Evening With Sherlock Holmes, An (Boxed Set)
The Woman In Green reintroducted Holmes' evil alter ego, Professor Moriarty, now played with suave coolness by the London-born Henry Daniell. Years later, reflecting on the Holmes series, Rathbone wrote: "There were other Moriartys, but none so delectably dangerous as was that of Henry Daniell." Executive producer Howard S. Benedict concurred, but the character of Moriarty died a conclusive death in this film and did not return to haunt Holmes or movie audiences again - at lease in this series. Reportedly Daniell was a serious fellow with interests in Eastern philosophy, a strict professional who kept to himself during filming. He certainly has no patience for delays on the set. The rest of the cast was far more relaxed. When a cocktail lounge scene between Rathbone and Hillary Brooke was taking too long to shoot, the pair decided to play-act at getting drunk, eventually slipping under the table to disappear! Gas-rationing had emptied American roads of foreign cars, but four of them, rented at rates of $35 to $50 each, did turn up in The Woman In Green. Two were classics from the late 1920s -- the French Renault taxi and its British counterpart, the Martin. Such motoring curios would grace other Holmes films as well, providing a delightful, albeit brief showcase for the car aficionado.
Dressed To Kill awakened memories of the Holmes of literature. Watson refers to the latest edition of The Strand Magazine and its publication of "Scandal in Bohemia." It didn't matter that original publication of this story took place in 1891, for producer/director Neill always made sure to merge the contemporary with the whimsical and decidedly more evocative past, a symbiosis that was part of the allure of the Universal films. This time, Holmes is up against Hilda Courtney, played by the sweetly beautiful Patricia Morison, a New York-born actress who specialized in exotic types in a mostly B-movie film career. It may seem curious that Holmes faces several "femme fatales" in his Universal days, but beautiful wicked women who led men to their doom were the rage in Hollywood, and pitting them agianst a man like Holmes seemed quite challenging, though the outcome of such a "battle of the sexes" was foreordained by Holmes' lack of sexual interest. Dressed To Kill was destined to be the last of the Holmes Universals. Four Holmes films were in the planning stages when Rathbone stunned the film community and the public by refusing to renew his contract. Likewise, he chose not to renew his contract for the Sherlock Homes radio series, which expired around the same time.
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon solidified the updating of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's consulting detective after Twentieth-Century-Fox abandoned its Victorian Holmes series after two films. Even Holmes' old nemesis, Professor Moriarty, last seen in Fox's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was back, this time aiding Nazis in their plan for world domination. Screen villain Lionel Atwill took over the role from George Zucco, infusing his toad-like character with an unrepentant sadism that still shocks today. Dennis Hoey made his first appearance in the series as the ineffectual but endearing Inspector Lestrade.
Terror By Night limited its action to the claustrophobic confines of a speeding train. The shortest Holmes film released by Universal, Terror By Night marked the last appearance of Dennis Hoey in the series. With Moriarty gone, a new piece of criminal evil was introduced, Colonel Sebastian Moran. "The most sinister, ruthless and diabolically clever henchman of our late and unlamented friend, Professor Moriarty," states Holmes.