Sherlock Holmes Faces Death

The first Holmes film in the Universal series to steer clear of overt WW II propaganda--although still set in contemporary times--SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH begins as Dr. Watson (Bruce) has resumed his medical practice and has taken charge of an army officer's convalescent home located at Musgrave Manor. When the two male Musgrave heirs (Muir and Worlock)...read more

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The first Holmes film in the Universal series to steer clear of overt WW II propaganda--although still set in contemporary times--SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH begins as Dr. Watson (Bruce) has resumed his medical practice and has taken charge of an army officer's convalescent home located at

Musgrave Manor. When the two male Musgrave heirs (Muir and Worlock) are found murdered after the clock strikes 13, Holmes (Rathbone) is called in to solve the crime. Holmes suspects that a family ritual--the recitation of ancient heraldic verses handed down by several generations of

Musgraves--contains the clues to the motivation for the murders. Holmes deduces that the verses refer to chess pieces and then notices that the floor of the main hall of the manor is laid out like a giant chess board. In an effort to ferret out the killer, Holmes has all the suspects act like

human chess pieces, instructing them to move as the ritual dictates. This visually effective film, one of the best in the series, was the first to be produced as well as directed by Roy William Neill, who further demonstrated his penchant for the macabre by directing FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN

in the same year. The Universal horror film connection continues as the underground crypt of Musgrave Manor is actually Count Dracula's crypt from DRACULA (1931). Peter Lawford played a bit part as a sailor in the pub scene.

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