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Saturday, September 5, 2009

THE PEARL OF DEATH (1944)


There’s a pleasant zip to this Sherlock Holmes pic, one of twelve made during WWII @ Universal w/ Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce, which makes it a particularly good entry point for newbies. The Holmes/Watson relationship is particularly well-balanced here with Bruce getting a neat solo comic turn that also works as a plot point in the story line. And, this time out, that story line is taken from an actual Conan Doyle Holmes tale, THE SIX NAPOLEONS, the one about the fabulous stolen pearl with a deadly curse on it. As usual, the lack of depth in Universal contract players is regrettable, but the strong narrative elements and Roy William Neill ‘s efficient, yet atmospheric helming, make it less noticeable. So does the truly startling presence of Rondo Hattan as ‘The Creeper.’ Just for the record, this guy is not wearing any fright make-up. Yikes!

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