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Saturday, August 17, 2013

THE SPIDER WOMAN (1944)

The fifth of Universal Studios’ updated Sherlock Holmes pics with Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce is one of their best, neatly structured, straightforward and effective. The plot isn’t echt Conan Doyle, but does use bits & pieces from the canon, including the opening which fakes the great detective's death in a watery spill. Don’t worry, Holmes quickly returns in one of his transparent disguises, hoping to get a leg up on the villain behind the ‘Pyjama Suicides.’ Not suicides at all but . . . murders most foul! Gale Sondergaard flashes a mouthful of sharp, shiny teeth as the wicked spider woman, up to her neck in an insurance scam and armed with henchmen of various shapes & sizes along with a seriously large tarantula. Good fun in its modest way with few of the longueurs & third-tier casting that weaken so many other promising entries. For newbies, it makes a good starting point for the whole series.

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