Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Basil Rathbone: From the Boer War to The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

His name was Philip St. John Basil Rathbone, he was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 13, 1892 and his family fled after the Boers accused his father, mining engineer, Edgar Philip Rathbone of being a British spy. Connecting him to the British colonial administrator, Leander Starr Jameson's, screwed up raid against the "South African Republic (aka: The Transvaal)" on December 29,1895 through January 2, 1896. Basil had no real memory of this, because he was only three-years-old. 

His mother, Anna Barbara George Rathbone was a violinist, his two older brothers were named Harold and Horace, his two younger siblings were named Beatrice and John. From 1906 to 1910, Basil was enrolled in the Derbyshire co-educational school, "Repton's", in the English East Midlands. Upon graduation, Basil took a position as an insurance clerk at the "Liverpool and Globe Insurance Companies", to appease his father. That didn't last long, and on April 22, 1911, Basil Rathbone made his first appearance on stage as "Hortensio", in William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew", at the "Theatre Royal", in Ipswich, Suffolk. 

In October 1912, Basil Rathbone started appearing in the United States with his cousin Sir Frank Benson's No. 2 stage company. Three-years later, Basil Rathbone was a British army private in the London Scottish Regiment's reserves. Serving with Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall, and Ronald Colman. 

In 1914, Basil Rathbone married Ethel Marian Foreman and the two would divorce in 1926. The couple had one son, Rodion Rathbone born in 1915.

Early in 1916, Philip St. John Basil Rathbone was commissioned a lieutenant in the 2/10th Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regiment (The Liverpool Scottish). There, Basil served as an intelligence officer and was promoted to captain.  News would reach Captain Rathbone, that his young brother, John, had been killed in action on June 4, 1918. That event affected Basil and he ignored the dangers of the Western Front and in September 1918, he was awarded the Military Cross, two-months later the war ended and the actor returned to the British stage. During his military life, he was twice the British Army fencing champion.

By 1920, Basil Rathbone was a familiar face not only in Shakespearean roles, which he excelled in, and in October, 1923, the actor appeared at the Cort Theatre in New York City, opposite leading lady Eva Le Gallienne, a British born American actress, in Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar's, "A Hattyu (The Swan)", and became a recognized Broadway star.

Two-years earlier, Philip St. John Basil Rathbone appeared in his first motion picture, it had been made in the United Kingdom.

THE INNOCENT released in March 1921

British authoress Mary Mackay, whose pseudonym was Marie Corelli had started publishing novels in 1886.

Corelli became a popular writer of romantic fiction, but also her novels attempted to reconcile Christianity with reincarnation and astral projection and were considered as science fiction. During Queen Victoria's reign, Marie Corelli's novels out sold those of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, and Rudyard Kipling combined. It is reported that the Royal family read all her novels and a young Winston Churchill collected them. 

In 1914, Marie Corelli published "Innocent: Her Fancy and His Fact", basically about the mistreatment of illegitimate children. A November 22, 1914 review in the "New York Times" described the novel as:

the kind of book once beloved by the romantic and unsophisticated schoolgirl.
This novel became the basis for a one-hour feature film entitled "The Innocent" and co-starred Basil Rathbone portraying "Amadis de Jocelyn, his first on-screen role and the villain of the piece. The role of "Innocent", was portrayed by Madge Stuart, in her eighth motion picture.

"IMDb" describes the story as:
An orphan learns an artist's love is false, returns to the farm, and dies in a storm.

What follows contains a selection of the 132 film and television titles that Basil Rathbone appeared in over his career! 

Four motion pictures after "The Innocent", found Basil Rathbone in his first American made feature film, a 1924 comedy entitled, "Trooping with Ellen". Rathbone was fourth-billed portraying "Tony Winterslip" and the story was based upon a novel written by Earl Derr Biggers, the creator of the Honolulu based Chinese-American detective, "Charlie Chan".

During the year he divorced Ethel, Basil Rathbone married actress Ouida Bergère, born Eunie Branch. The couple remained married until his death. Their infant child had died in 1928, and in 1939 they adopted a new born daughter, Cynthia, but she passed away in 1969.

For Basil Rathbone's second sound motion picture, he starred as a major fictional detective by another writer of the period.

THE BISHOP MURDER CASE released on December 31, 1929

This was the third feature film about author S.S. Van Dine's detective, "Philo Vance". The first two motion pictures, also in 1929, starred William Powell. Now, Rathbone took over the role for this one outing, and in 1930, Powell was back portraying "Vance".

How is my reader on nursery rhymes? The body of a man named "Cock Robin" is found dead with an arrow through his heart on an archery range. Next to his body has been placed the chess piece known as "The Bishop". So, begins a rather good mystery with clues pointing to "Sigurd Arnesson" portrayed by pre-"Topper", Roland Young. Who interesting enough, portrayed "Dr. Watson", to John Barrymore's 1922, "Sherlock Holmes". 

Above, Roland Young and Lelia Hyams as his love, "Belle Dillard".

During 1935, Basil Rathbone made seven motion pictures, five of those roles I will mention next.

DAVID COPPERFIELD released on January 18, 1935 

If you were under contract on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot, you had a role in the George Cukor directed, originally two-hour-and thirteen-minute version of British author, Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield". Cukor had just directed MGM's, 1933, version of authoress Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women", starring Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, and Paul Lukas. 

The title role was portrayed by two actors, Freddie Bartholomew portrayed "David - the child", and Frank Lawton portrayed "David - the man".

In a cast that included Edna May Oliver, Una O'Connor, Lionel Barrymore, Elsa Lanchester, W.C. Fields, Roland Young, Lewis Stone, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Elizabeth Allan.

Basil Rathbone portrayed "David Copperfield's, severe and insensitive, step-father, Mr. Murdstone".


Basil Rathbone moved from MGM's version of Charles Dickens to MGM's version of Russian Count Leo Tolstoy.

ANNA KARENINA premiered in New York City on August 30, 1935

British film critic, author, and screenplay writer, Graham Greene, the novels and motion picture versions, 1943's, "Ministry of Fear", 1949's, "The Third Man", 1955's, "The Quiet American", 1958's, "Our Man in Havana", and 1966's, "The Comedians", wrote in the British newsmagazine "The Spectator", October 11, 1935:

it is Greta Garbo's personality which 'makes' this film, which fills the mould of the neat respectful adaptation with some kind of sense of the greatness of the novel

Graham Greene's full article also stated that the only actor who could compete with Gabo's performance was Basil Rathbone.

Above, Basil Rathbone portraying "Czarist Official Alexei Alexandrovitch Karenin", Greta Garbo portraying his wife "Anna Arkadyevna Karenina", and Freddie Bartholomew portraying their son "Sergei".

Below, Greta Garbo with Frederick March portraying "Count Vronsky". 

Very briefly, this is the tragic story of a married woman, "Anna", with a young son ---

--- who meets a dashing young officer, "Count Vronsky", and falls under his spell, believing he truly loves her. 

"Anna" tells "Karenin" that she loves "Count Vronsky", but he refuses to give her a divorce. He orders her to remain his wife, or face banishment and humiliation from their peers and family. 

"Karenin" now informs "Sergei" that his mother is dead. Not knowing this, "Anna" asks "Karenin" for permission to see her son on his birthday and is denied. With "Karenin" out of the house, she goes in, he returns and confronts her. She leaves only to discover that "Count Vronsky" has orders to leave for the front in the Serbo-Turkish War. "Anna" goes to the train station to see him off, but observes "Vronsky" with another young woman. "Anna Karenina" commits suicide by throwing herself under the wheels of a fast-moving train.

Next, Basil Rathbone met the team who brought "The Eighth Wonder of the World", to the motion picture screen.

THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII released on October 18, 1935

The story of Pompeii has been made into motion pictures since the silent era. The 1935 feature was produced by Merian C. Cooper, the man behind 1933's, "King Kong".

During the Vietnam War, I was stationed in Naples, Italy, and made several trips to the ruins at Pompeii and up Mount Vesuvius. My linked article, "POMPEII DESTROYED: Motion Pictures VS Reality", is at:

The above article includes photos I took at the "Reagan Library", when they had the Pompeii exhibit. 

While Basil Rathbone's father was accused by the Boers as being a British spy, Merian C. Cooper was a spy for the "Office of Strategic Services (OSS)", known today as the "Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)". My article, "MERIAN C. COOPER: BEFORE 'KING KONG' TO 'CINERAMA", can be read at:

The screenplay for "The Last Days of Pompeii" was written by Ruth Rose. The picture was a family affair, Rose was the wife of Merian C. Cooper's partner and the main director of all of their productions, Ernest B. Schoedsack. My following linked article is also a semi-biography of Schoedsack, "RUTH ROSE: The Real 'Ann Darrow', the 1933 'King Kong', the Screenplay and More", at:

As I said this was a family affair and two other names from 1933 are directly associated with this feature film. Stop-motion-animator Willis "Obie" O'Brien, who brought "Kong" and his son to life. was the features chief technician, I look at both O'Brien's 1925 version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, 1912, "The Lost World" and "Obie's" dream project in my article, "WILLIS O'BRIEN: 1925's 'The Lost World' and the Story of Gwangi", at:

All the visual effects miniatures were constructed by Marcel Degado. My article, "MARCEL DELGADO: The Artist That Built the 1933 'King Kong", may be read at:

Some of the Cast:

Preston Foster portrayed "Marcus". To my television generation, Preston Foster was "Captain John Herrick", of the tugboat, the "Cheryl Ann" at the Los Angeles "Waterfront", 1954 -1955. Foster had the title role in the classic, first technicolor horror movie, 1932's, "Dr. X", starring pre-"King Kong", Fay Wray.

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Pontius Pilate". Rathbone would follow this feature film with a forgotten drama, 1935's, "A Feather in Her Hat", co-starring with Pauline Lord, this was the second of her only two motion pictures, and Louis Hayward.

Alan Hale, Sr. portrayed "Burbix". Hale had just appeared in director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1935, "The Crusades", and would follow this feature film with 1935's, "Another Face", starring Wallace Ford, Brian Donlevy", and Phyllis Brooks.

Above, John Wood portraying "Flavis as a Man", Preston Foster, and Alan Hale, Sr. 

The Basic Story:

This is a religious themed screenplay, as was the novel, but the story is not the one written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The story opens in the Roman city of Pompeii in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. "Marcus" is a happily married blacksmith with a young wife and baby.

Above, Gloria Shea portraying "Julia", holding her and "Marcus's" son. 
Walking the crowded streets of Pompeii, "Julia" and the baby are run down by a man on a chariot. "Marcus" spends their life savings on medicine and a doctor, but he needs more money to buy more medicine. The blacksmith now becomes a gladiator, winning his first fight, but returns to find both his wife and son have died. An embittered "Marcus" becomes both a famed, but fierce gladiator. 

The story continues and in a gladiatorial match, "Marcus" kills a man, but learns he has a young son and adopts him. "Marcus" next become a slaver and while attacking an African village to turn the village men into slaves. He is about to kill a man, who mentions he also has a son, and "Marcus" doesn't kill him, stops slaving, and becomes a trader instead. Later, after rescuing a fortune teller, "Marcus" is told that his son will be saved by the greatest man in Judea.

"Marcus" believes that can only be the governor, "Pontius Pilate" and takes "Flavus" to meet him. On their journey to Jerusalem, they stop at an inn, one of the other men there, tells "Marcus" that the greatest man is staying in the stable, which "Marcus" will not believe.

Arriving in Jerusalem, "Marcus" and "Flavus" meet the real "greatest man", "Pontius Pilate". Knowing of his history,
 "Pilate" employees "Marcus" to lead a band of cutthroats on a raid for horses from the Ammonites.

Above, Basil Rathbone, Preston Foster, and David Holt portraying "Flavus, the boy".

The raid goes off as planned, but "Flavus" falls from a horse and is near death. "Marcus" has heard of a great healer, the man from the stable, and he takes his dying son to him.

"Marcus" returns to Jerusalem with "Pilate's" share of the money, only to discover that "Pontius Pilate" has sentenced "Jesus" to be crucified and the deed hangs heavy upon him.

As "Marcus", "Flavus", and their trusted servant "Burbix" leave Jerusalem, they cannot miss seeing the three crosses on the hill, with one holding the body of "Jesus".

Years pass and both men remain friends and "Flavus" has grown into manhood. "Marcus" has invited "Pontius Pilate" to visit his lavish home in Pompeii. "Marcus" now owns a gladiator school and slaves are used to fight and die during the training of the future gladiators. "Flavus" announces he has fallen in love with a girl, "Clodia", portrayed by Dorothy Wilson. "Marcus" is at first very happy for his son.

This immediately turns to concern when "Flavus" reveals that "Clodia" is an escaped slave that he rescued. "Pilate" is quick to remind both men that helping an escaped slave is against the law and is a sentence to death.

"Pilate" leaves for Jerusalem with his haunting memories of "Jesus". Unknown to "Marcus", "Flavus" is actually helping many slaves escape. ""Flavus" meets "Clodia" and the two start helping some more slaves to escape his father's own training school and are arrested.

This leads to the climax of the film, as Mount Vesuvius erupts, "Marcus" saves "Flavus", "Clodia", and the other prisoners in the jail awaiting execution, but dies as he holds open the gate to the docks and has a vision of "Jesus" calling to him. 

Next, it was back to British author Charles Dickens and one of Basil Rathbone's First World War buddies:

A TALE OF TWO CITIES premiered in New York City, December 15, 1935

This production had MGM and producer David O. Selznick going to extreme lengths to make an epic version of the Charles Dickens novel. As of this writing, this feature is still considered the best filmed version of Dickens' work and was nominated for the "Best Picture Academy Award" and for "Best Film Editing".

Although the on-screen writing credits goes to two men, W.P. Lipscomb and S.N. Behrman, along with Dicken's novel. Looking at the actual MGM writing credits, you will find four other names for the source material on the French Revolution period. They are Thomas Caryle's "The French Revolution", M Clery's "Journal of the Temple", "The Memoirs" of Mademoiselle des Echerolles, and "The Memoirs" of M. Nicholas.  

There is one change to the story that is of interest to film makers and fans of the novel. In Dickens' story, the characters of "Sydney Carton" and "Charles Darnay" are described as looking almost like identical twins and normally the same actor portrays both roles on the legitimate stage and previous films going back to the silent era. However, Ronald Colman had a bad experience with the 1933 motion picture, "The Masquerader". In it, Colman had another dual role, that of a drug-addicted member of Parliament and his lookalike cousin, who is made to take his place. So, the actor refused to do the dual roles of this story.

According to the notes on the "Turner Classic Movies" website:

Selznick later commented, "I am glad now that he held out for that, because I think a great deal of the illusion of the picture might have been lost had Colman rescued Colman and had Colman gone to the guillotine so that Colman could go away with Lucie." 
Some of the Cast and Their Characters:

Ronald Colman portrayed "Sydney Carton". Colman had just co-starred with Joan Bennett and Colin Clive, in the 1935 comedy, "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo". The actor would follow this feature with 1936's, "Under Two Flags", co-starring with Claudette Colbert and Victor McLaglen.

Elizabeth Allen portrayed "Lucie Manette". Allen had just co-starred in director Tod Browning's, 1935, horror thriller, "Mark of the Vampire", with Lionel Barrymore and Bela Lugosi. She would next be seen on-screen in 1936's, "Camille", starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor.

Above, Elizabeth Allen and Ronald Colman

Donald Woods portrayed "Charles Darnay". Should you be a fan of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, then you know Donald Woods as "Navy Captain Phil Jackson", in 1953's, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms". In 1934, Woods co-starred with Warner Oland in "Charlie Chan's Courage", in 1935, he co-starred with Warren Williams the first on-screen "Perry Mason", in "The Case of the Curious Bride", directed by Michael Curtiz, in 1937, Donald Woods portrayed "Perry Mason" in "The Case of the Stuttering Bishop", and in 1941, he starred in the three-hour-and-forty-seven-minute cliff-hanger, "Sky Raiders" with Robert Armstrong. 

Above, Henry B. Walthall as "Dr. Manette" and Donald Woods

Basil Rathbone portrayed the "Marquis St. Evremonde". 

I would be amiss, if I did not mention one other member of the cast.

Blanche Yurka portrayed the delightfully evil "Madame Therese De Farge". Yurka, born Jurka, started out as an Opera singer with the "New York Metropolitan Opera", but moved to the legitimate stage. She had two very minor roles in two silent movies, 1917, 1919, and this was her first on-screen role since them. Blanche Yurka became an established character actress and was in the excellent, little known or remembered, werewolf movie, 1944's, "Cry of the Werewolf", starring Nina Foch as the werewolf princess. She also memorably portrayed Zachery Scott's mother in 1945's, "The Southerner". 

The Basic Screenplay starts with the following on-screen title card, right out of Charles Dickens.

The audience meets in England, "Lucie Manette" and her servant and companion, "Miss Pross", portrayed by Edna May Oliver, as they find out from an elderly banker, "Mr. Jarvis Lorry", portrayed by Claude Gillingwater, that "Lucie's" thought dead father for the last 18-years, "Dr, Manette", was not dead, but has been a prisoner in the Bastille all that time. 

This news is accompanied by the fact he has been rescued, reunited, and the three now travel to France to bring him home."Dr.Manette" has lost his mind, but will recover, in Paris, France, with the tender care of his daughter.

On a return trip to England, "Lucie" meets "Charles Darnay", a French aristocrat, who unlike his uncle, the "Marquis St. Evremonde", is sympathetic to the French masses. "Darnay" has denounced his uncle, relinquished his title, changed his name and is going to England to start a new life.

"St. Evremonde" frames his nephew for treason, but "Darnay" will be defended by barrister "C. J. Stryver", portrayed by Reginald Owen, and his very proficient but cynical colleague "Sydney Carton". The main witness against "Darnay" is the paid-off by the Marquis, "Barsad", portrayed by Walter Catlett. "Carton" meets "Barsad" and goes drinking with him and tricks the witness into admitting he framed "Darnay". At the trial, "Barsad" sees who "Sydney Carton" really is and recants his testimony to save himself, and "Charles Darnay" is set free.

Both "Carton" and "Darnay" fall in love with "Lucie", "Charles" admits to "Dr. Manette" that he is the nephew of the "Marquis St. Evremonde", The doctor forgives him of any ties to his uncle, but as to "Charles's" love of "Lucie", the doctor reserves the right to tell her about "Darnay" himself.

"Carton" attempts to win the love of "Lucie", but she will marry "Darnay", and have a daughter, also named "Lucie". 

Next, the French Revolution will break out, and the screenplay proceeds forward, as "Madame De Farge" knits at "Madame Guillotine", 

"Charles Darnay" is tricked into returning to France, arrested and found guilty after his real last name is revealed. This will lead to "Carton" going to France and switching places with him, because of "Sydney's" love for "Lucie". As he faces "Madame Guillotine", a condemned and innocent seamstress, portrayed by Isabel Jewll, who knows he is not "Charles Darnay", takes comfort in his bravery and stands by his side. "Sydney Carton" now speaks the famous last lines of Charles Dickens' novel:


It's a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It's a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.

 CAPTAIN BLOOD released December 28, 1935

The motion picture was directed by Michael Curtiz, whose latest film had been the crime comedy, 1935's, "Little Big Shot". Curtiz followed this movie with 1936's, "The Walking Dead", starring Boris Karloff. Most fans of Michael Curtiz think of this movie, the next I will mention, and both 1942's, "Casablanca", and "Yankee Doodle Dandy", but not horror movies. His resume includes the first two technicolor horror movies, both co-starring Lionel Atwill, and Fay Wray, 1932's, "Dr. X", and 1933's, "The Mystery of the Wax Museum",

This screenplay was by Casey Robinson and based upon the novel by Rafael Sabatini.

The Swashbucklers and a Few Others:

Errol Flynn portrayed "Doctor/Captain Peter Blood". Many people believe this was British actor Errol Flynn's first motion picture and they would be wrong on both counts. First, Flynn was Australian not British, second, his first motion picture was about the mutiny of the Bounty. That was the 1933 Australian feature film, "In the Wake of the Bounty", with Flynn portraying "Fletcher Christian". For those interested in that motion picture and others, my article is, ""The Mutiny on the 'HMAV (His Majesty's Armed Vessel) Bounty' in Motion Pictures", available to be read at:

In actuality, by the time Errol Flynn filmed "Captain Blood", he had been in five motion pictures and two short subjects. Including Michael Curtiz's, 1935, "The Case of the Curious Bride", and followed this feature with Curtiz's 1936, "The Charge of the Light Brigade".

Olivia de Havilland portrayed "Arabella Bishop". This was de Havilland's fourth motion picture and she had just been in the 1935 version of English playwright William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", with James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Dick Powell, Joe E. Brown and others.
Olivia de Havilland's next motion picture would have her co-starring with Fredric March and Donald Woods, in 1936's, "Anthony Adverse".

Lionel Atwill portrayed "Colonel Bishop". Atwill had just been in director Tod Browning's 1935, "Mark of the Vampire", the remake of Browning's silent 1927, "London After Midnight", starring Lon Chaney. Lionel Atwill would follow this feature with 1936's, "Lady of Secrets".

Basil Rathbone portrayed French pirate "Levasseur". Rathbone followed this feature with the comedy drama, 1936's, "Private Numbers", co-starring with Robert Taylor and Loretta Young. That film would be followed with the role of "Tybalt - Nephew to Lady Capulet", in the 1936 version of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet".

Above, J. Carrol Nash portraying "Cahusac" and Basil Rathbone.

Ross Alexander
portrayed "Jeremy Pitt, Blood's friend and navigator". This was only Alexander's tenth of seventeen film roles. Ross Alexander died on January 2, 1937, at the age of twenty-nine.

Guy Kibbee portrayed "Henry Hagthrope, Master Gunner". Character actor Kibbee started on-screen in 1929. In 1936, he was in Freddie Bartholomew's, "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and had the title role in Shirley Temple's "Captain January". Back in 1933, he was in the James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell's, "Footlight Parade", and in 1934, Guy Kibbee was in the cast of Al Jolson's "Wonder Bar".

The Basic Story:

In 1685 England, physician "Dr. Peter Blood" is summoned to the house of "Lord Gildoy", portrayed by David Cavendish billed as Dennis D. Auburn, in need of medical treatment from being wounded as a participant in the "Monmouth Rebellion". Where a group of Protestants, led by James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, the eldest illegitimate son of the late King Charles II, King of Scotland and England, was attempting to overthrow the newly crowned King James II. The reason for the rebellion was that James was Catholic.

"Peter Blood" does not finish his treatment, before he is arrested. "Blood" and others are charged for treason against "King James II" and convicted in the court of "George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffrey, known as "The Hanging Judge", portrayed in this picture by Leonard Mudie, and sentenced to death.

However, "Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland", portrayed by Haliwell Hobbes, who represents the king, has "Peter Blood' and others transported to the West Indies to be sold into slavery. 

In Port Royal, "Dr. Peter Blood's" rebellious nature attracts "Arabella Bishop", the niece of the local military commander, "Colonel Bishop". She suggests "Blood" become the colony's needed doctor and he can treat the colony's "Governor Steed", portrayed by George Hassell. This gives "Dr. Blood", except at night, almost complete freedom of movement on Jamaica. 

"Blood" develops an escape plan for his fellow prisoners and himself. While he is developing an interest in "Arabella Bishop". "Colonel Bishop" becomes suspicious of "Blood" and has "Jeremy Pitt" flogged and left without food or water tied to a pole. "Dr. Blood" is about to meet a similar fate, when a Spanish galleon arrives and starts shelling Port Royal. "Peter Blood" leads his fellow prisoners onto the galleon and they sail away into a life of piracy under "Captain Blood". At sea, he dictates to "Jeremy" a set of rules for his crew including the division of the spoils.

"Peter Blood" teams up with another pirate, the French "Captain Levasseur", while "Governor Steed" is unable to control the pirate situations and "Colonel Bishop" becomes the new governor of Jamaica. "Bishop" sends his niece "Arabella" back to England and three-years-later, she returns. Her ship is attacked by "Levasseur" and "Arabella Bishop" is taken prisoner along with royal emissary "Lord Willoughby", portrayed by Henry Stephenson, below. "Captain  Blood" and his crew meet "Captain Levasseur" and his crew and the Frenchman wants to hold "Arabella" and "Lord Willoughby" for ransom. "Peter" convinces "Levasseur" to sell the two to him. Even after accepting "Blood's" payment for his two prisoners, the Frenchman still objects to not holding them for ransom. One thing leads to another, and Basil Rathbone finally is able to show off his military trained swordsmanship in a duel with Errol Flynn.

"Blood" now orders the ship to sail to Port Royal, knowing the danger to him and his crew, and are stopped with the sight of French ships attacking the port without any defense coming from the shore. It is apparent to "Peter Blood" that "Colonel Bishop's" obsession with capturing him has left the port undefended. "Lord Willoughby" asks "Blood" to fight the French, but receives a reply from the crew and their captain that they will not fight for "King James II". At which point, "Lord Willoughby" informs them that "James" is no longer on the throne. He was kicked out of England and fled to France, and good "King William Henry", now "William III", aka: "William of Orange", rules. 

Having "Arabella" and "Lord Willoughby" taken to a safe place shore, "Captain Peter Blood" has the French flag raised and attacks the French ships, lowering that flag and raising the Union Jack, winning the day. "Colonel Bishop" is arrested for deserting his post in the time of war and meets the new governor of Jamacia, "Doctor Peter Blood", who also gets "Arabella Bishop" to admit that she has always been in love with him.

Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland would be back again with Basil Rathbone

Rathbone had appeared in six roles since following "Captain Blood", as Shakespeare's "Tybalt", and then came another feature from director Michael Curtiz.

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD premiered in New York City on May 12, 1938

Director Michael Curtiz had just released the forgotten, 1938, "Gold Is Where You Find It", starring George Brent, Olivia de Havilland, and Claude Rains. After this picture, Curtiz directed Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Rosalind Russell in the comedy romance, 1938's, "Four's a Crowd".

Three Villains, Two Good Guys, and a Lady:

Errol Flynn
portrayed "Sir Robin of Locksley aka: Robin Hood". Flynn was not the first choice for the role. That had actually gone to James Cagney, but in a 1935 contract dispute, he walked out of "Warner Brothers", and for three-years the film stayed uncast until Errol Flynn. 

Flynn had just been in Michael Curtiz's 1937, comedy romance, "The Perfect Specimen", co-starring Joan Blondell.

Olivia de Havilland portrayed "Maid Marian". Olivia de Havilland was the second actress to be considered for the role. The first choice of the studio was Anita Louise, she had been fifth-billed in the Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power, 1938, "Marie Antoinette", and would co-star with Shirley Temple, and Richard Greene, in 1939's, "The Little Princess". Olivia de Havilland only got the role, because of the box office potential of reuniting Errol Flynn  and the actress with the publicity that would be gained from 1935's, "Captain Blood", re-release.

Olivia de Havilland was just in the above mentioned "Gold Is Where You Find It".

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Sir Guy of Gisbourne". Basil had just co-starred with Gary Cooper in 1938's, "The Adventures of Marco Polo". After this film, he would be reunited with Roland Colman in 1938's, "If I Were King".

Claude Rains portrayed "Prince John". Rains had just been seen in "Gold Is Where You Find It", and followed this feature with 1938's, "Four Daughters", co-starring with John Garfield and Jeffrey Lynn. My article on the actor's career, "----CLAUDE RAINS WAS THE INVISIBLE MAN ---", can materialize at:

Alan Hale, Sr. portrayed "Little John". Besides this version of the Robin Hood legend, Hale had first portrayed "Little John" in Douglas Fairbanks', 1922, "Robin Hood", and then played the character for a third-time in the John Derek, 1950, "Rogues of Sherwood Forest".

Below, Hale in 1922 and with John Derek in 1950:

Melville Cooper portrayed the "High Sheriff of Nottingham". Cooper had just been seen in the Kay Francis and Pat O'Brien 1938 drama, "Women Are Like That", and followed this feature film with the 1938 musical comedy, "Gold Diggers in Paris", starring Rudy Vallee and Rosemary Lane.

The Screenplay was based upon the Robin Hood Legends:

Norman, "King Richard I aka: Le quor de lion (Richard the Lion Hearted)" had been fighting in the Third Crusade, but was captured upon sailing back to England and imprisoned in 1192 by "Duke Leopold V" of Austria. Richard had left the then, "Prince John", his brother, to oversee England until his return.

Saxon, "Sir Robin of Lockesley" opposes "John's" rule and the taxation of the Saxon farmers. Standing firm with "Prince John" is the evil Norman, "Sir Guy of Gisbourne". "Lockesley" kills a deer in the King's forest, Sherwood, and deliberately brings it to a banquet being held by "Prince John" for the Norman landowners. 

There, "Lockesley" accuses "Prince John" of treason against his brother and England. When "John" declared himself regent, in short, making ""Prince John", "King John of England", without being crowned. At the banquet is "Richard's" ward, "Maid Marian".

As a result of killing a "King's Deer" and his accusation against him, "John" declares Saxon, "Robin of Lockesley's" lands forfeit and "Lockesley" the traitor. "Robin" escapes to Sherwood Forest, organizes the "Outlaws", actually those farmers being oppressed by "Prince John" and "Gisbourne" and losing their farms to taxes they would never be able to afford. 

"John" has been using the weak "Sheriff of Nottingham" to enforce his tyranny against the Saxon's. "Robin" of Lockesley, because of the clothing he wears, is now known as "Robin Hood".

"Sir Guy" and the Sheriff are escorting "Marian" through the Sherwood Forest and are taken prisoner, for sport, by "Robin Hood" and the Sherwood Forest outlaws.

It is in the camp of the outlaws, that "Marian" realizes the truth about "Prince John" and "Sir Guy" and falls in love with "Robin Hood".

The story progresses as in all "Robin Hood" stories, and unknown to "Robin", is that the Norman traveler by his side that he has "invited" to dinner. is the escaped "Richard the Lion Hearted", portrayed by Ian Hunter.

Revealing himself, "King Richard" and "Sir Robin of Lockesley" join forces and go to the castle. 

There "Prince John" begs forgiveness, "Robin" and "Sir Guy" have a sword fight ending with "Gisbourne's" death, and with his estates restored, "Marian" and "Robin" are married.

It is the sword fight between Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn, that out did their fight in 1935's, "Captain Blood", and is still considered the classic motion picture sword fight sequence on film.

On July 21, 1991, Walt Disney Pictures, released "The Rocketeer". In it, Timothy Dalton portrays an Errol Flynn type actor, "Neville Sinclair", but is a Nazi spy. Flynn biographer, Charles Higham's "Errol Flynn: The Untold Story", goes into that actual claim about Flynn in detail. 

In "The Rocketeer", "Neville Sinclair" is making an unnamed movie that is very obviously Errol Flynn's, "The Adventures of Robin Hood". One of the scenes being filmed is a copy of the sword fight between Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn, below. It should be noted that the year in the screenplay for "The Rocketeer" is 1938!

If 1935 established Basil Rathbone as a screen presence worth watching. Then two of his six 1939 motion pictures would start to immortalize the actor in the world's minds in a singular role.
Having just appeared with Errol Flynn and a young British actor named David Niven, in the First World War aircraft story, 1938's, "The Dawn Patrol". Basil Rathbone went to "Universal Pictures" for the studios third entry in a horror franchise portraying the title role in:

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN released on January 13 1939

The feature was directed by Rowland V. Lee. Lee started out as an actor in 1917 and had appeared in 12 silent films through 1920. He switched to screenplay writing in 1921 and wrote his 14th and final script in 1959, with the biblical story, "The Big Fisherman", starring Howard Keel and John Saxton. In 1920, Roland Lee directed his first feature film and when he directed his last feature film, the 1945, Charles Laughton and Randolph Scott, "Captain Kid", his total was 58 directed motion pictures.  Besides "The Big Fisherman", Lee had produced 15 feature films including this picture and both of Warner Oland's, "Fu Manchu" movies, 1929's, "The Mysterious Fu Manchu", and 1930's, "The Return of Fu Manchu". 

This screenplay was suggested by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus", and written by Wyllis Cooper, writing as Willis Cooper. He had co-written three of Peter Lorre's, "Mr. Moto" detective films, and created the story for the Bela Lugosi, 1939, cliff-hanger, "The Phantom Creeps".

The Three Stars:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Baron Wolf von Frankenstein". In the first two motion pictures of the series, Colin Clive portrayed "Henry Frankenstein" and not "Henry von Frankenstein". In 1942's, "The Ghost of Frankenstein", Sir Cedric Hardwicke is just "Ludwig Frankenstein".

Basil Rathbone's next role would be one of the two I mention as immortalizing the actor.

Boris Karloff portrayed "The Monster". This was William Henry Pratt aka: Boris Karloff aka: Karloff's third and final time to portray "Henry", not Shelley's "Victor", Frankenstein's" creation. The actor had just been seen in 1939's, "Devil's Island", and would follow this feature film with another in his "Mr. Wong Detective" series, 1939's, "The Mystery of Mr. Wong". Like Peter Lorre portraying the Japanese detective "Mr.  Moto", Boris Karloff also played an Asian detective in a film series. My article, "Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Warner Oland, Sidney Toler: '3' Famous Asian Literary Detectives Portrayed by Non-Asian Actors", will be found at:

Bela Lugosi portrayed "Ygor". Lugosi was just seen in 1939's, "The Phantom Creeps", and followed this feature film with 1939's, "The Dark Eyes of London" aka: "The Human Monster".
Bela would play "Ygor" again in the fourth "Frankenstein" entry, but even with the events immediately following this story, as I indicated, "The Ghost of Frankenstein" wasn't until 1942.

Three Supporting Roles:

Lionel Atwill
portrayed "Inspector Krogh". Atwill had just been seen in 1938's, "The Great Waltz" and would follow this feature with the 1939 comedy version of French author Alexander Dumas', "The Three Musketeers", starring Don Ameche, and the comedy team of "The Ritz Brothers".

Josephine Hutchinson portrayed "Elsa von Frankenstein". She had just co-starred with Ralph Bellamy in 1938's, "The Crime of Doctor Hallet", and followed this film with the Madeleine Carroll and Louis Hayward, 1940, "My Son, My Son!".

Donnie Dunagan portrayed "Peter von Frankenstein". Dunagan had only seven roles on-film, one was the voice of the "Young Bambi", for Walt Disney. Another was as a "Young Prince", in 1939's, "The Tower of London".

The Basic Scream-play:

"Wolf von Frankenstein" takes his wife and son back to the family castle to redeem his father's reputation, but other than "Inspector Krogh", whose left arm was "ripped out at the roots" by "Henry Frankenstein's" monster when he was a child, the villagers want nothing to do with him. "Krogh's" arm in an interesting plot point, because the character or attack isn't in either the screenplay for 1931's, "Frankenstein", or 1935's, "The Bride of Frankenstein". Also of interest, is that the inspector is a sympathetic character toward "Wolf".

Investigating the castle grounds, "Wolf" meets "Ygor", who explains his broken neck was a result of a failed hanging over "alleged" graverobbing by him. "Ygor" takes "Wolf von Frankenstein" to meet "his brother", the monster, because they both have the same father. The monster can no longer speak and has somehow survived the explosion of "Henry Frankenstein's" lab at the end of the 1935 feature. In fact, the monster is in the ruins of that castle tower like laboratory.

What follows is "Ygor" stirring "Wolf's" curiosity about his father's creation and the restoring the monster to full life.

"Ygor" now uses the monster to kill those who convicted him of graverobbing. "Wolf" is sure "Ygor" is behind the murders, but "Inspector Krogh" thinks otherwise. 

The monster had befriended "Peter von Frankenstein", at the climax, he kidnaps the boy, and takes him to the sulfur pit located under the tower "Henry Frankenstein" used as a laboratory, even though it was never mentioned in either previous film. 


"Wolf" and "Inspector Krogh" go after the monster to save "Peter". "Krogh" finds the monster and "Peter" first, but the monster rips off "Inspector Krogh's" fake left arm as he was taking aim with a pistol.

The monster puts "Peter" down, and unexpectedly, "Wolf" swings in on a chain pushing the monster into the sulfur pit and rescues his son. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had killed off the "World's First Consulting Detective" in the December 1893 issue of "The Strand Magazine". He didn't want to write anymore about the character and wanted to write other stories. Such as his "Professor Challenger" series, his history of "The Boer War", and works on his interest in Spiritualism that got Conan Doyle into a friendly battle with Harry Houdini. 

However, the public and his publisher wanted more about "Sherlock Holmes".

It would take eight-years, before Conan Doyle gave in. In August 1901, the first part of a new mystery, considered by many as a horror story, appeared in "The Strand Magazine", and would conclude in April 1902. To get around the death of "Holmes", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set the story back in 1889, but he pulled a fast-one on the worldwide reading public. The main character was "Dr. John H. Watson" and not "Sherlock Holmes"! Who basically was at the stories start and reappears at its climax to solve the mystery.

  THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES released on March 31, 1939

My article on the writing and film history of the novel, "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES on the Motion Picture and Television Screens 1914-2016", can be found at:

The director had once been a jazz musician and a star vaudevillian. In 1926, Sidney Lanfield, was hired by the "Fox Film Corporation", nine-years before they merged with "20th Century Studios", as a gag writer. He wrote five short stories and worked on seven feature films as a screenplay writer. His first position as a director was in 1930 and Sidney Lanfield specialized in romances and light comedies. Just before this feature, he directed the 1938, Barbara Stanwyck and Herbert Marshall comedy romance, "Always Goodbye", and followed this picture with the 1939, musical comedy, "Second Fiddle", starring Sonja Henie, Tyrone Power, and Rudy Vallee.

