Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942) is the fourth movie in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series. Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous characters are “updated” to 1940s. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon is a very loose adaptation of Holmes short story, “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” (though the only element from the story used in the film is the “dancing men” code).

Less a mystery than a spy film with the background oF World War II, the move centers around the kidnapping of a Swiss scientist by Professor Moriarty. Moriarty plans to steal the new super bomb sight and sell it to the Nazis. Holmes and Watson have to crack a secret code in order to stop Moriarty and prevent the bomb sight from falling into the hands of the Nazis. Sure, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon is a step above wartime propaganda, but I’m a fan of these Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies. Do you like these Rathbone/Bruce movies, too? Do you have a favorite Sherlock Holmes and Watson movie? GRADE: B


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Not much of a fan of the Rathbone/Bruce movies. I dislike how they turned Watson into a dunce. I remember liking The Seven Per Cent Solution with Nicol Williamson and Robert Duvall as Holmes and Watson but it has been awhile since I’ve seen it.

  2. Dan

    I’ve loved these since I was a wee lad. The Patriotic speeches in the early entries wear a bit, but the portrayal of war-ravaged soldiers in SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH is quite moving, and the Horror elements in PEARL OF DEATH and THE SPIDER WOMAN are as good (or better?) than anything else Universal was doing at the time.

    1. george Post author

      Dan, like you I first saw this Rathbone/Bruce movies as a kid. I loved them, too. I plan on rewatching them over the next few years and including them in future SHERLOCK HOLMES weeks.

  3. wolf

    I only remember The Hound of the Baskervilles – from famous Hammer productions:
    The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1959 British gothic horror mystery film directed by Terence Fisher and produced by Hammer Film Productions. It is based on the novel of the same title by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It stars Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes, Sir Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville and André Morell as Doctor Watson. It is the first film adaptation of the novel to be filmed in colour.
    It was really interesting to see Cushing and Lee in those totally different roles – most of the Hammer films were horror with vampires, witches etc …
    Again a bit OT (I’ve probably mentioned this already):
    I was a student at the time (early 60s) and went with my friends regularly to watch the late show at 11 pm – with a special “student discount”
    Those were the days!

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, yes those were the days! When I was reading Sherlock Holmes for the first time, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES was one of my favorites.

  4. Jeff Meyerson

    Yes, I liked them despite Watson being so dense, partly because he was likable anyway. HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES was the “class” of that series, but I enjoyed them all to one extent or another.

  5. Jerry House

    Count me in as one who loved Nigel Bruce’s Watson. Rathbone was good but the Holmes movies would have fallen flat without Bruce.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *