Friday, July 17, 2020

Once Again Through The Sherlock Holmes Miasma-Round Up The Usual Private Eyes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s-Based “Voice Of Terror” (1942)-A Film Review

Once Again Through The Sherlock Holmes Miasma-Round Up The Usual Private Eyes- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s-Based “Voice Of Terror” (1942)-A Film Review

DVD Review

By Seth Garth

Sherlock Holmes And The Voice Of Terror, starring foppish Basil Rathbone, fellow fop Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, 1942

Finally, I have gotten rid of the lame idea of having to do “dueling” reviews with young pup Will Bradley in this seemingly endless series of Sherlock Holmes flics. This is the series where Sherlock, played by aging dandy Basil Rathbone, and his male companion, make of that what you will, funky Doc Watson, played by foppish Nigel Bruce have been resurrected from late Victorian times to World War II times when it really was touch and go whether there would be some sun setting on the British Empire courtesy of Hitler’s Third Reich.

In this either twelve or fourteen series I can’t get a straight answer about how many they did they do their bit, do more than yeomen’s work, maybe OBE work to stem the freaking Nazi tide, a movement that had more than a few supporters in high places in old London town. Hell, the joint was crawling with them. In the previous ten or so reviews I have under the guiding hand of our esteemed site manager, Greg Green, aka the guy who hands out the assignments and hence esteemed, had to “battle” young Bradley for the true meaning of the Holmes myth. Greg’s idea, foolish idea if he dares to print this, was to have an old-timer vs. fresh look at the films to see what flushed out. I will not bore the reader with the details of that dispute, essentially a question of challenging the myth about the supposedly platonic Holmes-Watson relationship with hard evidence or their then closeted love for each other and their joint knee-deep involvement in every criminal operation from illegal drugs to armed robberies and more in greater London using the private eye gag as a cover. Against Will’s unbelievable naivete, really head in the sand, both on the true sexual relationship between the two men and the way they really supported themselves in the lap of luxury and idleness in their Bake Street digs.  

But enough of that, and good riddance, since Greg has now seen that the younger generation does not give a fuck about the old has-been Holmes and Watson and get their idea of this match-up from later Robert Downey, Junior-type interpretations of the Holmes myth. So with the film under review Voice of Terror I will just do what my old friend Sam Lowell, a fellow reviewer who is now, rightly so, under siege in his own older-younger writer wars called giving the ‘skinny.”

Apparently not trusting the vaunted foreign and domestic intelligence operations, MI5 and MI6 (the latter the one that one Bond, James Bond, took out of disgrace after Kim Philby ran the organization a merry chase during the early post-World War II Cold War period Winny Churchill kept warning about) the British intelligence inner council, you know the lords and such who ran things into the ground called in Holmes and by extension Watson to stop the flow of Nazi saboteurs and propaganda flooding Merry Olde England in post Munich, post Neville Chamberlain times. They really were running amok creating mortal terror among the ordinary citizenry especially with their radio broadcasts, their voice of terror broadcasts, about bad things happening in the country before they happened. Have everybody on edge. Looked like curtains for old John Bull (and his colonial tyranny).          

Off to work, off to figure out who was running the operation, the hearty team is stopped in its tracks when one of its operatives is killed trying to find out who is working for the filthy Nazis and where. All of this leads to two things first grabbing that operative’s wife Kitty, played by screaming Evelyn Ankers (who is not the dreaded voice of terror in this one like she was in a series of forgettable horror films, okay) and pumping her for information about the last words of her late husband. This is nothing but a ruse, an inner circle joke between Holmes and Watson since the last word was “Christopher,” meaning the dark and mysterious Christopher Wharves which they were quite familiar with from their trolling for “dilly boys” who worked the area and whose services both men were very familiar with. (If you are not familiar with the term “dilly boys” look it up but remember that reference to their sexual preferences and you will not be far off.) Be that as it may this was also the hideout of the key German operatives who had their own off-beat sexual proclivities to take care of. In any case through either Holmes or Watson’s stupidity they and Kitty were “captured” casing the area. Eventually they escaped as to be expected and found out that a German espionage operation was planned for southern England.

Off they go and from this point on you have to do some serious suspension of disbelief. As it turned out as almost anybody could tell who has read at least one detective novel in their lives this had to be an inside job. And it was. One of the esteemed members of the inner council was a traitor (remember I told you the sceptered island was swarming with Nazi sympathizers in high places) and that was that. Well not quite because Kitty in her attempts to thwart the Nazi scum took a fall, got killed holding off the leader of the Nazi thugs. A good soldier. Here is where that “suspension of disbelieve” comes in. Of course a member of the inner council could not be a British traitor, this before the Philby Cambridge spies exposes, no way, so the gag is that that person was an impostor, a German of similar appearance and status, sent as an infiltrator to England after killing the real guy. What gave him away. Well the real guy had a scar from an early age. The imposter’s was only about twenty years old and so it was another case of “elementary, dear (note the “dear”) Watson.” WTF. And you wonder why I have spent some considerable time bursting this balloon, taking these overblown amateurs to school who guys like Larry Larkin, Sam Spade, and Phil Marlowe, would have had for lunch and still have time for a nap.    

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