The screenplay was by Ernest Pascal, he was the only writer on the production. However, he was one of seven writers for the 1938, version of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson's, "Kidnapped", starring Warner Baxter and Freddie Bartholomew. After this screenplay, Pascal was again one of seven writers on the 1939, "Stanley and Livingstone", co-starring Spencer Tracy, Nancy Kelly, and Richard Greene.

Ernest Pascal's screenplay was the first "Sherlock Holmes" motion picture actually set in Victorian England.

Seven Actors and Seven Roles:

Richard Greene
portrayed "Sir Henry Baskerville". Greene had just co-starred in the Shirley Temple, 1939, "The Little Princess" with Anita Louise. He followed this motion picture with 1939's, "Stanley and Livingstone". From 1955 through 1960, Richard Greene starred in televisions "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Sherlock Holmes" for the first time. Rathbone followed this motion picture with the 1939 drama, "The Sun Never Sets", co-starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Virginia Field.

Wendy Barrie portrayed "Beryl Stapleton". She had just co-starred with George Sanders in 1939's, "The Saint Strikes Back". After this motion picture, Wendy Barrie co-starred with Chester Morris and Lucille Ball, in one of her rare dramatic roles, in 1939's, "Five Came Back", about a plane crashing in a jungle full of cannibals. 

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson", late of "Her Majesty's Army Medical Corps". Bruce had previously been in the aforementioned 1938, "Kidnapped", and just prior to this motion picture, 1938's, "Suez", starring Tyrone Power and Loretta Young.

Bruce's characterization of "Dr. Watson" had a prototype by the actor in producer Merian C. Cooper's, 1935 version of British author H. Rider Haggard's, "SHE". In that feature, Nigel Bruce portrayed "Horace Holly" to Randolph Scott's, "Leo Vincey" in the same manner his "Watson" is portrayed to Basil Rathbone's "Sherlock Holmes" in this feature and others.

Lionel Atwill portrayed "James Mortimer, M.D.". Atwill bookmarked this feature film with the previously mentioned, 1939, Ritz Brothers comedy version of "The Three Musketeers" and followed it with the Ritz Brothers, 1939 horror comedy, "The Gorilla".

John Carradine portrayed "Barryman". Carradine had also just been seen in the "Ritz Brothers", 1939, "The Three Musketeers", and followed this feature film with an unusual American Western made by producer and director Hal Roach". The setting is New South Wales, Australia, and 1939's, "Captain Fury", starred British actor Brian Aherne and Victor MacLaglen.

On the above lobby card are Basil Rathbone, Eily Malyon portraying "Mrs. Barryman", John Carradine, and Richard Greene.

Mary Gordon portrayed "Mrs. Hudson". The forgotten character actress Mary Gordon would portray the landlady for "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" throughout Rathbone and Bruce's films. She had started acting in 1925, and when she appeared in her last role on the 1950's, television series, "The Cisco Kid". Mary Gordon had 308th roles to here credit

The Basic Compressed Screenplay, like all the screenplays there are changes to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel:

"Mrs. Hudson" brings "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" a walking stick left by a gentleman looking for the two while they were out.  She leaves, and "Watson" proceeds to deduce who the stick belongs too, at the request of "Holmes", only to get it wrong.

Enter, "Dr. Mortimer", who has come to London to meet the last of the "Baskerville's", "Sir Henry", from Canada, and relates, in flashback, the legend of "The Hound of Hell, the Hound of the Baskervilles". In which, hundreds of years before, the ghostly hound first killed the evil "Sir Hugo Baskerville", portrayed by Ralph Forbes, for his abduction and sexual use of a local peasant girl.

Next, according to "Dr. Mortimer", the now, "Baskerville Hound", reappeared and killed "Sir Charles Baskerville", portrayed by Ian Maclaren, also told in flashback, as part of the family curse. Additionally, "Mortimer" found giant paw prints near the body. "Sherlock Holmes" calls the "Curse of the Baskervilles" pure fantasy, but meets with "Sir Henry". Unfortunately, "Holmes" has unfinished business in London he must complete, but suggests that "Dr. Watson" accompany the other two to Baskerville Hall and keep in touch with "Holmes" in London.

Exit, "Sherlock Holmes" from most of the story that follows,

When the three first arrive at "Baskerville Hall" ---

--- they first meet the family butler, "Barrymore", and his wife. 

Taking a walk, the following morning, toward the "Grimpen Mire", the moors, "Dr. Watson" will meet both "Sir Henry's" neighbor, "John Stapleton", portrayed by Morton Lowry, a local naturalist, and his half-sister, "Beryl". 

"Sir Henry" and "Beryl" will start a small romance shortly after meeting each other. 

While at the house, in the middle of the night, both "Watson" and "Sir Henry" come out of their rooms, having heard crying at the end of the hall. It comes from a closed room and they enter to find "Barryman" with a lite candle, who states he is just checking the house as is his practice. He leaves, but for the moment it seems a light on the "Grimpen Mire" was seen by both men, a response?

Another neighbor "Sir Henry" and "Dr. Watson" meet is the strange "Frankland", portrayed by Barlowe Borland, who collects butterflies and other insects. He also claims to be an authority on local legends and dabbles in paleontology. Both "Sir Henry" and "Dr, Watson" are invited to his home.

Word comes that a homicidal manic named "Selden", portrayed by Nigel De Brulier, has escaped Dartmoor prison and believed to be hiding somewhere upon the moor. 

"Dr. Watson" goes for a walk on the road from "Baskerville Hall", comes across "Beryl Stapleton" and "Sir Henry", and learns the two are to be married. Just then, a strange looking peddler comes up to the three and attempts to sell them odd things in a case he carries. After finding out they're not interested, the peddler leaves, followed by "Sir Henry" and "Beryl", Leaving a confused "Dr. John H. Watson" over the quickness of "Sir Henry's" marriage proposal and "Beryl Stapleton's" acceptance of it and deciding he must send "Sherlock Holmes" another message.

That night the baying of a hound is heard, and both "Watson" and "Sir Henry" have come together again in response to another light on the "Grimpen Mire". "Holmes" told "Dr. Watson" to confine "Sir Henry" only to the main house at night, but the two go together toward the moor and go in different directions to search.

"Watson" now meets the peddler and with his drawn gun confronts him.

Only to discover he's "Sherlock Holmes" who followed "Dr. Watson", "Sir Henry", and "Dr. Mortimer" to Dartmoor on the very next train. As "Holmes" changes clothes, he fills "Watson" in on what he has been doing, including meeting "Seldon", and "Watson" fills the other in. Just then, the baying of the hound stops as in the distance it sounds as if the hound is attacking someone. 

"Holmes" and "Watson" find a body they believe, because of the clothing is "Sir Henry", but it turns out to be "Seldon" wearing the other's clothing.

Back at "Baskerville Hall", "Sherlock Holmes", meets "Sir Henry" once more and asks "Barrymore" to bring his wife to the room, as he explains his presence to "Sir Henry". "Mrs. Barrymore" arrives and "Holmes" tells her the sad news that her brother, "Seldon" was killed by the hound. Now, both "Dr. Watson" and "Sir Henry" learn that the candle used by "Barrymore" was to signal "Seldon" that it was safe to come to "Baskerville Hall". There, his sister had prepared a meal for him while everyone else slept. The clothing he had been wearing was old clothes "Sir Henry" no longer wanted and, unfortunately, had "Sir Henry's" scent on them. 

After, again speaking to "Sir Henry", he is shown to a room for the night.


The following evening, psychic medium, "Mrs. Jennifer Mortimer", portrayed by Beryl Mercer, holds a séance to contact "Sir Charles Baskerville". Several people that "Watson" met before "Holmes" arrival are present.

The main question asked is for "Sir Charles" to reveal what happened the night he was killed on the moor? The answer comes in the baying of the "Hound of the Baskervilles". "Sherlock Holmes" isn't a believer in spiritualism, but the séance gives him a chance to observe all the suspects and confirm his number one.

"Sir Henry" goes out into the night to meet "Beryl Stapleton", but instead is stalked by the hound, cornered, and attacked, but "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" had followed him and shoot and kill the hound.

"Watson" is told to take "Sir Henry" back to "Baskerville Hall" and "Sherlock Holmes" goes after the owner of the starved hound, "John Stapleton". "Holmes" is trapped in the kennel that "Stapleton" used, but escapes. He returns to "Baskerville Hall" in time to stop "Sir Henry" from drinking the poison "Stapleton" had given him as a natural medication to help him recover from the hound's attack. "John Stapleton" pulls out a gun and runs out of the house and "Sherlock Holmes" remarks:
He won't get very far. I've posted constables along the roads and the only other way is across the Grimpen Mire

The Changed Ending from the novel: 

"Beryl Stapleton" is in fear of what "Holmes" and the authorities will do for her part in attempting to kill "Sir Henry". "Sir Henry" is very supportive of her and is still in love with "Beryl". "Holmes" tells "Beryl" that she was used by her step-brother, nothing is her fault, and his investigation showed she was not related to the "Baskerville" family in any way.

"Sherlock Holmes" tells "Sir Henry", "Beryl, "Dr. Mortimer" and his wife, and "Dr. Watson" that having looked at the picture of "Sir Hugo", he realized that "John Stapleton" was a relative of the "Baskerville" family. "Stapleton" was using a starved hound to kill off the remaining two members of the family by playing off the "Curse of the Baskervilles". 

After "Sir "Henry" was killed by the hound, "John Stapleton" would open a claim to the title and properties of the family. The film ends with "Beryl" and "Sir Henry" free to love one another and marry.

The ending is changed by the fact that in the novel, "Beryl Stapleton" is actually the wife of "Jack", not "John Stapleton". "Beryl" is found tied up at the home she and her husband lived in beside the Grimpen Mire by "Holmes" and "Watson". It is "Beryl" that states that "Jack" probably fled into Grimpen Mire and disappeared. 

For Basil Rathbone, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" would be followed by the previously mentioned "The Sun Never Sets" co-starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and that picture would move into obscurity. However, "20th Century Fox" knew a money maker when they saw it and for Basil Rathbone his next released motion picture was:

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES released on September 1, 1939

The motion picture was directed by Alfred L. Werker. Between 1917 and 1926, he was either a Second Unit, or Assistant Director. Werker directed his first of three western feature films in 1928, the silent, "Pioneer Scout", starring the forgotten major silent screen cowboy, Fred Thomson. In 1934, Alfred Werker directed George Arliss, Loretta Young, Boris Karloff, and Robert Young, in the biographical "The House of Rothchild". He was one of the two directors, the other Otto Preminger on his first English language motion picture, of the previously mentioned 1938, "Kidnapped". He would follow this feature film by directing the live action segments of Walt Disney's, 1941, "The Reluctant Dragon".

The writing of the screenplay is interesting and the credits state it was based upon characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but not any story written by him.

The credits also state the screenplay was based upon the 1899 play, "Sherlock Holmes" written by and starring American William Gillette. Gillette actually created "Holmes" wearing a deerstalker cap, it was more striking on stage than Conan Doyle's described hats. William Gillette also created "Sherlock Holmes" using a curved meerschaum pipe, not Conan Doyle's cherry wood strait pipe. The meerschaum permitted Gillette's lines to be heard by the audience. After his London appearance, "The Strand Magazine" artist, Sidney Paget, changed the look of "Sherlock Holmes" to that of William Gillette.

Above, "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" before William Gillette. Below, William Gillette and Paget's "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson", after the London play run.

Film credits aside, the screenplay for "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", was not based upon William Gillette's play and other than "Holmes and Watson", there is only one other character seen in the play. That is the young "Baker Street Irregular", "Billy", trivia time, played in London by 12-years-old, Charlie Chaplin.

There are two names given for writing the actual screenplay, Edwin Blum was another of the seven writers for 1938's, "Kidnapped", and one of the seven writers for 1939's, "Stanley and Livingstone", in 1953, Blum, co-wrote with director Billy Wilder, "Stalag 17".

The second screenplay writer was William Absalom Drake, who had only nine screenplays to his credit and this was his eighth. He also was one of the seven writers for "Stanley and Livingstone".

The Four Leading Actors Plus Three:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Rathbone followed this film with 1939's, "Rio", a crime drama co-starring Victor MacLaglen.

Nigel Bruce
portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson". Bruce followed this feature film with 1939's, "The Rains Came", starring Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, and George Brent.

Ida Lupino portrayed "Ann Brandon". The future motion picture director, writer, and producer, Lupino, had just been seen in the action-adventure comedy, 1939's, "The Lady and the Mob", co-starring with Fay Bainter and Lee Bowman. She would follow this feature co-starring with Ronald Colman and Walter Huston in director William Wellman's, 1939, version of Rudyard Kipling's, "The Light That Failed". My article, "IDA LUPINO: Singer, Actress, Screenplay Writer, and Director", may be found at:

Note: As many of the following stills show, Basil Rathbone as "Sherlock Holmes", rarely wears the above deerstalker hat and stays more to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's description of him. 

Alan Marshall portrayed "Jerrold Hunter". Marshall had just portrayed Maureen O'Hara's love interest in the 1939 version of French author Victor Hugo's, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", starring Charles Laughton. For fans of gimmick director William Castle, Alan Marshall was "Dr. David Trent", in 1959's, original, "House on Haunted Hill", starring Vincent Price.

Terry Kilburn portrayed "Billy". Kilburn had just been in the Lewis Stone and Mickey Rooney, 1939, "Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever", and followed this picture with the 1939 comedy crime sports feature, 1939's, "The Arsenal Stadium Mystery", starring Leslie Banks.

George Zucco portrayed "Professor Moriarty". Zucco had just been seen in 1939's, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", and followed this feature with the drama, 1939's, "Here I Am a Stranger", starring Richard Greene, Richard Dix, and Brenda Joyce.

Mary Gordon portrayed "Mrs. Hudson". She is seen below with Terry Kilburn. There is a very good article about the character of "Mrs. Hudson" by Michelle Birkby at:

The Basic Story Line:

The story is set in 1894, technically five-years after the events in "The Hound of the Baskervilles", and opens on the steps of the "Old Bailey (the "Central Criminal Court of England and Wales)", pictured below. "Sherlock Holmes" and "Professor Moriarty" are in an argument that they will carry into a shared cab, because of the heavy rain.

"Professor Moriarty" has just been acquitted on a charge of murder, because of lack of evidence that he was involved. 

"Sherlock Holmes: 
You have a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I admire it so much I'd like to present it, pickled in alcohol, to the London Medical Society.

"Professor Moriarty":

It would make an impressive exhibit.

"Professor Moriarty" plans to divert "Sherlock Holmes" from "The Crime of the Century" involving "The Crown Jewels of England" and the emerald jewel known as the "Star of Delhi" meant to join them. To accomplish his goal, he sets two diversions for the consulting detective. 

First, he sends a letter to "Sir Ronald Ramsgate", portrayed by Henry Stephenson, the "Guardian of the Crown Jewels" and "Constable of the Tower of London". The letter states that the "Star of Delhi" will never reach the tower and this sends "Sir Ronald" to seek assistance from "Sherlock Holmes". "Ramsgate" goes to 221-B Baker Street, and meets with "Holmes", asking the consulting detective to be present when the "Star of Delhi" is delivered and "Holmes" agrees. 

"Sir Ronald Ramsgate" leaves and almost immediately, "Mary Brandon" arrives for help. The second diversion of "Professor Moriarty". Her brother "Lloyd Brandon", portrayed by Peter Willes, received a strange note: a drawing of a man with an albatross hanging around his neck, identical to the note her father received ten-years ago, before he was brutally murdered.

Enter the family solicitor and "Ann's" fiancé, "Jerrold Hunter", who believes "Mary" is being to melodramatic. "Holmes" disagrees with "Hunter", and takes "Ann's" case. "Sherlock Holmes" sends "Watson" to watch "Jerrold Hunter" without being seen. 

"Dr. Watson" reports back that he has seen "Hunter" with "Professor Moriarty". Next, "Lloyd Brandon" is murdered and standing over the body is "Jerrold Hunter". "Inspector Bristol of Scotland Yard", portrayed by E. E. Clive, now accuses "Hunter" of clubbing the other to death.

Examining the body, "Holmes" deduces that "Lloyd Brandon" was not clubbed to death, but strangled. He agrees to work with "Inspector Bristol", if he lets "Hunter" go. Very shortly after the above, the upset "Sir Ronald Ramsgate" visits 221-B and finds "Sherlock Holmes" overly engaged in the murder of "Lloyd Brandon". "Holmes" promises to be at the tower at 10 PM the next evening. 

"Ann" receives a death threat for the  next evening, the night of "Lady Conynham's" , portrayed by Mary Forbes, dinner party. "Sherlock Holmes" cannot be in two places at the same time. "Holmes" delegates "Dr. Watson" to watch the "Star of Delhi", and he will watch "Mary Brandon" at the dinner party.

The next day, "Professor Moriarty" shaves off his beard in anticipation of finally getting the better of "Sherlock Holmes", At the tower, "Sir Ronald" is furious over "Holmes" sending "Dr. Watson" and not being there himself. When a police sergeant and his men arrive to guard the "Star of Delhi".

When the "Star of Delhi" arrives, "Sir Ronald" opens the case containing "The Crown Jewels", the lights go off, confusion and chaos reigns, the light comes on and the police and the emerald are missing. Then the "Star of Delhi" is discovered on the floor, apparently dropped by the police, "Sir Ronald" places it in the case with the other "Crown Jewels", puts the case back in its secure place, and leaves. "Professor Moriarty", the police sergeant, emerges from hiding and takes the case containing England's crown jewels and leaves the tower.

Meanwhile, at "Lady Conynham's" party, "Ann Brandon" awaits the coming of midnight and the passing of her death sentence. There is a singer performing, it is of course, "Sherlock Holmes" in disguise.

"Hunter" comes to the party to be with "Ann", but is struck unconscious by a man using a bola. 

After missing "Ann" with the bola, "Sherlock Holmes" captures him, and the man named "Mateo", portrayed by George Regas, confesses that he was hired by "Professor Moriarty".

"Holmes" now goes to the apartment of "Professor Moriarty", after realizing the death threat to "Ann" was a diversion. Finding a guidebook to the "Tower of London", "Sherlock Holmes" guesses that his number one nemesis plans to steal the "Crown Jewels". 

"Sherlock Holmes" and "Professor Moriarty" confront each other and engage in combat on the roof of the "Tower of London" and "Moriarty" falls to his death. With the threat ended, "Mary" and "Jerrold" will be married and "Holmes" explains to "Watson" that as a diversion, "Moriarty" engaged "Hunter" in a lawsuit to throw him off.

By 1594, William Shakespeare published his play, "Richard III", in 1939,"Universal Pictures" released a somewhat historical horror movie version of Shakespeare's play with Basil Rathbone.

THE TOWER OF LONDON released November 17, 1939

The above poster's date is incorrect and the poster was basically to promote, with the newspaper reviewers and "Hollywood Trade Papers", the production.

The motion picture was directed by Roland V. Lee and reunited his two leads from that year's "Son of Frankenstein". Lee had just directed Rathbone and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in 1939's, "The Sun Never Sets", and would follow this feature with the Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, and George Sanders, 1940, "The Son of Monte Cristo".

