Cast & Crew
Roy William Neill
Walking the fog-laden streets of London one evening, making plans for their impending Scottish holiday, detective Sherlock Holmes and his associate Dr. Watson note in several newspapers the theft of the Duchess of Brookdale's emerald collection. While discussing the robbery, they are led by several innocuous clues to a meeting with the Prime Minister of the tiny country of Rovinia, who explains that the prior week's death of King Stephan of Rovina in an automobile accident was in reality an assassination by a group of insurgents determined to overthrow the country. Stephan's son, Prince Nikolas, who has been in Britain incognito since childhood, receiving a public school education, must now return to Rovinia to assume leadership of the country. The Prime Minister asks Holmes to escort Nikolas to Algiers, where he can be safely taken to Rovinia, and the detective agrees over Watson's protestations. At the airport later that night, Holmes and Watson meet Nikolas and discover their planned air transportation has unexpectedly broken down, leaving only a three-seat plane available. Suspecting sabotage, Holmes directs Watson to serve as a decoy by taking a Swedish liner to Alexandria, where he will later rendezvous with him and the prince. On board the S.S. Friesland , Watson meets a young American singer, Sheila Woodbury, who is sent off with a portfolio full of important musical arrangements by her manager. After the voyage gets underway, Watson is shocked to read a news bulletin describing the crash of a small three-seater airplane. Believing Holmes dead, Watson initially ignores the steward Sanford's request to minister to a stricken passenger. When he does respond, he discovers Nikolas and Holmes, who, deducing the likelihood of more sabotage, arranged to be secreted aboard the Friesland . Settling into the journey, Holmes becomes suspicious of Sheila, who is startled at discovering the detective on board and quick to form a romantic attachment to Nikolas, who is introduced as Watson's nephew. During an unexpected stop in Lisbon, the ship is boarded by three men, Gregor, Mirko and a mute, Gubec, who appear aware of Holmes' assignment and the true identity of Nikolas. Shortly after their arrival, Mirko attempts to stab Holmes, but is foiled by the detective, who recognizes him as a well-known circus artist, performing a knife throwing act. A wealthy passenger, Agatha Dunham, plans a party for the last night of the voyage, during which Holmes believes Gregor and his group will make another attempt on Nikolas. Sheila continues behaving suspiciously, repeatedly declining to part with her portfolio, and Holmes determines she is carrying the stolen Brookdale emeralds. When confronted, Sheila admits she is the unwitting courier for her jewel thief manager. At the Dunham party, Holmes prevents a bomb planted in a party favor from going off and accuses Gregor of the attempt on Nikolas. As the ship docks outside Alexandria, Holmes takes Nikolas below to prepare for their departure and sends Watson to meet the prince's escorts. As soon as he departs, Gregor, Mirko and Gubec break into Holmes' cabin, tie him up and take Nikolas. Watson returns with the Rovinian representatives and is horrified to discover the prince's kidnapping. Holmes calmly informs the group that Nikolas is safe, and reveals that Sanford the steward is the true prince, and "Nikolas" an arranged impostor. Holmes contacts the shore police in time for Gregor and his group to be arrested, and as the real Nikolas departs with his escorts, Holmes and Watson are at last free to take their belated holiday.
Roy William Neill
Wee Willie Davis
Sven Hugo Borg
Bernard B. Brown
Russell A. Gausman
Saul A. Goodkind
John B. Goodman
Roy William Neill
Jack P. Pierce
James E. Spilman
Pursuit to Algiers
Producer: Roy William Neill
Director: Roy William Neill
Screenplay: Leonard Lee; Arthur Conan Doyle (story "The Return of Sherlock Holmes")
Cinematography: Paul Ivano
Art Direction: John B. Goodman, Martin Obzina
Film Editing: Saul A. Goodkind
Cast: Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Dr. John H. Watson), Marjorie Riordan (Sheila Woodbury), Rosalind Ivan (Agatha Dunham), Morton Lowry (Sanford - Ship's Steward), Leslie Vincent (Nikolas Watson), Martin Kosleck (Mirko), Rex Evans (Gregor), John Abbott (Jodri), Gerald Hamer (Kingston), Wee Willie Davis (Gubec), Frederick Worlock (Prime Minister).
