Monday, 14 February 2011

The Woman in Green

From the Spy in Black to the Woman in Green, a 1945 Sherlock Holmes tale with Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson. I must confess to never being fully comfortable with anyone else in these respective roles.

There are a succession of murders in different parts of London in which young women are murdered and one fo their fingers surgically removed, but why? Scotland Yard is baffled much to the anger of the head of detectives so Inspector Gregson, I do prefer La Strange of latter years, calls in Holmes for help who is also baffled. They go for a drink in a night club (unlikely) where Holmes sees Sir George Fenwick out with a very attractive young woman. She invites Sir George back to her flat where her maid is expecting them and where Sir George is then served a night cap. He cannot remember what has happened when he wakes up the following morning but then finds a severed finger from the latest murder in his coat pocket which upon discovering he buries after visit his female friend who can shred no light on the situation saying that he left early.

The man’s daughter comes to Holmes for help and Homes notes that she is being followed. They rush to the house of the girl only to find that her father has been murdered. She witnessed her father burying something in the garden which she digs up to find the severed finger.

It at this point that we learn, as also Holmes work out, that the reason for the murders is that the fingers have been planted on other men who are then blackmailed. And the organiser of this terrible crime? Well of course it is Moriarty.

Watson is called out to a former patient, something he has not done for sometime as he has to find and dust his medical bag. While away Moriarty calls to tell Homes to back off or Watson will be killed. Holmes appears to agree and Watson returns unharmed. Holmes then foils an attempt to kill himself by telling Watson to go over and shut the open window in the empty house opposite. When Watson does this, he believes he is too late to stop a sniper killing his friend. However Holmes has followed him into the house and explains that he put a bust of Julius Caesar behind the lighted window to give the impression that he was at home. Do you notice, he asks Watson .that all great men appear to have long noses? The sniper has been hypnotised. When they discovered the body of Sir George Fenwick he was clutching in his hand a match folder from the nightclub. The sniper is then himself killed as he is being led away. What is surprising at this point is that Homes is also not killed in the same event.

Holmes then makes friends with the woman he saw at the nightclub and she takes him back to the house where his drink is spiked with a sedative which makes him amenable to being hypnotised. Moriarty enters and arranges for Homes to write a suicide note and then go out to the ledge on the apartment balcony and jump to his death. Watson and the police arrive to arrest the criminals. Holmes has only pretended to by hypnotised having taken a drug to give the impression of being under the influence. Moriarty tries to escape but appears to fall to hid death from a pipe which gives way, Moriarty falls to his death three times in this series but manages to survive and to appear again. The film lasts less than 70 minutes and would have been regarded as a made for TV series in more recent times.

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