Robert N. Lee wrote the screenplay and was the brother of the director. Lee was nominated for the "Best Screenplay, Academy Award" for 1931's, "Little Caesar", he had just written the Paul Robeson, 1937, "Jericho" aka: "Dark Sands", and would write, for his brother, 1945's, "Captain Kidd".

The Six Leading Actors and Four Others:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Richard, Duke of Gloucester/Richard III". Rathbone had just appeared in the film "Rio", and followed this feature with 1940's, "Rhythm of the River", a comedy musical, co-starring with Bing Crosby and Mary Martin, the original lead in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" and the title role of the Broadway musical, "Peter Pan".

Boris Karloff portrayed the created role of "Mord", "Richard's club-footed executioner". Karloff had just starred in a First World War spy thriller, 1939's, 'British Intelligence", directed by Terry O. Morse, the director of the Raymond Burr footage and the editor of that footage to turn the Japanese science fiction classic, 1954's, "Gojira", into the American monster on the loose, 1956, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters". Boris Karloff followed this feature film with 1940's, "The Fatal Hour", another of his features as the American Chinese detective, "James Lee Wong", see link above. 

Barbara O'Neil portrayed "Queen Elyzabeth (Elizabeth)". O'Neil had just co-starred with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne, in 1939's, "When Tomorrow Comes", and followed this feature film portraying the mother of Vivien Leigh's "Scarlett O'Hara", in 1939's, "Gone with the Wind".

Ian Hunter portrayed "King Edward IV". Hunter had just been in the musical drama, 1939's, "Bad Little Angel", and followed this film with the Fred Astaire and Eleanor Parker musical, 1940's, "Broadway Melody of 1940".

Vincent Price
portrayed the "Duke of Clarence". This was Vincent's third motion picture and it was immediately proceeded by the Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, 1939, "The Privates Lives of Elizabeth and Essex". Vincent Price would follow this film with the title role in 1940's, "The Invisible Man Returns".

Above, Vincent Price and Ian Hunter.

Nan Grey
portrayed "Lady Alice Barton". Grey had just been in the 1939 musical comedy, "The Under-Pup", co-starring with Gloria Jean and Robert Cummings. She would follow this feature with 1940's, "The Invisible Man Returns", co-starring with Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Vincent Price.

Ernest Cossart portrayed "Tom Clink". Character actor Cossart started out in movies in 1916. He had just been seen in 1939's, "Lady of the Tropics", starring Robert Taylor and Hedy Lamarr. He followed this feature film with 1939's, "The Light That Failed", starring Ronald Colman and Walter Huston.

John Sutton portrayed "John Wyatt". Sutton just had an uncredited role in 1939's, "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex", and followed this picture with the 1939 comedy, "Charlie McCarthy Detective", starring ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, followed by portraying "Doctor Frank Griffin" in 1940's, "The Invisible Man Returns".

Leo G. Carroll portrayed "Lord Hastings". Character actor Carroll had a distinguished career in several film genres. Among his varied roles include "Joseph" in director William Wyler's. 1939, version of Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights", starring Merle Oberon, Sir Laurence Olivier, and David Niven. "Dr. Baker" in director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1940, "Rebecca", starring Sir Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, and George Sanders, and also for Hitchcock, Carroll was seen in, 1941, "Suspicion", starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine, 1945's, "Spellbound", starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, and Alfred Hitchcock's, 1959, "North by Northwest", starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason. Not to forget portraying televisions "Topper", 1953-1955, portraying "Professor Gerald Deemer" in the 1955, cult science fiction, "Tarantula", or portraying "Alexander Waverly" on televisions "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.", 1964-1968, and in "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." 1966-1967.

Miles Mander portrayed "King Henry VI". Overlooked character actor Mander had just portrayed "Aramis" in director James Whale's version of French author Alexander Dumas', "The Man in the Iron Mask", starring Louis Hayward and Joan Bennett. In the 1940's, Miles Mander would appear in two of Basil Rathbone's "Sherlock Holmes" series. His other films included the George Sanders and Vincent Price, 1940, "The House of the Seven Gables", based on the Nathaniel Hawthorne story. The Carole Lombard and Jack Benny, comedy, 1942's, "To Be or Not to Be", the 1942 drama, "Lucky Jordan", starring Alan Ladd and Sheldon Leonard, 1942's, "The Phantom of the Opera", starring Claude Rains, Nelson Eddy, and Susana Foster. and 1943's, "The Return of the Vampire", starring Bela Lugosi, Frieda Inescort, and Nina Foch.

A Brief Synopsis of Murder for Power:

The year is 1483 and "Richard, the Duke of Gloucester" plays with dolls in a doll house, or is it a game of thrones? As he removes one doll, equaling one person in his way to becoming King of England. 

Here is a review of the motion picture from "Modern Screen" magazine, dated February 1940:
Tower of London

Here's a grim and grisly picture, if ever there was one. Some of the chillers of the Lugosi-Karloff school may be more lurid, but "Tower of London" will make your hair stand on end and the cold sweat break out just as surelyfor you'll suddenly realize that all the gruesome goings-on which are unwinding there on the screen, actually happened!

It's the story of Richard III of England, known as "Crookback" Richard to his pals. Torture and murder were to him what oatmeal was to his people—just an everyday occurrence. The King rode rough-shod over everything and every person who stood in his way to power—including his own flesh and blood. Basil Rathbone, portraying the ruthless Richard, gives a superb performance. Ian Hunter, in the role of King Edward VI, gives a sincere and believable characterization. Boris Karloff is right in there, too, with a role that must have made him shudder, himself. He's the crippled, bald-headed chief executioner by vocation, and Rathbone's stooge in the little leisure time allotted him. Barbara O'Neil, Vincent Prince, Ernest Cossart and Nan Grey deserve special mention. Outstanding throughout this picture is the wealth of pageantry and beauty in the background, and remarkable, too, is the fact that the story clings as closely as possible to actual history. directed by Rowland V. Lee.

"Richard" first arranges for "John Wyatt", who is in love with "Lady Alice Barton", and is a cousin of "Queen Elyzabeth", to be exiled to France.

"King Henry VI" is a weak monarch and "Richard" arranges for "Mord" to kill him. 

The young princes, "Edward V", 12-years-old, and "Richard" of Shrewsbury, "Duke of York", 9-years-old, come for a visit. The film implies that the "Duke of Gloucester" had them placed in the Tower. 

Below, the "Duke of Clarence" plotting with "King Edward IV".

"Richard" gets the "Duke of Clarence" drunk and with the help of "Mord" drowns him in a barrel full of wine. 

Meanwhile, "John Wyatt" returns to England to steal the royal treasure in the tower and bestow it on "Richard's" rival, "Henry Tudor", portrayed by Ralph Forbes, he is captured and tortured.

With the help of "Queen Elyzabeth" and "Lady Alice Barton", "John Wyatt" escapes the dungeon with the royal treasure and takes it to "Henry Tudor". In revenge, "Richard" orders "Mord" to kill the young princes in the tower.

"Henry Tudor" and his troops return from France and "The Battle of Bosworth Field" takes place ending with "Richard the Third's" death and his executioner "Mord".

It was time for Basil Rathbone to get in a little more fencing practice.

THE MARK OF ZORRO premiered in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 1, 1940

The character of "El Zorro (The Fox)" was created by Ottawa, Illinois, born Johnston McCulley, in his novel "The Curse of Capistrano". Which was first serialized in 1919, in "All-Weekly Magazine". My article, "ZORRO: On the Motion Picture and Television Screens", which looks at the character from the silents to 2009, can be read at:

The director was Rouben Mamoulian, 1931's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", starring "Academy Award Winning Best Actor", Fredric March, 1933, "Queen Christina", starring Greta Garbo, and 1939's, "Golden Boy", starring Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, and William Holden. Mamoulian followed this picture with 1941's, "Blood and Sand", starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Rita Hayworth.

Johnston McCulley's novel was turned into a screenplay by three writers. It took two writers, Garrett Fort, 1931's, "Dracula" and "Frankenstein", and Bess Meredyth, uncredited writer for director John Ford's, 1939, "Drums Along the Mohawk", and 1941, "The Unsuspected", starring Claude Rains and Audrey Totter, to adopt the novel for a screenplay.

The actual screenplay was from John Taintor Foote, the only writer. Immediately before this film,  Foote wrote the screenplay for 1939's, "Swanee River", starring Don Ameche, and Al Jolson. It wasn't until 1946, before John Taintor Foote co-wrote with director Alfred Hitchcock and Ben Hect, "Notorious", starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains.

The Four Leads:

Tyrone Power portrayed "Don Diego Vega/Zorro". Power had just appeared in 1940's, "Brigham Young", and followed this feature with the previously mentioned 1941, "Blood and Sand".

Linda Darnell portrayed "Lolita Quintero". Darnell had just been in 1940's, "Brigham Young", and followed this film with 1940's, "Chad Hanna", co-starring with Henry Fonda and Dorothy Lamour.

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Captain Esteban Pasquale". Rathbone followed this movie portraying a crazed doctor in the crime film-noir, 1940's, "The Mad Doctor", co-starring with Ellen Drew and John Howard.

Gail Sondergaard portrayed "Inez Quintero". Sondergaard had just been in Shirley Temple's, 1940, "The Blue Bird" with Spring Byington and Nigel Bruce. She followed this feature film with 1940's, "The Letter", starring Bette Davis. She would later appear in one of Basil Rathbone's, "Sherlock Holmes" films.

The Familiar Classic Screenplay:

"Don Diego Vega" is an excellent swordsman and cadet at a military school in Spain. He receives an urgent letter from his father the alcalde, municipal magistrate, of "El Pueblo de la Reina de los Angeles, to return home. Arriving he goes to the residence of the alcalde, but finds that his father is no longer alcalde and he assumes the role of the foppish "Don Diego". This puts at ease his two adversaries, the corrupt "Don Luis Quintero", portrayed by J. Edward Bromberg, and his malevolent and dangerous, "Captain Esteban Pasquale". 

Above, J. Edward Bromberg, Basil Rathbone, and Tyrone Power.

Arriving at his family rancho, "Diego's" father had assumed that his military trained son would go after "Luis Quintero" and "Captain Pasquale", but is disappointed at his foppish son.

Above, Eugene Pallette portraying "Friar Felipe", he was "Friar Tuck" in "The Adventures of Robin Hood". Next to him is Tyrone Power, Janet Beecher portraying "Senora Isabella Vega", and Montagu Love portraying "Don Alejandro Vega". 

To fight "Don Luis" and "Captain Pasquale", "Don Diego" creates the identity of "Zorro, the Fox" and starts fighting injustice. The only one that knows the truth is "Friar Felipe".

Two problems develop and they're both about love. The first is "Diego" falls for the niece of the alcalde, "Lolita Quintero". She isn't in love with him, but "El Zorro". 

The second is foppish "Don Diego Vega" has regaled the alcalde's wife, "Inez Quintero" with tales of the court in Spain to help keep track of "Captain Pasquale" and she wants to leave Alta California for Spain and believes "Diego" is in love with her.

While, "Diego's" father still believes his foppish son is a coward. However, after his father and the other landowners are jailed by the alcalde. "Don Diego Vega" shows up at their jail cell and reveals another of his magic tricks by producing the mask worn by "El Zorro" At which point freeing the landowners to fight "Luis Quintero's" soldiers.

Everything comes to a head in a classic sword fight between Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power. Just after "Captain Pasquale" puts two-and-two together that "Don Diego Vega" and "El Zorro" are one and the same.

"Captain Pasquale" meets his death, "Luis Quintero" and his wife are sent off to Spain, and "Diego" and "Lolita" are to be married.

In 1934, "Universal Pictures" made a classic Edgar Allan Poe entry, "The Black Cat", starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. On May 2, 1941, they used the title and Poe to make a very underrated comedy in the style of director James Whale's, also underrated, 1932, "The Old Dark House". The last credited actor was an unknown Alan Ladd. I won't tell you who the murderer is, but Basil Rathbone was the leading actor and comedian Hugh Herbert was second-billed, see the below poster, but on its 1947 re-release, still cast-credited, eleventh-billed, Alan Ladd was now shown in second position between Rathbone and Herbert.

On July 23, 1942, Basil Rathbone was fourth-billed in "Crossroads", the motion picture that brought William Powell from comedy and back to drama. Powell's co-star was no longer Myrna Loy, but two actresses, Hedy Lamarr and Claire Trevor. However, for his next feature film, Rathbone was back to first-billing in the first of a twelve-picture-series built around a large portion of Second World War propaganda.


The 1930's and 1940's were what some would describe as the "heyday" of the detective series. On the comedy side, you had the William Powell and Myrna Loy, "Thin Man" series. Then there were the three oriental detectives I linked above, portrayed by Karloff, Lorre, Oland and Toler. While several actors portrayed author S. S. Van Dine's, "Philo Vance" through both decades, and several others portrayed "Ellery Queen", also, in both decades, created by the writing team of Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington. Not to forget "Philip Marlowe" and "Sam Spade".

So, the idea of "Universal Pictures" updating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" to the 1940's wasn't out of the question. 


The screenplay gives credit to Conan Doyle's "His Last Bow", first publish in September 1917, with the complete title of "His Last Bow: The War Services of Sherlock Holmes", and is not a real mystery, but a spy story.

That story was adapted as a screenplay by Robert Hardy Andrews using the name of Robert D. Andrews. The actual screenplay was by Lynn Riggs and John Bright. However, they added some material based upon Nazi Germany radio propagandist "Lord Haw-Haw". Who was actually New York City born William Brooke Joyce, below, and would broadcast into the United Kingdom. Joyce was captured on May 28, 1945, tried and executed on January 3, 1946, age 39, by hanging.

The motion picture was directed by John Rawlins. This was his only "Sherlock Holmes" entry, but he did direct two of the "Dick Tracy" series starring Ralph Byrd.

The Cast on the Above Poster, Plus One:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Five of his next seven motion pictures were "Sherlock Holmes" stories.

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.". Nigel Bruce had just been in the cast of the Robert Stack, Diana Barrymore, and Jon Hall, 1942, "Eagle Squadron". Four of his next seven motion pictures were "Sherlock Holmes" stories.

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Kitty". She had just been in 1942's, "Pierre of the Plains", starring John Carroll, Ruth Hussey, and Bruce Cabot. Ankers would follow this feature film by co-starring with Ralph Bellamy, in 1942's, "The Great Impersonation". My article about Mrs. Richard Denning, "Evelyn Ankers and Her 1940's Horror Films from Universal Pictures", will be found at:

Reginald Denny portrayed "Sir Evan Barham". Denny had just been seen in the James Cagney, Dennis Morgan and Brenda Marshall, 1942, "Captains of the Clouds". He would follow this feature film with the Edward Arnold, Ann Harding, and Donna Reed, crime film-noir,1942's, "Eyes in the Night".

Thomas Gomez portrayed "R.F.  Meade". This was New York City born actor Gomez's first on-screen appearance. Later in 1942, he was in the Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, and John Wayne, "Pittsburgh". His career would include the Boris Karloff and Susanna Foster, 1944, "The Climax", originally planned as the sequel to her 1943, "Phantom of the Opera". Along with the Tyrone Powers, 1947, "Captain from Castile", the Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and Lauren Bacall, 1948, "Key Largo", and 1970's, "Beneath the Planet of the Apes".

Henry Daniell portrayed "Anthony Lloyd". Daniell was part of the cast of the Sidney Toler "Charlie Chan" mystery "Castle in the Desert", and after this film, the Diana Barrymore, Brian Donlevy, crime film-noir, 1942's, "Nightmare".

Montague Love portrayed "General Jerome Lawford". Love had just portrayed "General George Washington" in 1942's, "The Remarkable Andrew", starring Brian Donlevy, William Holden, and Ellen Drew. Montague Love followed this movie portraying "Chief Supreme Court Justice Chase" in 1942's, "Tennessee Johnson", starring Van Heflin as "President Johnson", Lionel Barrymore and Ruth Hussey. 

Mary Gordon portrayed "Mrs. Hudson". She had just been in the Gary Cooper version of the story of baseball legend "Lou Gehrig", 1942's, "Pride of the Yankees". For those of my readers who are fans of director James Whale, a piece of Mary Gordon trivia. Look for the actress as the wife of "Hans", in 1935's, "The Bride of Frankenstein".

The Screenplay opens with the following title card to explain why the film is not set in Victorian England. Also, it was cheaper for "Universal Pictures" to not make period films.:

The title card is followed by "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" leaving 221-B Baker Street, "Holmes" reaching for a Deerstalker Hat, and "Watson" stopping him and the detective puts on a Fedora.

"Sherlock Holmes" is called into "The Inner Circle" of British Intelligence by "Sir Evan Barham". British Intelligence wants the consulting detective's help is stopping Nazi saboteurs operating in Great Britain. Their activities are announced in advance over radio by "The Voice of Terror", the screenplays version of "Haw-Haw".

"Gavin", portrayed by Robert Barron, one of the detective's agents, is stabbed by a knife in his back, but before dying whispers the name "Christopher" to "Holmes". Accompanied by "Dr. Watson", the go into the Limehouse district of London, to meet with "Gavin's" wife "Kitty".

Next. "Holmes" meets once more with the inner circle and informs them that by using an oscilloscope, he determined the "Voice of Terror's" broadcasts are not live. 

He believes an Englishman records the broadcast, a recording is sent to Germany, and is then broadcast back to the United Kingdom.

Following a tip by "Kitty", "Holmes" and "Watson" go to the old Christopher Docks being followed by council member, "Anthony Lloyd". 

The three men are captured by a group of Nazi's led by a man named "R. F. Meade".

However, the dock workers attack "Meade" and his men, freeing "Holmes", "Watson", and "Lloyd", but "R. F. Meade" escapes through a trap door to a waiting speed boat. Next, "Kitty" pretends to be a thief and joins "Meade's" group and finds out that the Nazi leader plans to go to "Sir Evan Barham's" country estate that night and informs "Sherlock Holmes".

At the estate, "Holmes" and "Sir Evan" hide and observe a Nazi plane coming in for a landing. Suddenly, "Sir Evan" fires his gun at it causing the plane to fly away, as "Meade" watches from the shadows.

Another of the informants of "Sherlock Holmes" traces "Kitty" and "Meade" to an old church on the south coast and informs him. "Holmes" goes to the "Inner Council" and forces the group to go with him and some soldiers to the church. There they capture the Nazi's and "Meade".

Now, "Sherlock Holmes" reveals "The Voice of Terror" as being "Sir Evan Barnham". However, he informs the "Inner Council" that the man before them is really German "Henrich Von Block". The real "Sir Evan" was captured by the Germans during the First World War, executed, and replaced by "Von Block", who had an uncanny resemblance to "Barnham". With a little plastic surgery, he replaced the other man some 24-years earlier. The give-away-clue for "Sherlock Holmes" was the scar on this "Sir Evan Barham's" hand, which he determined was only about 20-years-old.