Pursuit to Algiers
The Sherlock Holmes Collection Volume 3
Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce starred as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in fourteen films over eight years. The first two, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, were produced by 20th Century Fox in 1939. In 1942 Universal acquired the rights, borrowed the actors, and launched its own 12-film series which has now been released chronologically in three sets of four DVDs by MPI.
One of the beauties of these pictures is that they can be enjoyed by truly all ages. They feature elegant suspense, satisfying mystery and action, intellectual problem-solving, wonderful comic relief, good villains, and of course the unique chemistry of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the roles for which they will forever be known.
The Woman in Green (1945) is a standard entry in the series but has perhaps the best of the Prof. Moriartys (Holmes' arch-nemesis) in the actor Henry Daniell. Three films featured Moriarty, and he was played by three different actors - the other two being George Zucco and Lionel Atwill. Daniell's smoothness made him especially menacing, and Rathbone himself later wrote, "There are other Moriartys, but none so delectably dangerous as was that of Henry Daniell."
Pursuit to Algiers (1945), set almost entirely on a ship, is dramatically perhaps the weakest of the series, but there's really not a bad film in the bunch. Watson sings in this one - not too badly, as it turns out - and handles a touching dramatic moment very well. Terror By Night (1946) is a rock-solid entry which finds the duo aboard a train, on which almost every passenger could be a murderer and jewel thief. Dennis Hoey makes his last appearance as Inspector Lestrade. Roy William Neill (who produced and directed most of these films, and died of a heart attack just months after they concluded) keeps the tension high, and the twist ending is especially clever.
The series finale, Dressed to Kill (1946), is very strong and satisfying. It moves so well that you don't really notice how prepostrous the story is. The woman who walks around dressed to kill is played by beautiful Patricia Morison, a talented actress who never got the major parts she deserved, and Holmes and Watson engage in delicious dialogue such as this typical exchange: Watson: "It seems to me they're a bunch of lunatics." Holmes: "Not lunatics, my dear fellow. Extremely astute cold-blooded murderers."
Even before Dressed to Kill began shooting, Rathbone had had enough. He'd been feeling pigeon-holed by Holmes and wanted to move on. In addition to the movies, he had played the role on over 200 half-hour radio programs with Bruce. But Rathbone's best non-Holmes films were behind him, and his career started a steady decline. Bruce wanted to continue, and this was the source of a sizable disagreement between the two friends. (Bruce did continue the weekly radio show for one more season, with Tom Conway filling in for Rathbone.) In the end, "pigeon-holed" is a vast understatement when it comes to these actors in these roles. No one who has ever seen them can ever think of Holmes and Watson without thinking of Rathbone and Bruce, so perfect were they for the characters and so perfect was their chemistry.
Audio commentary by David Stuart Davies, author of Starring Sherlock Holmes, can be found on the DVD of The Woman In Green, though Davies discusses all four films. He is quite knowledgeable, and Holmes connoisseurs will be pleased to hear from which stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle each film borrowed bits and pieces. Volume 3 also includes a brief, fascinating newsreel of Conan Doyle himself talking about his creation, and a 3-minute, nicely done montage of production stills and poster art. The liner notes by Richard Valley offer enough details on the films and their supporting casts to satisfy the most relentless trivia hounds.
There's also a page in the notes from UCLA explaining the source materials for the restorations. Due to the various states of existing negatives and safety prints, the films do vary in quality, and some minor blemishes have permanently worked themselves into the films. For the most part, however, the movies look sensational, with beautiful blacks and rich shadows.
With the release of Volume 3, all twelve Universal films are now available on DVD. As for the two Fox films, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, MPI plans to release them on April 27, 2004. While they are not UCLA restorations, MPI assured this reviewer that the source materials are good-quality 35mm prints and that the discs will be laden with extras.
To order The Sherlock Holmes Collection Vol. 3, go to TCM Shopping.
by Jeremy Arnold
The Sherlock Holmes Collection Volume 3
The working title for this film was The Fugitive. For additional information on the series and other films featuring the Arthur Conan Doyle characters, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, and the entries for Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4020 and F3.2009.