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In Arthur Conan Doyle's books, Sherlock Holmes works during the late 1800's and is described as a consulting Detective, rather than a Private Detective. But when his character was adapted for the screen in the late 30's and early 40's by 20th Century, they remained faithful to the period. But when World War 2 broke out, Universal picked up the rights and adapted the stories to suit the war. They were essentially changed to be used as propaganda and Holmes was updated to suit the war. Voice of Terror was the first story to be adapted to suit the war, and stars Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.
At the beginning of the film, we hear the Voice of Terror over the radio, as he describes what plans Germany have for Britain, and the terrors that are taking place.
Some of those listening to the broadcasts are the Inner Security Council, who are totally unable to find out who the Voice of Terror is. The head of the council, Sir Evan Barham, has decided to engage Sherlock Holmes in the hope of opening a new line. Naturally, others in the council are against him at first. But after another accident in which the child of one of the council members is killed, they change their view and accept he must work for them.
Using a variety of different techniques, mostly to do with the radio, Sherlock Holmes starts to get results and quickly concludes that the Voice of Terror is much closer to home than anyone thought. Soon he and Dr Watson start to track the voice of terror. However, those behind the voice of terror have found out Holmes is on the case, Holmes and Watson are soon in danger, leading to a clever twist and a fitting climax.
Though this Holmes adventure and the other Black and Whites that were made with Basil Rathbone are somewhat theatrical at times, they really are fun and do add a different perspective to the character of Holmes. The Voice of Terror is a great instalment into the black and white series, and has a few twists and turns that keep you interested, with enough action to keep the film at pace. The fact that they are black and white only serves to heighten the sense of atmosphere, especially in the scene at the docks, and the final scene in the deserted building.
The acting in this is mostly theatrical, as was most acting of that time. But Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are both on form and do a great job as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. They both set the standard for the characters, and were only edged out 50 years later by Jeremy Brett's adaption in the 80's. J
Just a lot of harmless fun that keeps you guessing and has twists, turns and enough action to keep you interested.