"Holmes" now informs "Von Block" and "Meade" that the German invasion force has been destroyed and the United Kingdom is safe. "Meade" pulls out a hidden gun and fatally shoots "Kitty", but is himself killed. The "Inner Council" now stands around the body of "Kitty" and swears her death will not be in vain.

The next morning the audience sees "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" walking and they hear a direct quote from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "His Last Bow", whose propaganda for the First World War referring to the coming American troops, now fits the Second World War: 

Watson: It's a lovely morning, Holmes.
Holmes: There's an east wind coming, Watson.
Watson: I don't think so. Looks like another warm day.
Holmes: Good old Watson. The one fixed point in a changing age. There's an east wind coming all the same. Such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less. And a greener, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm is cleared 


While I am not going into detail on all twelve "Universal Pictures" films, the next one is important for the villain of the piece.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON premiered in Los Angeles on December 25, 1942

This entry was directed by Roy William Neill. Neill had just directed Constance Bennett in 1942's, "Madame Spy". Back in 1937, Roy William Neill directed George Arliss in the first version of British author Russell Thorndyke's tale about the dreaded pirate "Captain Clegg". Who is in reality the kind Vicar of Dymchurch, on the English coast, "Doctor Syn". The character would be played later by both Peter Cushing and for Walt Disney, Patrick McGoohan.

There are two credited writers that adapted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The Dancing Men", into a story for a screenplay. However, the only thing taken from that story is the idea of the "Dancing Men Code". Those two writers were Edward T. Lowe, Jr, 1944's, "House of Frankenstein" and 1945's, "House of Dracula". and Scott Darling, 1942's, "The Ghost of Frankenstein".  The third screenplay writer was Edmund L. Hartmann, 1940's, "Black Friday", co-starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

The Cast Indicated on the Above Poster Plus One:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". 

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.". Bruce had just been in the Robert Young and Laraine Day, 1942, war drama romance, "Journey for Margaret", co-starring Margaret O'Brien.

Lionel Atwill portrayed "Professor Moriarty " misspelled in the screenplay as "Moriarity". The character is not in "The Dancing Men". Lionel Atwill had just been in the horror crime drama, 1942's, "Night Monster" co-starring Bela Lugosi, and followed this feature film with 1943's, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man".

Kaaren Verne
portrayed "Charlotte Eberli". The Berlin, Germany, born actress had just been seen in 1942's, "The Great Impersonation", and followed this feature film with Spencer Tracy's, 1944, "The Seventh Cross".

William Post, Jr. portrayed "Dr. Franz Tobel". He should have been seen in 1942's, "Pierre of the Plains", before this picture but his scenes were deleted. So, the comedy drama mystery, 1942's. "Pacific Rendezvous" moved up a position in his career. Post, Jr. followed this feature with seventh-billing in the 1943, version of author John Steinbeck's "The Moon Is Down", starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

Dennis Hoey portrayed "Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade". This was Hoey's first of six appearances as "Lestrade". "Universal Pictures" cast Dennis Hoey as a Scotland Yard Inspector exactly like "Lestrade", in 1943's, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man", and 1946's, "The She Wolf of London". Immediately prior to this motion picture Hoey was "Colonel Woodhue", in the comedy drama musical, 1942's, "Cairo", starring Jeanette McDonald, Robert Young, and Ethel Waters.

Mary Gordon portrayed "Mrs. Hudson". She was just seen in the criminal mystery, 1942's, "The Boss of Big Town". 

The Basic Screenplay:

The story opens in Switzerland with a disguised "Sherlock Holmes" pretending to be a Nazi spy to get "Dr. Franz Tobel", a scientist who has invented a superior bombsight, out of the country under the eyes of the Nazi's.

Above left, the uncredited Paul Fix portraying "Mueller", Basil Rathbone, and the uncredited Rudolph Anders portraying "Braun". 

Paul Fix started on-screen acting in 1925, and was a friend of "B" Cowboy star, Harry Carey, Sr. Fix and Carey were drinking buddies of director John Ford. Pau Fix was also a member of the  "John Ford Stock Company", but is known more for portraying "Marshal Micah Torrance" on televisions "The Rifleman", 1958-1963. My article, "PAUL FIX: The Character Actor Who Taught John Wayne To Walk", may be read at:

Escaping from pursuing Gestapo, the two make it to the airport and fly out of Switzerland to England. There, "Sherlock Holmes" places "Franz" under the watchful eye of "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D." at 221-Baker Street. However, against the instructions of "Holmes", "Franz" slips away to meet his fiancée "Charlotte Eberli" at her apartment and gives "Charlotte" a secret coded message to give to "Sherlock Holmes", should anything happen to him. As he leaves her apartment, German spies attempt to capture "Franz", but a passing London Bobby foils their attempt. 

The uncredited role of the London Bobby was portrayed by actor Whit Bissell in his second on-screen appearance. In 1954, character actor Bissell was in "The Creature from the Black Lagoon", "The Caine Mutiny", "Target Earth", and "The Atomic Kid". In 1956, he was in "The Framing Scenes" for "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", turned Michael Landon into the title role in 1957's, "I Was a Teenage Werewolf", and later that year was "Dr. Frankenstein" in "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein". While 1960 saw Whit Bissell in both the original "The Magnificent Seven" and producer George Pal's version of British author H. G. Wells' "The Time Machine".

"Tobel" successfully demonstrates his bombsight to RAF bomber command and "Sir Reginald Bailey", portrayed by Holmes Herbert. 

"Franz Tobel" is put under the protection of Scotland Yard and specifically "Inspector Lestrade". "Tobel" makes "Sir Reginald" understand that although he will produce his bombsight for the allies, he alone will oversee its manufacturing in a secret location. "Franz" separates the manufacturing of the bombsight between four-scientists, each unknown to the other, and only when the four parts are assembled, does the actual bombsight exist. However, shortly after the plan is put into effect, "Sherlock Holmes" receives a call from "Lestrade", "Franz Tobel" has disappeared! "Holmes" goes to "Charlotte Eberli's" flat and is given the envelope from "Tobel".

Instead of the coded message, inside is a message from "Professor Moriarty", who is now working with the Nazi's. Disguising himself as one of the professor's old henchmen, "Ram Singh", "Holmes" starts searching the Soho district for information. He runs into two other of "Moritary's" henchmen, "Peg Leg", portrayed by Harold De Becker, and "Jack Brady", portrayed by Harry Cording, but is captured by "Professor Moriarty".

"Sherlock Holmes" is placed into an empty sea chest with a false bottom, but is rescued by "Dr. Watson" and "Inspector Lestrade" after observing "Peg Leg" and "Jack Brady" struggling with what should be an easy lift and carry.

"Holmes" returns to "Charlotte's" flat and looking around, finally sees impressions left upon the notepad that "Franz" used to write the original message. He brings the message out, by first immersing the paper in fluorescent salts and then photographing the page using ultraviolet light. On the paper is a extremely clever substitution cipher, "The Dancing Men", and "Sherlock Holmes" is able to break the first three lines, the locations of three of the scientists, but not the fourth line.

Next, "Holmes" learns that the professor has murdered all three scientists and stolen their parts of the bombsight, but like "Sherlock Holmes", "Professor Moriarty" hasn't been able to break "Franz Tobel's" fourth line and the location of the fourth scientist. "Moriarty" has captured the missing "Tobel" and is attempting to torture him for that information.

Working throughout the night, "Holmes" finally breaks the fourth line and discovers the name of the fourth scientist, "Professor Frederick Hoffner", portrayed by Henry Victor. Meanwhile, "Professor Moriarty" accidently discovers the change in the fourth lines cipher and sends his henchmen to bring "Professor Hoffner" to him.

Two things now occur, the first is "Dr. Watson" has attached dripping luminous paint to the henchmen's car after they arrived to capture "Professor Hoffner". The second is that when "Professor Moriarty" meets "Professor Hoffner", who also can assemble the bombsight, he is looking at "Sherlock Holmes" in disguise.

All leading to "Watson" and "Lestrade", following the luminous paint trail, to "Moriarty's" location.

Where, to stall for time, "Sherlock Holmes" lets himself be captured, and tricks "Professor Moriarty" into bleeding him to death, drop by drop. "Watson" and "Lestrade" arrive with the police, the spies are captured, "Frank Tobel" rescued, and "Professor Moriarty" starts to escape by entering his secret passageway. Only, to fall sixty-feet to his death, as "Holmes" had already discovered the "Professor's" trap door, and left it open in the dark.

For their next entry in the series, the "World's First Consulting Detective" and "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.", crossed the pound to travel to Washington D.C., to prevent a secret document from falling into enemy hands, in:

premiering on January 10, 1943, in London, England.

Taking a one picture break from portraying "Sherlock Holmes", Basil Rathbone portrayed the "Gestapo Chief Sig von Aschenhausen" in the Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray, 1943, "Above Suspicion", set in 1939, England.

Next, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce found themselves in a very thin and changed version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual", as:

SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH released on September17, 1943

"Dr. Watson" has volunteered to work at a convalescent home and someone is murdering the patients.

Although some of those patients are military, this is a straight murder mystery taking place at "Musgrave Hall" that has been turned into the convalescent home. The "Musgrave Ritual" of the original short story is incorporated into the screenplay, and you had co-star Hillary Brooke portraying "Sally Musgrave", this was Brooke's second of three appearances in the serieswith Gavin Muir portraying "Phillip Musgrave", and Frederick Worlock portraying "Geoffrey Musgrave". 

However, once the murder mystery is solved, as "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" drive away from "Musgrave Hall, "Holmes" goes into a little Second World War speak:
There’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of grab and greed are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we owe the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time’s coming, Watson, when we shan’t be able to fill our bellies in comfort while other folk go hungry, or sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold; when we shan’t be able to kneel and thank God for blessings before our shining altars while men anywhere are kneeling in either physical or spiritual subjection.... And God willing, we’ll live to see that day, Watson.

Broadway comedians Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson turned their Broadway play, "Hellzapoppin" into a 1941 motion picture hit. Now, they were back to make "Crazy House", released on October 8, 1943.

and Chic want to make a movie at "Universal Pictures" and in a cameo Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" were seen in passing on the way to the shoot of the following motion picture.

THE SPIDER WOMAN premiered in Seattle, Washington, on December 10, 1943

The above tag line ---
--- seen on several poster variations for the feature film is very interesting, because there is not just "a story", as in the previous movies, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, used for this screenplay.

That screenplay was written by Bertham Miklhauser, who had come up with the stories for the previous two "Sherlock Holmes" entries. For his hybrid screenplay, "Sherlockian" Milkhauser combined sections of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel "The Sign of the Four", and his short stories "The Final Problem", "The Adventure of the Empty House", "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", and specifically, "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot". 

This was director Roy William Neill's fourth outing with "Sherlock Holmes" and he would direct the following seven. Between the features "Sherlock Holmes in Washington" and "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death". Roy William Neill directed 1943's, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man".

Four Familiar Names and a New One:

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Sherlock Holmes".

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.".

Dennis Hoey portrayed "Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade". Hoey had just portrayed the role in 1943's, "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death". He would follow this feature film by appearing in the Errol Flynn and Paul Lukas, 1944, "Uncertain Glory".

Gale Sondergaard portrayed "Adrea Spedding". Her two roles preceding this motion picture were as "Ann Huber", in 1943's, "The Strange Death of Adolph Hitler", and portraying herself, Gale Sondergaard in 1943's, "Crazy House".

Mary Gordon portrayed "Mrs. Hudson". She just appeared in a musical comedy romance, 1943's, "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith", co-starring singer Allan Jones, Evelyn Ankers, and Billie Burke, "Glinda, the Good Witch in 1939's, "The Wizard of Oz". Gordon followed this film with the crime trial drama, 1943's, "Smart Guy".

The Web of the Spider Woman:

The story opens with "Sherlock Holmes" faking his own death in Scotland, ---

--- and after returning to "Dr. Watson", who believed in that death, as "Sherlock Holmes" wanted him too for appearances, "Watson" becomes the only person that knows the truth. 

The consulting detective believes that a series of deaths of wealthy gamblers is the work of a "Female Moriarty". Disguising himself as wealthy gambler, "Rajini Singh", a distinguished Indian military officer, "Holmes" starts stalking the gambling clubs of London.

Shortly afterwards, "Rajini Singh" meets the lovely, but diabolical, "Adrea Spedding".

Investigating, "Sherlock Holmes" discovers that "Spedding" seeks out gamblers who are short on money. She next convinces them to pawn their life insurance policies through her accomplices and has them killed. "Holmes/Singh", now sets himself up to become one of "Spedding's" victims.

With further investigation, "Sherlock Holmes" discovers the "Spider Woman's" means of murder. She uses the deadly spider, "Lycosa Carnivora's" venom, which causes extreme pain, driving her victims to kill themselves to end it. However, "Holmes" is also a little confused, because at the site of the latest death, is the footprint of a child.

"Holmes" and "Watson" go to visit the eminent arachnologist "Matthew Ordway", who is the possible source of the spiders for "Spedding", but discover they are speaking to an imposter who is able to run away. 

Searching "Ordway's" residence, they find his body, but also his journals, that mentions someone, from Central Africa, who is immune to the spider venom. Additionally, the two find what "Sherlock Holmes" believes is the skeleton of a small child.

"Dr. Watson" examines the skeleton and advises "Holmes" that it is not of a child, but a full-grown man. "Ordway's" journal now speaks of Central African pigmy's.

"Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. John H. Watson" continue their investigation bringing "Inspector Lestrade" of Scotland Yard into them. The three visit the fairground that "The Spider Woman" uses as her base of operations. While "Watson" and "Lestrade" seem to enjoy the fair, "Holmes" manages to find "Spedding" and her gang including a Central Africa "Pigmy", portrayed by Nebraska born Angelo Rossitto, and get captured.

"Sherlock Holmes" is placed behind the targets at a shooting gallery that ironically are being shot at by "Dr. Watson" and "Inspector Lestrade" with .22 caliber rifles.

"Holmes", of course, gets out of the situation, has "Lestrade" get more police, and with "Dr. Watson" they arrest the entire gang. Before "Inspector Lestrade" can handcuff "Adrea Spedding", "Holmes" ever the gentleman, asks him not to do it. Explaining "Spedding" will quietly accompany the Scotland Inspector to jail. "The Spider Woman", smiles at the consulting detective and says she appreciates his thought.

On February 28, 1946, in Crystal City, Missouri, was the premiere of Gale Sondergaard's "The Spider Woman Strikes Back". The film, except with playing off the above motion picture's title to draw in audiences, had nothing to do with "Sherlock Holmes". Sondergaard's character in this horror movie was named "Zenobia Dollard" and she was feeding actress Brenda Joyce's blood to her pet  plant.


Premiering in New York City, on May 18, 1944, was "THE SCARLET CLAW".

Basil Rathbone took a one picture break from "Sherlock Holmes" on June 27, 1944, to appear in comedian Red Skelton's musical comedy, "Bathing Beauty" co-starring Esther Williams.

Above, Jacqueline Dalya portraying "Maria Dorango" with Basil Rathbone portraying "George Adams".

THE PEARL OF DEATH premiered August 1, 1944

Once again, the motion picture was directed by Roy William Neill, he had just directed "The Scarlet Claw", and would follow this feature film with the Maria Montez, Jon Hall, 1944, "Gypsy Wildcat".

The screenplay was loosely based upon Sir Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons", and Bertram Millhauser wrote the screenplay. 

The Cast on the Poster Plus One Main Actor:

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Basil would take another break from the character and co-star with Joan Fontaine, and Mexican leading actor, Arthuro de Cordova, in British authoress Daphne Du Maurier's "Frenchman's Creek", released on September 20, 1944.

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.". He followed this picture with a role in 1944's, "Gypsy Wildcat".

Dennis Hoey portrayed "Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade". Hoey followed this film with 1944's, "National Velvet", starring Mickey Rooney and featuring Donald Crisp and Elizabeth Taylor.

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Naomi Drake". She had just co-starred with Jon Hall and Alan Curtis in 1944's, "The Invisible Man's Revenge", and would appear in the Maria Montez, Jack Oakie, and Susanna Foster, 1944, "Bowery to Broadway".

Miles Mander portrayed "Giles Conover". Mander has just portrayed "Judge Brisson" in 1944's, "The Scarlet Claw", and would follow this feature film portraying "Charles Seagrave" in 1944's, "Enter Arsene Lupin".

Mary Gordon finally got recognition by the studio for portraying "Mrs. Hudson". She had just appeared in 1944's "Secret Command", starring Pat O'Brien, Carole Landis, and Chester Morris. Mary Gordon next was seen in the comedy musical, 1944's, "Ever Since Venus", starring Ida Ray Hutton and Hugh Herbert.

Rondo Hatton portrayed "The Creeper". For those of my readers who only know of the disease "acromegaly" from the 1955 science fiction movie, "Tarantula". Rondo Hatton was an actor who suffered from the disease and is basically remembered for 1946's, "House of Horrors", and the same years "The Brute Man". Two of his overlooked feature films was the already mentioned 1946's, "The Spider Woman Strikes Back", and this feature. My article, "Rondo Hatton: The Tragic Life of "THE CREEPER", can be read at:

The Very Basic Screenplay:

The plot of the story has master criminal "Giles Conover" steal the famous "Borgia Pearl" from the "Royal Regent Museum" and "Holmes" and "Watson" going after him. When "Conover" is caught the pearl is nowhere to be seen and he is set free for lack of evidence.

"Giles Conover's" associate is the "Hoxton Creeper". An elderly colonel is found dead with his back broken and pieces of smashed Chinese pottery around the body. Almost immediately is another murder of an elderly lady, her back broken, and Chinese pottery smashed around the body and then a third murder takes place. Holmes now deducts that the pearl was hidden in a Chinese pottery bust of Napoleon, one of six, sold to different people.

"The Creeper" arrives at the next person's home, but it is "Sherlock Holmes" in disguise he meets.

Overpowered by "The Hoxton Creeper", but talking to him all the time. "Sherlock Holmes" convinces the other that "Giles Conover" will double cross him. Letting go of the consulting detective, "The Hoxton Creeper" leaves to confront "Conover".

"Holmes" and "Watson" arrive at "Conover's" in time to see "The Creeper"" kill him. When he turns toward the two arrivals. "Sherlock Holmes" shoots and kills him. The story ends with the arrival of the police and "Holmes" breaking open the final bust of Napoleon to reveal the "Borgia Pearl".

1944's, "Frenchman's Creek" was followed by four more "Sherlock Holmes" feature films in a row.

They were:

"THE HOUSE OF FEAR", released on March 16, 1945.

"THE WOMAN IN GREEN" premiered on June 15, 1945, in New York City.

"PURSUIT TO ALGIERS" released on October 26, 1945.

"TERROR BY NIGHT" released February 1, 1946

Another one picture break from the series was "Heartbeat", a comedy drama romance, starring Ginger Rodgers, Jean-Pierre Aumont, and Adolphe Menjou, featuring Basil Rathbone, released on May 10, 1946. 

