HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Mighty Wind, A
Man at the Top
Guru the Mad Monk
Jezebel
Monos
Life at the Top
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
   
 
Newest Articles
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
   
 
  Pearl of Death, The Back-Breaking WorkBuy this film here.
Year: 1944
Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Miles Mander, Evelyn Ankers, Dennis Hoey, Ian Wolfe, Charles Francis, Holmes Herbert, Richard Nugent, Rondo Hatton, Mary Gordon
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: The priceless pearl of the Borgias is being transported across the sea to Dover, but the man carrying it in a secret compartment in his luggage is called away from his cabin by a message. This set up gives expert thief Naomi Drake (Evelyn Ankers) the opportunity to break into his cabin and steal the treasure; hiding it in a camera, she gives it to an elderly gentleman for safekeeping, knowing he won't be stopped at customs. But she has been fooled, for the elderly man is Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) in disguise, and he delivers the pearl to the museum where it will be displayed. However, the criminal mastermind behind the attempted robbery, Giles Conover (Miles Mander), will not give up so easily...

Written by Bernard Millhauser, The Pearl of Death was adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, and expanded accordingly to fill an hour-and-a-bit. It is commonly regarded as one of the better modern day, 1940s, adaptations of Holmes, perhaps because of the main embellishment to the plot, a back-breaking thug in Conover's employ, known as The Creeper. This villain was played by acromegaly sufferer Rondo Hatton, and launched him into a short trilogy of films whose only connection was that the disfigured Hatton appeared as the murderous Creeper in all of them.

However, if you're all fired up to anticipate a horror story starring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce once more), then you will have been misled. For the most part this is a traditional detective story, and Hatton only shows up in the latter stages, even then shrouded in the shadows for the most part. What is also notable is that Holmes' predilection for showing off his towering intellect leads to his temporary downfall when he demonstrates how the museum's burglar alarm can easily be switched off, only for Conover to seize his opportunity and steal the pearl. Holmes is in disgrace, with only Watson sticking up for him, and the great sleuth has to track down the stolen item to make up for his error.

As ever, Rathbone and Bruce make a reliable team, with Bruce handling the comic relief. He hides the pearl in his mouth not once, but twice, essays a bit of business with a sticky newspaper cutting, and tries to use Holmes-style powers of deduction when he is visited unexpectedly. He fails, of course, to notice that the visitor is Conover, delivering a booby trapped book, and Mander portrays the villain as a kind of hitherto unknown Moriarty clone, complete with a flair for disguise (Naomi is good at dressing up too). Having the baddies ouwit Holmes near the beginning is a good idea, causing them to look more formidable; as usual, the only equals to Holmes' intelligence are the characters set against him - you will wonder how the obtuse Lestrade (the amusing Dennis Hoey) ever became an inspector.

It's not consistently effective, it has to be said, as the news reaches Holmes that someone is going about breaking backs and smashing bric-a-brac, in an apparent robbery attempt. The detective immediately works out the connection between these crimes and the missing pearl, but it takes him too long to reason that the pearl is hidden in one of six plaster busts of Napoleon - the scene in the plaster manufacturers in particular seems unneccessary in its spelling out of events. It all recovers for a thrilling climax, luckily, when Holmes finally confronts not only Conover, but the Creeper as well - it's not often you see Sherlock Holmes looking scared, but the brute puts the fear of death into him. So, a good, solid entry in the series, but maybe Rondo fans will be a little disappointed by his brief appearance.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4107 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


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 is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: