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Sherlock Holmes:Terror By Nigh

Basil Rathbone , Nigel Bruce , Roy William Neill    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Terror By Night offers a nice change of pace in the old Sherlock Holmes series of films starring Basil Rathbone as the great detective. The action takes place completely outside the confines of London and 221B Baker Street, centering on a train ride from London to Edinburgh. Holmes has been hired to safeguard an ill-fated diamond called the Star of Rhodesia on Lady Margaret Carstairs' trip home, but he's not alone. Good old Inspector Lestrade is also onboard, posing as a fisherman on holiday. Despite the presence of Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade, though, Lady Margaret's son is murdered and the jewel stolen. The jewel must be in one of the compartments onboard the train, and Lestrade quickly takes over the questioning and searching of the passengers. Dr. Watson - God bless him - also attempts his own investigation, which bears only ignominious - and comical - results.

There are a number of real characters onboard the train, each one of them suspicious in some way or other. There's a rather impertinent young lady accompanying her mother's coffin, a most disagreeable professor, an older couple concerned about the police presence around them, Watson's old friend Major Duncan-Bleek, as well as several train employees. The fact that we the viewers are kept unaware of the culprit's identity until the end is a definite plus - as is the fact that the guilty party turns out to be a jewel thief of much renown. There's as much light comedy as there is drama until the endgame is set in motion, and the ending offers a surprise or two that rescues the film from the realm of the merely average. Terror By Night is not the best of the Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, but it's certainly an entertaining, reasonably compelling entry in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Elementary... Jan. 23 2004
It had been years since I saw Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. It is always a good idea to trace something that has become a cliché back to its source. For better or worse, the character of Holmes will forever be inextricably linked to Rathbone.
The action in this film is similar to The Lady Vanishes or Murder on the Orient Express. Sherlock is hired to guard a valuable diamond. Of course someone is murdered on the train and he must solve the crime.
Watching this film feels, in a sense, like coming home. Sherlock is THE iconic detective and when he's around, you never worry too much because you are sure no one is going to get the better of him. He is a direct precursor to James Bond, except with more emphasis on intelligence. In many ways it is more entertaining to watch these old films than more modern entertainments. Here you know the acting is going to be good and the dialogue snappy. The film moves along at a brisk pace - in fact, it is so short it wouldn't even be considered a feature by today's standards. Nigel Bruce's Watson may not be as Arthur Conan Doyle imagined him, but it makes sense in the film series: one needs a comic counterpoint to Holmes' dry wit.
However old these films get, I find them very enjoyable.
The DVD itself is bare necessity, but the picture is good enough and the cost is very inexpensive.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Rathbone / Bruce films Jan. 8 2003
Not a whodunit really, because I don't think anyone could actually deduce the culprit from what we see on the film, but other than that, it's a VERY taught, furiously paced movie. It runs just over an hour, but is actioned packed. I don't mean actioned packed as full of fights and shooting, but lots of clever Holmes / Watson interactions, lots of colorful characters interacting wittily, lots of murders and a taut location. Putting the whole thing on this speeding train is great. Almost feels like an Agatha Christie telling of a Sherlock Holmes tail.
I find Inspector Lestrad to be at his most annoying, however. And the quality of the DVD itself is on every version I've seen average at best. Certainly very watchable, but the sound it a bit ragged. That's why this minor gem doesn't rate 5 stars from me.
On the whole, though, one of the best Rathbone as Holmes movies, with an engaging plot, tart dialogue, good location and a nice sense of humor. Is it recommended? Elementary!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Murder on the Scotland Express March 17 2004
The 11th film in Universal's series of Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone as the Great Detective and Nigel Bruce as his faithful companion, Dr. Watson.
With only one more film to go following this 1946 release, it's not surprising that there's little fresh about this entry, but it hardly matters. The draw is still Rathbone and Bruce, as well as Dennis Hoey's Inspector LeStrade, all of whom deliver typically energetic performances.
The setting is novel, though, with Holmes and Watson aboard a train bound from London to Edinburgh, acting as bodyguards for the "Star of Rhodesia," a precious jewel whose owner is murdered.
Of course, a train is the perfect setting for a mystery, but as "Murder on the Orient Express" would prove twenty-eight years later, the claustrophobic atmosphere severely limits the action. But with a brisk running time of only 60 minutes, "Terror by Night" never threatens to bore.
Brian W. Fairbanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all Sherlock Holmes fans Oct. 23 2003
If you are a fan of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes then this DVD will complete your collection of this actor's works. The picture quality of the film is far better than the VHS. The picture is clearer and the sounds are crisper. Some people may think it is not one of the best pictures Basil made, but no Sherlock Holmes collection will be complete without it. Basil and Nigel Bruce give such a wonderful performance that it grows on you every time you watch it. I have been waiting a long time to see all 14 movies on DVD, and I am happy to see that dream become a reality
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