"Heartbeat" led to the 12th and final "Universal Pictures", "Sherlock Holmes" feature and the 14th starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

DRESSED TO KILL premiered in New York City, on May 24, 1946

Directing his 11th picture in the series was Roy William Neill. Neill followed this picture with his final film of a 110-film career, 1946's, "Black Angel", a crime film-noir starring Dan Duryea, June Vincent, and Peter Lorre.

The screenplay was adapted by Frank Gruber from two Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, once again, "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" and "A Scandal in Bohemia". Gruber had written the screenplay for 1946's, "Terror By Night".

The actual screenplay writer who added the majority of the story to Gruber's adaptations was Leonard Lee. Lee wrote the screenplay for 1945's, "Pursuit to Algiers", and between that film and this one. Leonard Lee was one of three writers on 1945's, "This Love Of Ours", starring Merle Oberon, Charles Korvin, and Claude Rains.

Some of the Cast of Characters:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Rathbone followed this picture by teaming up with Walt Disney. The actor narrated the 1949 animated tales, "The Wind and the Willows", and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Which were released as "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad".

Nigel Bruce
portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.". Bruce next had fourth billing behind Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, and Alexis Smith, in 1947's, "The Two Mrs. Carrolls".

Mary Gordon
portrayed "Mrs. Hudson". Mary Gordon had just appeared in 1946's, "The Hoodlum Saint", starring William Powell, Esther Williams, and Angela Lansbury. She followed this feature film by appearing in the latest "The Bowery Boys" movie, 1946's, "In Fast Company".

Patricia Morison portrayed "Mrs Hilda Courtney". She had been just buried at eighth-billing in the Deanna Durbin comedy crime film-noir, 1945's, "Lady on a Train", and followed this motion picture with another third-billing in 1946's, "Danger Woman", co-starring with Don Porter and Brenda Joyce. 

Edmund Breon as Edmond Breon portrayed "Julian 'Stinky' Emery". Breon had a role in the biography of the Bronte Sisters, 1946's, "Devotion", starring Ida Lupino as "Emily", and Olivia de Havilland as "Charlotte". Edmond Breon followed this movie with 1946's, "The Imperfect Lady", starring Ray Milland, Teresa Wright, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

The Screenplay:

The story opens in Dartmoor Prison with convicted thief "John Davidson", portrayed by the uncredited Cyril Delevanti, placing a clue to the location of the extremely valuable printing plates stolen from the Bank of England by him. Clues are found in the melody notes of three different music boxes. Which play a subtly different version of the Australian tune, "The Swagman". Each box will be sold at auction to three different people.

An old classmate and friend of "Dr. Watson", "Julian 'Stinky' Emery", comes to 221-B Baker Street with a tale of a strange robbery attempt at his home the previous night. Someone attempted to steal a very plain looking wooden music box, similar to the one "Emery" bought at an auction. After knocking him out, the attempted robbery took place. What made this robbery attempt strange, was the fact that "Julian Emery" had several very expensive music boxes and none of them were taken, or apparently even touched. "Watson" and "Holmes" accompany "Emery" to his house to look at his music box collection and leave to consider the attempted robbery. 

After they leave "Watson's" friend's home, "Julian Emery" is visited by a female acquaintance, "Mrs. Hilda Courtney". 

She wants to see the music box "Emery" purchased at the auction, is shown it, and "Courtney" offers to purchase the box, but "Julian" declines. Later, a male friend of "Hilda Courtney", hiding in the house, kills "Emery", and takes the music box.

After "Julian Emery" was murdered, apparently over an plain-looking music box bought at an auction, "Sherlock Holmes" checks the auction records and discovers that two more plain-looking music boxes were also sold. He goes to the next name on the list and encounters a maid, acting strangely, just leaving the home to "go shopping". After she leaves, "Holmes" discovers a child locked in a closet and the music box stolen.

"Sherlock Holmes" is able to purchase the third music box and discovers that the variant notes correspond to letters of the alphabet. Scotland Yard fills him in on the stolen bank plates and "Holmes" deduces that you need all three music boxes to get the message.

Returning to 221-B, "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dr. Watson" discover that their flat has been ransacked, but "Holmes" also finds a clue to who was there. Whomever it was, has made the mistake of leaving a cigarette made from a distinct type of tobacco and the detective starts to track down the buyer.

"Sherlock Holmes" tracks the tobacco to "Mrs. Hilda Courtney". "Sherlock Holmes" visits her, but is taken prisoner by her accomplices, taken to a warehouse, hung from a rafter as poison gas fills the warehouse.

While the above is going on and "Sherlock Holmes" is escaping, "Courtney" goes to 221-B Baker Street and "Dr. Watson". Where she proceeds to steal the music box, but shortly afterwards, "Sherlock Holmes" has made his way back to the flat. Speaking with him about the music box and "Hilda Courtney", "Watson" makes an off handed quote from 18th Century poet, playwright, and novelist, "Dr. Samuel Johnson". The quotation gets "Sherlock Holmes" thinking as to where the stolen plates may be.

Having stolen the three boxes and deciphering the message. "Mrs. Hilda Courtney" and her gang have joined a tour group at the home of "Dr. Samuel Johnson", now a museum, and she slips away from the tour with two of her gang. She goes to a bookshelf and locates and removes the Bank of England plates.

After doing this, "Sherlock Holmes" appears with Scotland Yard police officers and arrests the entire group.


On April 13, 1948, on the CBS interview program "Tonight on Broadway", host John Mason Brown interviewed Basil Rathbone. He was appearing with actress Wendy Hiller on the Broadway stage in "The Heiress". 

Basil Rathbone next made two cameo appearances on "The Milton Berle Show" aka: "The Texaco Star Theatre", on April 4, 1949 and April 19, 1949.

Between late-1949 and mid-1954, Basil Rathbone's primary income came from appearing on television programing starting with Season Two, Episode Two, October 21, 1949, of "The Ford Theatre Hour", in a television production of "One Borrowed Time". A shorten television version of the 1939 motion picture with Basil Rathbone in the Sir Cedric Hardwicke role of "Mr. Brink aka: Death", who was tricked and trapped in a tree by actor Walter Hampton in the Lionel Barrymore role of "Julian Northrup".

Rathbone followed that appearance with "The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre", one should be fair to all American car company sponsors, in "At Night All Cats Are Grey", by British screenwriter Gavin Lambert, Season Two, Episode Twelve, December 5, 1949.

Above, Pamela Conroy with Basil Rathbone on the program.

After a guest appearance on "The Ken Murray Show", January 1, 1950, and a guest appearance February 2, 1950, on "Inside U.S.A. with Chevrolet", the actor was back on "The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre", March 6, 1950, Season Two, Episode Twenty-five, "The Queen of Spades", about an old countess, portrayed by Margaret Wycherly, who may have sold her soul to the devil to learn the secret of winning at cards.

Another guest appearance, this time on Sid Caesar's "Show of Shows", followed on April 8, 1950. Then on the "NBC SHOWCASE", May 30, 1950, an unsold pilot for a weekly "SHERLOCK HOLMES" series was shown.

I am not going into detail about all of Basil Rathbone's television appearances, but should my reader be interested. The following link will take them to a complete listing.

Six more television appearances took Basil Rathbone to NBC's "Suspense", Season Three, Episode Twenty-eight, on May 6, 1951, in the title role of Robert Lewis Stevenson's, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Unfortunately, I could not locate any stills from the production.

Twelve more television appearances followed including five more with "Melton Berle", and Basil Rathbone appeared on the game show, "I've Got a Secret", hosted by Gary Moore, December 12, 1952.

Four more programs and Basil Rathbone found himself portraying "Sherlock Holmes", in Season Five, Episode Thirty-One, May 26, 1953, of the television series, "Suspense", entitled, "The Adventure of the Black Baronet", written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's youngest son, Adrian Conan Doyle.

Above, English actor Martyn Green portraying "Dr. John H. Watson" and Basil Rathbone portraying "Sherlock Holmes".

Three more television appearances followed until Basil Rathbone found himself in another motion picture.


CASANOVA'S BIG NIGHT premiered in Los Angeles on April 7, 1954

On the above poster Basil Rathbone is listed in third position, but on the official cast listing he is in fourth position. 

This was a spoof of the swashbuckling movies appearing in the first half of the 1950's. That were one of the several "safe" genres of movies that the major studios could make to avoid the attention of the "House Committee on Un-American Activities" during what was known as "The Second Red Scare" and "Black Listing" prevailed in the industry.

Bob Hope portrayed "Pippo Popolino". Hope had just starred in the musical comedy, 1953's, "Here Comes the Girl", co-starring Tony Martin, Arlene Dahl, and Rosemary Clooney. He would follow this feature with the Hollywood biography of Eddie Foy, 1955's, "The Seven Little Foys".

Joan Fontaine portrayed "Francesca Bruni". Fontaine had just co-starred with Ida Lupino and Edmond O'Brien in 1953's, "The Bigamist". She would follow this motion picture appearing on televisions "Four Star Theatre", May 26, 1955, in "Trudy", a comedy crime drama co-starring Hans Conreid.

Basil Rathbone portrayed both "Lucio" and "The Narrator". Basil had just starred on televisions "The Philip Morris Playhouse", February 11, 1954, in "The Man They'd Murdered". He would follow this motion picture on the television anthology series, "Love Story", June 1, 1954, in "The Yo-Yo People", co-starring with Beatrice Straight.

The story is pure Bob Hope, he portrays a tailor who impersonates the great Italian lover, Giacomo Casanova, and as a result gets the ladies, but also becomes involved with tarnishing a woman's reputation, but saves it instead and almost loses his head over it. At the end, Vincent Price does a cameo as the real "Casanova".

On December 23, 1954, Basil Rathbone portrayed "Marley's Ghost" in a musical version of British author Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", written by playwright Maxwell Anderson, and starring Frederic March as "Scrooge". This was part of the television series "Shower of Stars".

Three more television appearances followed before another feature film, that included co-starring with comedian Eddie Cantor, May 23, 1955, in "Always the Butler", on televisions "The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theatre".

WE'RE NO ANGELS premiered in New York City on July 7, 1955

This is an odd comedy about three escaped convicts from Devil's Island, who help a kindly family out with a few financial problems with the store they manage and live in. However, the store owner arrives from Paris to kick them out and sell the property.

The Three Convicts are:

Humphrey Bogart portraying "Joseph". "Boggie" had just recreated his Broadway and 1936 film role of "Duke Mantee" in "The Petrified Forest", May 30, 1955, on televisions "Producers Showcase". He would follow this feature film with 1955's, "The Left Hand of God".

Aldo Ray portrayed "Albert". He had just co-starred with Van Heflin in 1955's, "Battle Cry" from a screenplay by the novel's author, Leon Uris and directed by Raoul Walsh. Ray followed this picture with another Second World War story, 1959's, "Three Stripes in the Sun".

Peter Ustinov portrayed "Jules". He had just co-written and co-starred in "The Moment of Truth", March 6, 1955, on the "BBC Sunday-Night Theatre". Ustinov next co-starred in the French and West German, 1955, "Lola Montes".

Above left to right, Peter Ustinov, Humphrey Bogart, and Aldo Ray.

The Store Managers:

Joan Bennett portrayed "Amelie Ducotel". Bennett had just appeared in "The Dark Fleece", June 16, 1955, on the television anthology series, "Climax". Joan Bennett next co-starred with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in 1956's, "There's Always Tomorrow". My article, "Joan Bennett: 'Elizabeth Collins Stoddard' of 'Dark Shadows", is available for your reading pleasure at:

Leo G. Carroll portrayed "Felix Ducotel". Carroll was in his final season, 1953-1955, of the television comedy "Topper", and followed this motion picture with the cult science fiction/giant monster thriller, 1955's, "Tarantula", co-starring with John Agar and Mara Corday.

Above, Joan Bennett and Leo G. Carroll.

The Villain of the Piece:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Andre Trochard". The actor followed this motion picture with a made-for-television motion picture, a musical comedy special on NBC, "Svengali and the Blonde", co-starring with Carol Channing and Ethel Barrymore.

Before any real action with Rathbone's character can take place, "Trochard" does even appear until the last third of the movie, he is bitten by a snake hiding in "Albert's" coat pocket and dies.

Next, it was Season One, Episode Sixteen, August 9, 1955, of televisions "Science Fiction Theatre", in the episode, "The Stones Began to Move". The teleplay was about discovering how the pyramids may have been made. 

THE COURT JESTER released first in Japan on December 24, 1955

This is technically described as a musical comedy, medieval romance. In actuality this is Danny Kaye's classic spoof of movies such as 1939's, "The Adventures of Robin Hood", 1953's, "Knights of the Round Table", starring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner, 1953's, "The Sword and the Rose", starring Glynis Johns and Richard Todd, 1954's, "The Black Shield of Falworth", starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and 1954's, "Prince Valiant", starring Robert Wagner and James Mason.

The screenplay for, and directing of the film, are both by the duo of Melvin Frank, and Norman Panama. Who did the same for Danny Kaye's, 1954, "Knock on Wood". The two also wrote the screenplay for the Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, 1954, "White Christmas". 

Danny Kaye portrayed "Hubert Hawkins". Kaye was just seen in "White Christmas", and followed this picture with 1958's, "Merry Andrew", co-starring Pier Angeli.

Glynis Johns portrayed "Maid Jean". She had previously starred in the British comedy, 1955's, "Josephine and Men", and followed this feature film with 1956's, "Loser Taker All", co-starring Rossano Brazzi, and Robert Morley. Fans of Walt Disney, know Johns as "Mrs. Banks", in 1964's, "Mary Poppins".

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Lord Ravenhurst", having a splendid time at spoofing his own role of "Sir Guy of Gisbourne". After this film, Basil Rathbone was in "Affair in Sumatra", February 22, 1956, on televisions "Screen Directors Playhouse". The screen director of that program was Byron Haskin, Walt Disney's, 1950, version of Robert Lewis Stevenson's "Treasure Island", producer George Pal's, 1953, "War of the Worlds", and 1954's, "The Naked Jungle".

Angela Lansbury portrayed "Princess Gwedolyn". Lansbury had just co-starred with Randolph Scott in the western, 1955's, "A Lawless Street", and followed this picture with a comedy drama western, "Crisis in Kansas", January 3, 1956, on televisions "Chevron Hall of Stars".

Cecil Parker portrayed "King Roderick, the Tyrant". Cecil Parker had just co-starred with Sir Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, and Danny Green in the original British classic, 1955's, "The Lady Killers". He followed this feature film with a role in the Van Johnson and Vera Miles, 1956, "23 Paces to Baker Street", no this is not a "Sherlock Holmes" story, but about a blind American writer stumbling upon a kidnapping conspiracy.

Michael Pate portrayed "Rathbone's" henchman, "Sir Locksley", an obvious play on good-guy "Robin Hood's" real name. Australian character actor Pate had just been in the Scott and Lansbury, 1955, "A Lawless Street". Among his film roles was portraying the butler "William", in Richard Carlson's, 1953, 3-D, horror movie, "The Maze", "Vittorio" in John Wayne's, 1953, 3-D western "Hondo", and the western vampire, "Drake Robey", in 1959's, "Curse of the Undead". Michael Pate is one of the two characters actors I look at in my article, "Woody Strode and Michael Pate: Western Stalwarts", found at:

A Basic Story Outline:

This is a Danny Kaye movie and that means gags and gag lines galore and part of the reason it is impossible to describe the story accurately, or relate it in words. 

"King Roderick the Tyrant" sends "Lord Ravenhurst" to slaughter the Royal family of England. This seems to work and "Roderick" becomes King. However, the "Black Fox", portrayed by Edward Ashley, and his rebels rescue the "true King of England", a baby with a "purple pimpernel" on his backside. The "purple pimpernel on his backside" birthmark leads to a fast paced, typical Danny Kaye double-talk play with words later in the story. 

At "Roderick's" court, "Lord Brockhurst", portrayed by Alan Napier, "Lord Finsdale", portrayed by Lewis Martin, and "Lord Pertree", portrayed by Patrick Aherne, convince "King Roderick" to seek an alliance with "Sir Griswold of McSwain", portrayed by Robert Middleton, by offering his daughter "Gwendolyn" in marriage. However, she objects, because the castle witch, "Griselda", portrayed by Mildred Natwick, foretold she would marry a more gallant lover.

While, the "Black Fox's" minstrel, "Hubert Hawkins" dreams of being a true fighting rebel. He shows up with a troupe of acrobatic-midgets that go into one of the many song and dance numbers in the picture, but are dressed like "Robin Hood's" merrymen and copies of the "Black Fox's" outfit.

The rebel hideout is discovered by the King's men and "Hubert" and "Maid Jean" are ordered to protect the infant king disguised as wine merchants. 

The two come across "Giacomo", the newly hired court jester, portrayed, by John Carradine, and "Jean" has "Hubert" knock him out and assume his identity in court as a spy for the "Black Fox". She takes the baby and goes another way, only to be captured by the King's men ordered to bring the fairest wenches in the kingdom to court.

When the fake "Giacomo" arrives at court, "Lord Ravenhurst" reveals to "Sir Locksley", that "Giacomo" is an assassin he's hired to kill the three Lord's, "Brockhurst", "Petree", and "Finsdale", to prevent the alliance and set him up to marry "Gwendolyn" and get the English throne.

Next, "Maid Jean" is brought to court, she had met previously with a confederate of the "Black Fox", "Fergus, the Hostler", portrayed by Noel Drayton, and he took the baby before she was captured and is hiding him.

Things now get out of hand, as "Gwendolyn" falls in love with "Hubert", "King Roderick" with "Maid Jean", "Hubert" misreads a signal that "Lord Ravenhurst" accidently gives and joins with him, thinking he's the "Black Fox's" spy, instead of "Fergus, the Hostler".. 

This is followed by "Lord Ravenhurst" starting to believe that "Hurbert/Giacomo" isn't really either a minstrel or assassin, but the "Black Fox" himself.

The climax comes with a sword fight between Basil Rathbone and Danny Kaye that directly spoofs the one Rathbone had with Errol Flynn in "The Adventures of Robin Hood".

The trick to get "Hubert" to be an excellent swordsman, Danny Kaye took extensive sword fighting lessons for the film and from Rathbone, is that the witch, "Griselda", hypnotizes him into believing he is the greatest swordsman in England. Except, he keeps snapping out of it and becomes his bumbling self and then snaps back into the greatest swordsman. It is a great sequence!

At the end of the swordfight now on the roof of the castle, "Hurbert" and "Maid Jean" launch "Lord Ravenhurst" off the castle by a catapult into the sea.

"The Court Jester" was followed by the previously mentioned "Affair in Sumatra" and that television appearance was followed by a very low budget horror movie with an interesting cast of actors and a pretty solid story line.

THE BLACK SLEEP premiered in San Francisco on June 7, 1956

This was another independent production of "Bel-Air Productions", a company founded by both producer and director Howard W. Koch, 1953's, "War Paint", starring Robert Stack and Joan Taylor, both 1957's, "Voodoo Island", starring Boris Karloff, and "Frankenstein 1970", starring Boris Karloff, and his co-founder, independent producer, Aubrey Schenck, the same mentioned movies, but also both men were the uncredited producers of director William Castle's, 1958, "Macabre".

