HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
Burning Sea, The
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman Deadlier Than The Male
Year: 1944
Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gale Sondergaard, Dennis Hoey, Vernon Downing, Alec Craig, Arthur Hohl, Mary Gordon, Teddy Infuhr, Angelo Rossitto
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: The talk of London is the spate of sensational suicides dubbed the "Pyjama Suicides" due to the dead being found in their night clothes. Where is Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) when the city needs him to solve the mystery of these tragedies? He's enjoying a fishing holiday up in Scotland with his constant companion Dr John Watson (Nigel Bruce), and while he stands by the river's edge, Watson reads about the deaths in the newspaper, wondering why his friend hasn't done anything about them. When he confronts Holmes, the great detective tells him that they are no suicides but really murders, but he won't do anything to stop them as he has been feeling dangerously ill recently...

Cobbled together from bits and pieces of Arthur Conan Doyle stories by Bertram Millhauser, The Spider Woman (its onscreen title) emerges as one of the better efforts in this series. It begins with Holmes suffering a dizzy spell and taking a tumble into the waters, leaving everyone assuming he's dead - how little they know him. Even Watson is in mourning, and makes plans to send Holmes' effects and scrapbooks to the British Museum with the help of Inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey). This is a particularly eventful instalment, and no viewer will be taken aback when the postman who turns up to deliver a letter to Watson turns out to be a certain someone in disguise.

Rathbone has a lot of fun with his disguises, and of course the gullible Watson has trouble seeing through them, but is immensely relieved when the trick is revealed ("Holmes!", he vociferates, practically collapsing to comic effect). Sherlock has decided that the mastermind behind the "suicides" is female, as we may have guessed from the title, even though it's difficult to guess why he had to fake his own death to instigate the investigation. Nevertheless, he dons yet another disguise, this time an Indian nobleman with a paralysed arm, to go undercover and lure the woman, who we now know to be one Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard), into a trap.

One of the strongest elements of this film is that the villainess is more than a match for the heroes - until the finale, anyway. Sondergaard is a female Moriarty, with an apparent network of henchmen who do her bidding, and to see her pit her wits against Holmes in slyly amusing scenes makes for winning entertainment. See the sequence where Holmes in his Indian disguise goes round to Miss Spedding's for a cup of tea, thinking he has the upper hand at first, but realising that she is onto him when she "accidentally" splashes hot tea onto him, wiping away some of his dusky makeup. With both sides aware of each other's motives, the suspense is better than the more average entries.

Another thing that makes this stand out is that the bumbling Watson is actually some use to working out the plot for a change. Sure, he plays the tuba for no good reason, and mistakes a bearded entomologist for Holmes, but he also puts the detective on the right track as to how Spedding commits the murders. With large, poisonous spiders and an apparent killer child, there's a welcome touch of the macabre to The Spider Woman, and the pace moves along like a contemporary serial from one death defying exploit to another, including an ingenious way of knocking out Holmes and Watson in their own flat on the part of the baddie. The film sees both Rathbone and Bruce at their most typical and endearing, and is justifiably regarded as one of the gems in this set of adaptations. Sondergaard returned in The Spider Woman Strikes Back.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 7083 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: