brilliant, cold, criminal genius. Holmes’ equal, who’s aligned with the Nazis in this movie.
- Kaaren Verne as Charlotte Eberli. Tobel’s fiancée. She assists Holmes as best she can in finding Tobel.
- William Post Jr. as Dr Franz Tobel. The brilliant scientist who’s created the bombsight that both Nazi German and England want. He’s eventually kidnapped by Professor Moriarty and tortured … But he won’t talk.
- Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade. The unimaginative, but steadfast, Scotland Yard inspector. He’s integral to the rescue of Tobel … and Holmes. He’s more than copetant, as he demonstrates toward the end of the movie.
- Holmes Herbert (The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931) as Sir Reginald Bailey. The liason with the English government. And he’s desperate to recover Tobel and the bombsight.
- Mary Gordon (The Invisible Woman, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) as Mrs. Hudson. Holmes and Watson’s landlady. A likable secondary character.
- Henry Victor as Dr. Frederick Hoffner. The last of the four scientists to receive part of Tobel’s invention. Kidnapped by Moriarty, towards the end. Until it’s revealed that it’s actually Holmes in disguise. And Moriarty has a slow death planned for him …
Editorial review of Sherlock Holmes and The Secret Weapon courtesy of Amazon.com
Updated for the time in which it was produced. The Secret Weapon finds Sherlock Holmes sleuthing with WWII as a backdrop, and a good thing too. It seems Holmes’ greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill) is now in cahoots with the Nazis, a diabolical alliance that only Holmes, along with his trusty sidekick Dr. Watson can fracture. Working against time, Holmes must prevent Moriarty from gaining access to secrets that will enable him to build a devastating new bomb. The fate of all humanity lies in the good detective’s hands.