The motion picture was directed by Reginald Le Borg. Borg started directing in 1936 and among his notable films were two "Inner Sanctum" mysteries starring Lon Chaney, 1943's, "Calling Dr. Death", and 1944's, "Weird Woman". In 1944, he directed "Jungle Woman", a sequel to 1943's, "Captive Wild Woman", that turned a female gorilla into a beautiful human woman. Continuing in 1944, Le Borg, again directed Lon Chaney in "The Mummy's Ghost" and a third "Inner Sanctum" mystery, "Dead Man's Eyes".

The screenplay was from a story by Gerald Drayson Adams. From 1948, Adams specialized in "B" westerns and "B" Arabian Night stories.

The written screenplay was by John C. Higgins. His specialty was "B" murder mysteries, but he would co-write with Ib Melchior, the 1964 science fiction, "Robinson Crusoe on Mars", directed by Byron Haskin, and produced by Aubrey Schenck.

The Cast:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Sir Joel Cadman". For the picture's 1962 re-release, the title was now "Dr. Cadman's Secret". After appearing in this motion picture, Basil Rathbone was seen for the third-time portraying "Marley's Ghost" in the second television rerun of 1954's, "A Christmas Carol", on December 13, 1956. However, Rathbone also portrayed "Ebenezer Scrooge", on December 23, 1956, in "The Stingiest Man in Town", a musical variation of "A Christmas Carol", on the television anthology series, "The Alcoa Hour".

Akim Tamiroff
portrayed "Odo the gypsy". Tamiroff's film career included Cary Cooper's, 1935, 
"The Lives of a Bengal Lancer", Jeanette MacDonald
and Nelson Eddy's, 1935,"Naughty Marietta", Paul Muni's, 1936, "The Story of Louis Pasteur", director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1938, "The Buccaneer", DeMille's, 1939, "Union Pacific", DeMille's, 1940, "North West Mounted Police", the Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper, 1943 version of Ernest Hemmingway's, "For Whom the Bell Tolls", and Orson Welles', 1949, "Black Magic".

Lon Chaney portrayed "Dr. Monroe aka Mungo". He had just portrayed a Greek immigrant in "The Golden Junkman", April 8, 1956, on the television anthology series, "Telephone Time". Lon would follow this film with the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1956, "Partners". My article, "Lon Chaney, Jr. 'Of Mice and Werewolves", can be read at:

John Carradine portrayed "Boremond aka Borg". The Shakespearian trained actor is considered one of the greatest character actors in motion picture history by many film historians. In 1939 Carradine portrayed "Robert Ford" in "Jesse James", "Barryman" in "The Hound of the Baskervilles", and "Hatfield" in John Ford's, "Stagecoach". Then in 1940, he reprised "Robert Ford" in "The Return of Frank James", plus the "Reverend Casey" in John Ford's version of John Steinbeck's, "The Grapes of Wrath", and "Doc Murdoch" in director Fritz Lang's, "Western Union". 

However, it is John Carradine's horror roles, such as "Yousef Bey" and "Baron Latos",  that most people know him for. What they might not know was his two early uncredited roles such as "The Informer Suggesting Ink" in 1933's, "The Invisible Man", and the "Cult Organist" in 1934's, "The Black Cat". Although, he is often recognized, in hindsight, in the uncredited role of the "Lost Hunter at the Hermit's Cottage", in 1935's, "The Bride of Frankenstein", 

It should be noted that in the same year, 1956, of this motion picture. John Carradine portrayed the role of the brother of "Moses", "Aaron", in Cecil B. DeMille's, Biblical epic, "The Ten Commandments", and as "Dracula", November 23, 1956, on the television anthology series, "Matinee Theatre".

Bela Lugosi portrayed "Casmir". Bela "Dracula" Lugosi, as he was once billed, had just been seen in director Edward "Ed" D. Wood, Jr's, 1955, "Bride of the Monster". This would be Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko's last completed motion picture. He would follow this motion picture with Ed Wood's, 1957's, "Plan 9 from Outer Space", appearing only on "test footage" Wood had shot for what was to be either "The Phantom Ghoul", or, "Dr. Acula". That footage was shot in front of Tor Johnson's house. Bela had appeared in Ed Wood's, 1953, "Glen or Glenda" as "A Scientist". In many ways the role of "Casmir" was identical to his role of "Joseph", in director Robert Wise's 1945 version of Scottish author Robert Lewis Stevenson's, "The Body Snatcher", for producer Val Lewton.

Herbert Rudley portrayed "Dr. Gordon Angus Ramsay". Rudley was  a legitimate stage actor who had a secondary career in many major film productions starting with Raymond Massey's, 1940, "Abe Lincoln in Illinois". Rudley's second motion picture, he had been appearing on Broadway, was Spencer Tracy's, 1944, "The Seventh Cross", and a year later, he portrayed "Ira Gershwin" to Robert Alda's, "George Gershwin" in "Rhapsody in Blue". Also, in 1945, Herbert Rudley appeared as an army sergeant in director Lewis Milestone's, classic Second World War movie, "A Walk in the Sun". In 1946, he was the doctor who revives an executed gangster, not in a horror movie, in an overlooked film-noir, "Decoy", with Robert Armstrong. Two years after that feature film, Rudley was in both the Yvonne DeCarlo, Tony Martin, and Peter Lorre, "Casbah", and, Ingrid Bergman's, "Joan of Arc".

Patricia Blair
billed as Patricia Blake, her birth name, portrayed "Laurie Monroe". This was Blair's fifth on-screen appearance and after this picture, she stayed almost exclusively with television roles. Her best known was portraying Fess Parker's wife, "Rebecca Bone", for the 118-episodes of televisions "Daniel Boone". She also portrayed "Lou Mallory" for 17-episodes of televisions "The Rifleman", although the credits for another 5-episodes, show her in the role even though she didn't appear in them.

Phyllis Stanley was a major British supporting actress in the 1940's and portrayed "Daphne". She was appearing primarily on American television at this time.

Tor Johnson portrayed "Mr. Curry". Swedish wrestler Johnson appeared in most movies as either a wrestler, or strong man. Among his films my readers may not be familiar with are the musical comedy 1934's, "Kid Millions", starring Eddie Cantor, Ann Sothern, and Ethel Merman, the Ronald Coleman, Claudette Colbert, and Victor McLaglen, 1936, adventure, "Under Two Flags", the Ole Olson, and Chic Johnson, musical comedy, 1944's, "Ghost Catchers", Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's, 1944, "Lost in a Harem", and 1949's, "Mighty Joe Young", starring Terry Moore, Ben Johnson, Robert Armstrong, and "Mr. Joseph Young". However, it is the Ed Wood, Jr. movies that most people associate Tor Johnson with. He is buried at the "Eternal Valley Cemetery", ten-minutes up the street from my home.

The Basic Screenplay:

The year is 1872, the place is a prison in London, England, and "Dr. Gordon Ramsay" awaits his execution for murdering a man named "Curry". His claims of innocence rest upon dead ears, but a weird hope arrives in the form of the renowned surgeon, "Sir Joel Cadman". "Dr. Cadman" wants "Dr. Ramsay" as an assistant in some unethical experiments and offers him a means of escaping death. However, he must first die, or at least appear so from taking a potion, "Sir Joel" has named "The Black Sleep". The antidote must be administered in time, or death will be real. "Dr. Ramsay" agrees and the potion is administered.

The next morning "Dr. Ramsay" is discovered in his cell dead. "Dr. Cadman" is called to confirm the death, and he takes possession of "Ramsay's" corpse for burial. However, the next thing "Dr. Gordon Ramsay" knows, is that he is alive, in a coffin with "Odo" and "Dr. Cadman" at his side and a young woman is screaming in the background.

The woman, "Laurie Monroe", is being attacked by a large man called "Mungo".

"Dr. Cadman's" nurse, "Daphnae", is the only person that seems to be able to control "Mungo". She is able to quiet him down and leads him away. 

The young woman returns to her room and "Dr. Ramsay" is left wondering about what he has gotten himself into?

"Sir Joel Cadman" and "Daphnae" now enter one of the bedrooms and are looking at a comatose woman named "Angelina", portrayed by Louanna Gardner, in a very comfortable bed. She is "Dr. Cadman's" wife and the reason for all his experimentation.

"Angelina Cadman" has an inoperable brain tumor and "Sir Joel" is attempting to find a way to cure her by operating on other people's brains and "Dr. Ramsay" now assists.

Later, "Laurie Monroe" tells "Dr. Ramsay" that she believes she can trust him. "Laurie" reveals that "Mungo" is, was, her father "Dr. Monroe". Her father's current state was the result of an operation by "Dr. Cadman" on her father's brain. When "Cadman" is confronted by "Ramsay", he admits to the operation and that he has been working to reverse those effects. However, "Sir Joel Cadman" does not mention to "Dr. Gordon Ramsay" the condition of "Angelina Cadman" and the real reason for his experimentation.

Back in London, "Odo" slips "The Black Sleep" portion to a woman that knows the truth about "Mr. Curry's" murder, that "Dr. Ramsay" went to prison for. When the police, following a lead, arrive looking for her. "Odo" gets rid of the antidote that would have revived the woman as originally planned. 

While at the "Cadman" estate, "Dr. Ramsay" and "Laurie Monroe" have concluded that "Curry" was "Sir Joel's" last test subject and is probably still alive. They search the cellar dungeon for evidence, find other mad people as a result of "Dr. Cadman's" experiments, and finally locate a now blind "Curry". 

"Dr. Cadman", "Daphnae", "Odo", "Mungo", and "Casmir" capture "Laurie" and "Dr. Ramsay". What none of them realize is the keys to the cells has been dropped on the dungeon floor.

"Doctor Sir Joel Cadman" reveals to "Dr. Gordon Ramsay" the real reason he saved his life and informs the other about "Angelina". Adding he had expected to perform surgery on a woman subject, but tells "Ramsay" about "Odo's" mistake causing her death. Now, in the second floor operating theater, he will perform that surgery, assisted by "Dr. Ramsay" on "Laurie Monroe". "Ramsay" attempts to stop "Cadman", but "Mungo" stands guard.

An anesthetized "Laurie" is on the operating table, when the police arrive looking for "Odo". "Sir Joel" leaves, followed by "Daphnae", and "Gordon" now attempts to revive "Laurie" after he is able to drug "Mungo".

Freed from their cells and led by one of "Cadman's" experiments, "Borg", who believes he is "Bohemond the leader of the First Crusade in 1096", all of "Dr. Cadman's" subjects attack by first tossing "Daphnae" into the burning fire place, she comes out on fire screaming, and dies.

"Gordon" revives "Laurie" and is attacked by the also revived "Mungo", but the other subjects attack "Mungo".

"Dr. Cadman" holding "Angelina" enters the room, stops and backs away, but backing missteps and goes over a stair rail and plunges down to the first floor and his death with his comatose wife.

As more police officers arrive, "Gordon" and "Laurie" slip away in the confusion to a new life together.

Next, Basil Rathbone appeared as "The Chief Inquisitor", Boris Karloff as "Bishop Cauchon", Eli Wallach as the "Dauphin", and Julie Harris as "Joan of Arc", in the made-for-television movie, "The Lark", February 10, 1957, on the "Hallmark Hall of Fame".

Above, Rathbone, Harris, and Karloff.

On November 20, 1957, Basil Rathbone portrayed "The Duke", in "The United States Steel Hour's" production of Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".

Above, Jimmy Boyd as "Huck Finn", Basil Rathbone as "The Duke", and Jack Carson as "The King".

Except for director John Ford's, 1958 motion picture, "The Last Hurrah", starring Spencer Tracy, with Basil Rathbone fifth-billed as "Norma Cass, Sr.". Through 1961, the actor appeared only on television. Which included portraying British Prime Minister, "Benjamin Disraeli", on November 30, 1961, in the Hallmark Hall of Fame" production of "Victoria Regina", starring Julie Harris as "Queen Victoria".  

THE MAGIC SWORD premiered in Mexico on January 25, 1962

The original story line was closer to the original title that was dropped, "St. George and the Seven Curses". Both came from the motion pictures producer and director Bert I. Gordon. He had just directed the made-for-television, 1961's, "Famous Ghost Stories", which was nothing more than your poltergeist host, Vincent Price, introducing a shorten version of Gordon's 1960 murder ghost story, "Tormented", starring Richard Carlson. Which was actually the last feature film actually produced and directed by Bert I. Gordon. 

This movie would be followed by an unsold 1964 television pilot, "Take Me to Your Leader", about traveling salesmen from Venus. For the fans of his work, my article is, "Growing Up on a Diet of 'Mr. B.I.G. (BERT I. GORDON)': Giants, Little People and Grasshoppers", will be found at: 

The screenplay was written by Bernard C. Schoenfeld. He started writing in 1944, with the Franchot Tone, Ella Rains, and Alan Curtis, crime film-noir, "Phantom Lady". In 1952, Schoenfeld switched to television series writing, he wrote 15-episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", 1956-1959.

The Magical Cast:

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Lodac". Basil had just been in the 1962, Italian-French feature film, "Ponzio Pilato (Pontius Pilate)" portraying "Caiaphas". He followed this feature film with the next one I will be mentioning.

Estelle Winwood portrayed "Sybil". English actress Winwood had just been seen in "Calling All Bird Lovers", January 14, 1962, on American televisions "Dennis the Menace". She would follow this motion picture with the 1962 feature film, "The Notorious Landlady", starring Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, and Fred Astaire.

Gary Lockwood portrayed "Sir George". His first on-screen role was as a "Coast Guard Sergeant Siting at a Bar" in 1958's, "Onionhead", starring Andy Griffith. Eight other forgotten roles later, and Gary Lockwood was portraying the Knight that became "Saint George", Bert I. Gordon style. This was in the middle of his forgotten 1961-1962, television show, "Follow the Sun". After that shows last episode and three guest roles, Lockwood starred in the equally forgotten 1963-1964, television series, about a young Marine Corps officer, "The Lieutenant". Another twelve forgotten roles followed and than Gary Lockwood had psychic powers in the second pilot episode for Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek", shown as Episode Three, of Season One, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". That would be followed by fourth-billing in the 1968 western, "Firecreek", starring James Stewart, Henry Fonda, and Inger Stevens. Next, Gary Lockwood portrayed "Dr. Frank Poole", in director Stanley Kubrick's, 1968, "2001: A Space Odyssey".

Anne Helm portrayed "Princess Helene". Her first on-screen appearance was in Episode Twenty-Four, Season One, February 28, 1956, of "The Phil Silver Shows", entitled "Miss America". Ten more television roles and Anne Helm's first motion picture, 1960's, "Desire in the Dust", starring Raymond Burr and Martha Hyer. Then it was back to television appearances until this feature film. Which would be followed by more television appearances until co-starring with Elvis Presley and Arthur O'Connell in 1962's, "Follow That Dream". After which, it was back to those television appearances until the low budget horror entry, 1969's, "Nightmare in Wax", co-starring with Cameron Mitchell and Scott Brady. Then, you guessed it,  Anne Helm returned to television.

Liam Sullivan portrayed "Sir Branton". Sullivan started on-screen acting on March 16, 1949, on "NBC Television Opera", in "The Old Maid and the Thief". This was his first feature film, there would only be three more. Lian Sullivan was primarily a television actor.

A Rewritten Irish Myth:

The basis of the tale was the story of "St. George and the Dragon". The working title was now "The Seven Curses of Lodac", but it was changed, depending upon country of release, to "St. George and the Dragon", "St. George and the Seven Curses" and in the United States "The Magic Sword". In honesty there was no mention of "St. George", or "Saint" anyone. 

The "George" of the picture is a young man being raised by a somewhat inept sorceress after his "Royal Parents" died of the plague. 

The plot is very basic as "Lodac" kidnaps the daughter's of "Kings" and holds them for ransom, because they were responsible for the execution of his sorceress sister. Should the "King" not pay the ransom within seven days Their daughters are fed to "Lodac's" two headed dragon.

Young "George" has seen "Princess Helene" in "Sybil's" magic pool and has fallen in love with her, but he will also witness her kidnapping by "Lodac's" witch. 

Afterwards, George witnesses "Lodac" appear at "Helene's" father's court and make his ransom demand. 

"Lodac" knows there will be a hero attempting to save the "Princess", but warns of the seven curses on the way to his castle.

"Sybil" will not let "George" go against "Lodac" whom she has fought in the past. "George" tricks her, locks "Sybil" up in a room she will need a magic spell to open, if she can remember it. "George" than takes the magic sword, a shield, invulnerable suit of armor and a special horse the sorceress was saving for his 21st birthday later that year.

As he starts to leave, he passes six knights who were magically frozen and wishes they were able to join him. As he makes a pass with the sword they come to life and for freeing them join his quest to save "Helene".

In the past, "Sir Brandon" had found "Lodac's" magical ring which contains most of the sorcerer's  power. Brandon thinks he's made a deal with "Lodac" to save the "Princess" and gain a kingdom in exchange for the ring, but "George" and his six knights turn up at the castle and volunteer to save "Princes Helene". One of the Knights adding "Sir George's Love" and not endearing "George" to "Sir Brandon".

"Sir Brandon" appears to agree with the "King" that they should accompany him, but makes a comment about Seven Knights and Seven Curses prior to their leaving.

Bert I. Gordon creates some interesting characters in "The Magic Sword" besides "Lordac's Dragon".

At "Sybil's" house is a Siamese twin assistant.


There's a beautiful girl who is really the old hag witch to seduce one of "Sir George's" knights. The role is portrayed by two actresses. The beautiful seductress is French actress Danielle De Metz. While the "Hag" is portrayed by Maila Numi, best known to my generation as Los Angeles television's "Vampira", 1954-1955.

Below, Nurmi as "Vampira" from Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space".

There are several Dwarfs and other creatures in "Lodoc's" castle that the "Hag" is their leader.


There's a Giant Ogre to fight.

There is a cave with deadly Green Apparitions that turn knights and other into one of their own.

There is another curse of an invisible heat field that melts the skin off people. 

In the end, thinking he will have "Prince Helene" and a kingdom, "Sir Brandon" makes the mistake of handing "Lodac" his ring of power. "Brandon", first finds that "Helene" is really the old hag and next, his head in on "Lodac's' trophy wall.

"Sybil" escapes the room she was locked in, goes to "Lodac's" castle to fight him sorcerer to sorceress. While "George" fights "Lodac's" dragon to save the woman he loves.

EDGAR ALAN POE'S TALES OF TERROR premiered in New York City on July 4, 1962

A better title might have been producer and director Roger Corman's "Tales of Terror". All three stories were written by Richard Matheson, author of the novel prior to and the screenplay for "The Incredible Shrinking Man", and author of "I Am Legend", and several Roger Corman, Poe screenplays. My article, "Richard Matheson: The Screenplays and Treatments", can be read at:

This was a trilogy of three Edgar Allan Poe stories, "Morella", "The Black Cat", and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar". Vincent Price was in all three, Basil Rathbone was in the third.

