The third entry in Universal’s updated SHERLOCK HOLMES series has a dandy prologue as a few V.I.P. types rush to board a rare wartime flight from London to New York. The ones who continue on to D.C. via train give us a chance to sort out the government couriers, spies, enemy aliens & even accidental civilians before the lights go out and . . . something bad happens. The screenwriters seem to have cribbed a bit from superior thrillers like Hitchcock’s THE LADY VANISHES/’38 & Carol Reed’s NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH/’40, but they run out of steam (or inspiration) once Watson & Holmes pick up the case back in London. From then on, it’s standard issue for the series, though with better than average villains in Henry Daniell & George Zucco. We do get a quickie tour of the capital for Holmes & Watson making their first Stateside visit, but no one thought to grab a two-shot of those two great icons Abraham Lincoln (at his memorial) & Basil Rathbone’s Holmes.
DOUBLE-BILL: All Holmes fans need to see Billy Wilder’s butchered, but still great, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES/’70. Robert Stevens is a Holmes for the ages while Miklos Rozsa’s unbelievably gorgeous score will have you aching to hear the entire violin concerto he wrote for Heifetz and which Wilder asked him to adapt for the film.