Dying from a painful disease, "M. Ernest Valedmar", portrayed by Vincent Price, hires a hypnotist, "Mr. Carmichael", portrayed by Basil Rathbone, to alleviate him of the pain through different trances. "Mr. Carmichael" wants 'Valedmar's" wife, "Helene", portrayed by Debra Paget, and puts him in a special trance . Thus trapping "M. Ernest Valdemar's" soul between the world of reality and the world of the trance, making him unable to move and leave his bed. "Mr. Carmichael" refuses to bring back "Valedmar" soul so he could die in peace. "Carmichael" asks "Helene"  to marry him, but is refused. He attacks her, and "Valdemar's" putrid body rises from the bed it's in and kills "Mr. Carmichael".

Above, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, David Frankham portraying "Dr. Elliot", and Debra Paget.

On October 16, 1962, I got a frightening birthday present from Nikita Khrushchev, "The Cuban Missile Crisis" began with the threat of possible atomic war with the Soviet Union. Made and rushed into movie theaters 15-days later was:

TWO BEFORE ZERO premiering in New York City on October 31, 1962

This is an anti-Communist, semi-documentary, somewhat psychedelic, two character talk fest, with Soviet Union made news footage, interspersed within a weird history of communism. 

Producer and director William D. Faralla, major television 1950's and 1960's cowboy programs and "Lost in Space", paid and rushed Basil Rathbone and Mary Murphy to a sound stage to film their scenes between the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis and this pictures quickie release.

It was a very slanted, Cold War look, about Communism vs Democracy.

Basil Rathbone starts as a black-robed figure. Then in a black suit continues reading from a very large book, supposedly the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. He is the fear-monger spreading the web of communism


Mary Murphy, 1953's "The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando, and 1955's "The Desperate Hours" starring Humphrey Bogart and Frederic March, enters wearing a flowing white grown. She is "every woman" during history. She believes not in Communism, but God and the goodness of people bringing the world Democracy and she questions Rathbone's character between the different scenes from the Soviet film footage.

premiered in Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 1963

The motion picture was produced by the owners of "American International Pictures", James H. Nicholson, and Samuel Z. Arkoff. 

The motion picture was directed by Jacques Tourneur. Tourneur directed for producer Val Lewton, 1942's, "Cat People", 1943's, "I Walked with a Zombie", and 1943's, "The Leopard Man". In 1957, Tourneur directed "Night of the Demon" aka: "Curse of the Demon".

The screenplay was by Richard Matheson.

The Comic Macabre Cast of Characters:

Vincent Price portrayed "Waldo Trunbull". He had just been seen in 1963's, "Twice-Told Tales", and followed this picture with 1964's, "The Last Man on Earth", an Italian science fiction film based upon Richard Matheson's, "I Am Legend", for which he disowned the final picture, removing his own name and replacing it with a fictious one.

Peter Lorre
portrayed "Felix Gillie". Lorre was just in "The End of the World, Baby", October 24, 1963, on televisions "Kraft Suspense Theatre". He followed this feature with 1964's, "Muscle Beach Party", starring Frankie Avalon, and, Annette Funicello. My article, "PETER LORRE: Overlooked, or Forgotten Performances", can be read at:


Boris Karloff portrayed "Amos Hinchley". From 1954-1956, Boris Karloff was televisions "Colonel March of Scotland Yard". I've already mentioned 1957's "The Lark" with Basil Rathbone, that followed the last episode of "Colonel March". In 1958. he was in three horror entries, "The Grip of the Stranger" aka: "The Haunted Strangler", "Frankenstein 1958", where he was the creator of the monster, and "Corridors of Blood". On February 5, 1962, Karloff was in made-for-television version of the stage play, "Arsenic & Old Lace". Having fun with a character Raymond Massey played in the Cary Grant original 1944 movie, "Jonathan Brewster", whom the play said, looked liked Boris Karloff. Just prior to the motion picture, Boris Karloff starred in Italian horror master, Mario Bava's, 1963, "I tre volti della paura (The Three Faces of Fear)", that a British heavy metal band saw the English languish dub in Paris, France, and took the title for their group's name, "Black Sabbath". Boris Karloff followed this motion picture with 1964's, "Bikini Beach", starring Frankie Avalon, and, Annette Funicello.

Joyce Jameson portrayed "Amaryllis Trumbull". She had appeared in "How to Get Rid of Your Wife", December 20, 1963, on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour". co-starring with Bob Newhart and Jane Withers. She followed this movie with "Who Killed Jason Shaw?" on televisions "Burke's Law", starring Gene Barry, January 3, 1964.

Joe E. Brown portrayed the "Cemetery Keeper". Comedian Joe E. Brown started on-screen in 1927. As a young boy, in 1902, he ran away to join the circus, with his parent's approval and became an acrobat, and later he moved into vaudeville as a comic. In 1951, he portrayed "Cap'n Andy" in the Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, and Ava Gardner version of the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's, "Show Boat". In 1959, he portrayed "Osgood Fielding III", who doesn't care that Jack Lemon was a man in director Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot", co-starring Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. He was just one of the comedians in director Stanley Kramer's all-star comedy, 1963's, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World".

Basil Rathbone
portrayed "Mr. John F. Black". 

This was a black comedy with an interesting idea that didn't work. AIP had hoped to recreate the success of director Roger Corman's earlier that year movie, "The Raven". 

According to Eunice Sudak, in her 2012 work, "The Making of the Raven", Richard Matheson said of "The Comedy of Terror":

It didn't lose any money. They [AIP] told me that the title itself cost them a lot. It's such a contradiction in terms, though. Terror sells and comedy makes them go away, so it's like they're walking in two directions at once. But I thought it was very clever to do a take off of Shakespeare's, Comedy of Errors.... I think they were probably sorry they didn't use a Poe title, because Poe had a certain marketability. I guess they couldn't figure out how to market it. But it was the last one because I was getting tired of writing about people being buried alive, so I decided to make a joke about it

Basically, "Waldo Trumbull" acquired the ownership of a funeral parlor from his partner, "Amos Hinchley". With his assistant "Felix Gillie", to cut down expenses, they use one coffin for a funeral after the family leaves, they dump the deceased, and reuse the coffin. Add to this, that "Waldo" is a drunk and abuses his wife, "Amaryllis". "Gillie" is in love with her, but she still loves her husband.

While, "Amaryllis" is secretly poisoning her father, "Amos Hinchley" to get his fortune. Enter, the funeral parlor's landlord, "John F. Black", wanting to evict "Waldo" for way overdue rent. Leading to "Waldo" planning to murder a wealthy shipping magnate and then charging his family an exorbitant amount of money to bury him. 


In all fairness to those involved with this motion picture there was a two-time "Patsy" winner, the animal equivalent to the "Academy Award", in the movie. 

Rhubarb was the on-screen name for "Orangey" the cat. 


Back in 1962, the Soviet Union released the science fiction picture "Планета бурь (Planet of Storms)". 

Three Soviet spaceships, the Sirius, Vega, and Capella, are on their way from Lunar Station 7 to be the first spaceships to land on the planet Venus. On their way, Capella is struck by a large meteor and destroyed, after mourning the lost of the lives on the Capella. The two crews, on the Sirius, "Ilya, "Roman", and "Alyosha", on the Vega, "Ivan", "Allan", and the one-woman member "Masha", decide to go on to Venus. Even though the mission requires a third ship to complete, but word is received that the Arcturus will join them in two months. 

On Venus the story continues with the discovery of dinosaurs, prehistoric plants and other creatures, all in a poisonous atmosphere. With the men is their robot named "John", Masha" has been left in orbit to monitor transmissions from both Lunar Station 7 and the Arcturus. The question of was there human-like life on Venus is the subplot and that is answered when a small sculpture of a beautiful woman's head is discovered at the film's climax.

Roger Corman acquired the rights to this Soviet film and two others. He hired director Curtis Harrington, 1961's, "Night Tide", starring Dennis Hopper, to direct the American actors and re-edit the Soviet movie with his American sequences. Harrington used the name of John Sebatian.

For the American scenes, which are only of the monitors on Lunar Station 7, of the three space ships to Venus, Curtis hired Basil Rathbone and Faith Domergue for the main roles. Otherwise the Venus and space ship scenes are the Soviet filmed sequences dubbed into English.

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Professor Hartman".

Faith Domergue portrayed "Dr. Marsha Evans". Domergue had just been seen in "The Companeros", April 16, 1964, on televisions "Bonanza". She followed this movie with "Cry for Help", December 20, 1966, on televisions "Combat". My article on the most important year in the actresses career, "FAITH DOMERGUE: 1955 A.D." can be read at:

Apparently, Basil Rathbone appeared in a 1965 musical comedy from director Pablo Ferro entitled "Dr. Rock and Mr. Roll". As Scottish author Robert Lewis Stevenson is credited as a source for this motion picture. The title would imply this is a take-off on "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Listed as in this movie with Rathbone were ex-"Dead End Kids", "Little Tough Guys", "East Side Kids", and "Bowery Boys", Huntz Hall, and a unconfirmed, Sonny Bono. However, although we know the movie existed, I could not locate what it was about, or stills.

QUEEN OF BLOOD released on March 2, 1966

This film was made from the two other Soviet science fiction movies that Roger Corman had purchased the rights to and some footage not previously used from "Planet of Storms", with added American scenes directed by Curtis Harrington.

The Soviet Union science fiction movies are used for the special effects sequences. The two new movies used were:

Released, November 18, 1963, "Mechte navstrechu
 (Toward Meeting a Dream aka: A Dream Came True)". Is about an alien space craft going to the Earth that crash lands on Mars and an Earth rescue space craft is sent to assist.

Released, September 12, 1959, "Nebo Zovyot (The Heavens Bickens)", about a Soviet mission for the conquest of the planet Mars and the competing United States mission that gets in trouble and must be saved by the Soviets. The movie is a dream by a Soviet scientist hoping for a world where both sides get along with each other. Something only a science fiction movie could achieve.

What makes this motion picture interesting is that Roger Corman had Curtis Harrington take what special effects sequences he wanted to use for 1966's "Queen of Blood". However, earlier he had film student Francis Ford Coppola rewrite the screenplay for American audiences and direct that version using the name Thomas Colchart. The re-edited and dubbed Coppola version, "Battle Beyond the Sun", was released in 1962. Coppola added monsters and changed the storyline to bad Russians vs good Americans.

Queen of Blood:

The motion was directed by Curtis Harrington. Writing credit for the motion picture also goes to Curtis Harrington. Uncredited screenplay writing went to Mikhail Karyuhov, 1959's, "Nebo Zovyot", and 1963's, "Mechte navstrechu", and Otar Koberidze, 1963's, "Mechte navstrechu".

Five Main Roles Plus One Special One:

John Saxon portrayed "Allen Brenner". Saxon had eighth-billing on January 26, 1966, in "After the Lions, Jackals", on televisions "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre". He followed this picture with "The Art of Taking a Power", March 14, 1966, on televisions "Dr. Kildare", starring Richard Chamberlain.

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Dr. Farraday". 

Judi Meredith portrayed "Laura James". Using her birth name of Judith Boutin, she started appearing on television in 1955. After her first nine-episodes of "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show", Judith became Judi Meredith for her last fifteen-episodes into 1958. She would appear in twelve episodes, 1958-1959, of "The George Burns Show". From 1959-1960, she co-starred with Earl Holliman in the television series, "Hotel de Paree". In 1962, Judi Meredith was "Princess Elaine", opposite Kerwin Matthews in "Jack the Giant Killer".

Dennis Hopper portrayed "Paul Grant". Hopper had just been seen in "South Wind", February 14, 1966, on the television series "The Legend of Jesse James". He followed this movie with "Rendezvous with Yesterday", September 9, 1966, on producer Irwin Allen's television series "The Time Tunnel".

Above, compare Dennis Hopper's space suit and others below to the one's worn in "Nebo Zovyot".

Florence Marly portrayed the "Alien Queen". In the linked interview to the website, "The Terror Trap", Curtis Harrington speaks to the problem he had using the Czech-born French actress:
Yes, Florence was a personal friend of mine and I had to fight to get Roger to let me use her because she was an older woman. I'm sure he had some bimbo in mind, you know? So I fought for Marley because I felt she had the required exotic quality that would work in the role

Forest J. Ackerman portrayed "Dr. Farraday's aide". "Forrie", "4-E", wasn't just the co-founder of "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine. He was the literary agent for Ray Bradbury, Iaasc Asimov, Curt Siodmak, and Ron L. Hubbard. Just prior to this motion picture he appeared in a cameo in 1964's, "The Time Travelers", starring Preston Foster, Philip Carey, Merry Anders, and John Hoyt.

Curtis Harrington's Hybrid Screenplay:

The year is 1990 and space travel has been established since the first moon landing in 1970.

At the "International Institute of Space Technology", communications expert and astronaut "Laura James" monitors strange signals in outer space. She reports them to her superior "Dr. Farrady", who translates them to say an alien race is sending an ambassador to Earth.  

Later, "Laura" receives a video log that the alien ambassador's space craft has crash landed on Mars. A rescue mission with the space ship "Oceano" is launched. The crew includes astronauts "Anders Brockman", portrayed by Robert Boon, "Paul Grant", "Laura's" fiancé "Allan Brenner", and "Tony Barrata", portrayed by Don Eitner. "Laura" is the only female member of the "Oceano's" crew.

The "Oceano" travels through a sunburst and suffers some minor damage, before reaching Mars and the downed alien space craft. Locating the space craft, they find one dead alien, but no others. Contacting Earth and "Dr. Farraday", he reasons the other crew members may have been rescued and suggests the launching a small satellite to locate the others. "Allan" and "Tony" take the smaller craft, "The Meteor" to the Martian moon of Phobos", launch the observation satellite and find the other alien craft. Entering it they find one unconscious female alien. As "The Meteor" can only hold two, a flip of the coin, and "Tony" stays behind. 

"Allan" and the female alien return to the "Oceano". She regains consciousness and smiles at the three men, but not at "Laura". 

The alien refuses to eat, and will not let the crew take a blood sample of her. That night she hypnotizes "Paul" and drinks his blood.


The other astronauts decide to keep her alive by feeding her blood from the ships plasma supply. However, that supply runs out and she feeds upon "Anders".


The alien now goes for "Allan", but before she can feed on him, "Laura" appears. She attacks the alien and scratches her; the single scratch causes the alien female to bleed to death.

"Allan" figures out that the alien female was royalty, a queen, who like many members of Earth's royalty had been bred to other family members and was a hemophiliac. Hence, a simple scratch led to her death. 

When the "Oceano" returns to Earth it is found to be filled with her eggs. She was sent to Earth to breed and the story ends with "Dr. Farraday" and others deciding to study them.

Now it was time for Basil Rathbone to meet his greatest threat, the "Beach Party" gang!


This was the last of the "Beach Party" movies, that already had guest appearances by Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre. Now it was Basil Rathbone's time to meet the gang. For those who may be interested in the story of these movies, my article, "THE GHOST OF DRAGSTRIP HOLLOW MEETS THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI: The Story of the BEACH PARTY Motion Pictures" can be found at:

Selected Cast Members:

The original series had started with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. This movie had two different leads:

Tommy Kirk portrayed "Chuck Phillips". Like Annette he was a Walt Disney kid at the start of things for him. Kirk was "Joe Hardy" of the "Mickey Mouse Club", "The Hardy Boys" series. He had to shoot, making the audience cry, his dog in 1957's, "Old Yeller", and was 1959's, "The Shaggy Dog". While appearing in other Disney films, Tommy Kirk was twice "Merlin Jones", opposite Annette. He had also replaced Frankie Avalon in 1964's, "Pajama Party", again opposite Annette Funicello.

Deborah Walley
portrayed "Lili Morton". In 1961, Walley portrayed "Frances Lawrence" aka: "Gidget", in "Gidget Goes Hawaiian". In 1965, she was billed third after Frankie and Annette, in "Beach Blanket Bingo". Deborah Walley had just been seen in "Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine".

Some Interesting, not in cast order, members of the cast:

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Reginald Ripper".

Above far right is comedian Patsy Kelly portraying "Myrtle Forbush".

Boris Karloff portrayed "Hiram Stokely, a ghost". Karloff had just portrayed "Nahum Witley", in 1965, "Die, Monster, Die! aka: Monster of Terror" a British and American version of author H.P. Lovecraft's, 1927, "The Colour Out of Space". He would follow this picture with "The Night of the Golden Cobra", September 23, 1966, on the television series, "The Wild Wild West".

Above, Susan Hart, wife of "American International Pictures" co-founder James H Nicholson, portraying "Cecily the title ghost", with the dead Boris Karloff, discussing how they will help his heirs.

Harvey Lembeck portrayed his Marlon Brando rip-off from 1954's "The Wild One", "Eric von Zipper". Lembeck portrayed "Army Corporeal Rocco Barbella", 1955-1959, on televisions "The Phil Silvers Show", from 1962-1963, Lembeck switched services and became "Seaman Gabby DiJulio" on televisions "Ensign O'Toole", starring Dean Jones. He first portrayed "von Zipper" in 1963's, "Beach Party", this was his sixth movie in the role.

Nancy Sinatra portrayed and sang one song as "Vicki". This was Frank and Nancy's daughter's sixth on-screen appearance. My article, "Nancy Sinatra: In Eight Motion Pictures Reflecting A Generation, 1964 to 1968", can be found at:

Claudia Martin, Dean's daughter, center below, portrayed "Lulu". This was Claudia fifth of only six on-screen appearances between television and motion pictures.

The Very Basic and Typical "Beach Party" Story:

The recently deceased "Hiram Stokley" finds he has only twenty-four-hours to perform a good deed to get into Heaven. Teaming with his long-term ghost girlfriend, "Cecily". The two must stop "Hiram's" lawyer "Reginald Ripper" from claiming his estate for himself.


Above, Boris Karloff gazes at Basil Rathbone and Jesse White portraying "J. Sinister Hulk".

"Ripper" plans on frightening "Hiram's" heirs, "Chuck" and "Lili", and his cousin "Myrtle", from spending the night in his home. "Ripper" plans to push the haunted house story, but he runs afoul of three things. First, the "Beach Party" gang that comes with "Chuck" and "Lili". Second, the grit of that groups friend, "Myrtle", whose son is part of the gang, but third, the real ghost, "Cecily". This is a very good collection of old haunted house gags meeting the expected "Beach Party" movie routines.

Adding to the above is the arrival of "Von Zipper's Rat Pack" and their usual trouble.

In the end "Hiram" does his good deed and "Ripper" is defeated.

In May 1967, Basil Rathbone appeared for his last time on-screen switching the "Beach Party" gang for the "Grand Ole' Opry" gang, in "Hillbilly's in a Haunted House", a country-western musical comedy.

Philip St. John Basil Rathbone had a sudden heart attack and passed away on July 21, 1967, at the age of 75. RIP!


Gordon Douglas: The Little Rascals (Our Gang) - Giant Ants - and Francis Albert Sinatra

When asked to name a "Classic Film Director", depending upon how much you're into motion pictures, what's your favorite ge...