Sherlock Holmes and the Green Woman is not a Christmas movie

green7If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, there’s plenty in The Woman in Green (1945) to like, such as murder, detective work, and Moriarty.  There are no Christmas trees, but the title promises a woman in green, although it is curious why they chose a title like that for a black and white picture.  Maybe if I squint hard enough, I can find out which one is the green woman.

I wasn’t watching this movie for the title, but to test a theory.  All the critics like this movie, including Leonard Malton, so I was wondering if it really was that good.  Much like the Robert Downy Jr movies, all the good stuff is thrown together into a blender, with a faster pace, and there are plenty of explosions.  Actually, there aren’t any explosions, but there is plenty of character dialogue and chit-chat.  There are some references to The Empty House and other Holmes adventures, if you’re quick enough.

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That’s an ugly hat

Sherlock Holmes is recruited by the police this time around, to investigate a serial killer loose in London, because the men in blue are stumped.  Women are being chopped up and mutilated, so Holmes is escorted to the local morgue to give his impressions.  While there, I couldn’t stop looking at his ugly, tweed hat.  Dang, that thing was ugly.  Anyway, I think the inspector and Holmes talked for a while, then went to the bar, no deerstalker in sight.  Holmes doesn’t wear the deerstalker cap in this movie, which may be Basil Rathbone already trying to distance himself from Holmes.

Hillary Brooke is the token female in this movie and she has some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard.  She throws herself at a rich guy, talks for a while, and gets involved in the mystery.  Seems the guy she has thrown in after is a murderer.  Or at least, he thinks he’s the murderer.  It’s pretty far-fetched.  Sir Gealgood goes to Sherlock Holmes with this preposterous story.

green3Sir Gealgood wakes up in a stupor, some severed fingers in his pockets.  So that means he must have killed somebody, right?  Uh what?  He doesn’t remember doing it and nobody saw him do it.  All he can do is try to piece together his forgotten memory.  I’ve got to say that at least the plot is original and moves things forward quickly, introducing new characters and elements.  Professor Moriarty makes an appearance only twenty minutes in.  He’s behind this whole thing.

The best scene is between Rathbone and Henry Daniell, who plays Moriarty.  He’s a character actor and puts a devious twist on everything he says.  I liked his performance.  He’s young here, a contemporary of Holmes, another thing the Robert Downy Jr film copied and did right.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Moriarty is also depicted as a contemporary.  Jeremy Brett’s Moriarty is older, as played by Eric Porter, but he’s no less vicious.  In fact, Porter seems more evil and determined than any younger version I’ve seen.  I think the characterization works either way, but they sell Moriarty’s intelligence in the scene with Basil Rathbone, no doubt for reasons of age and for the plot too.  The scene ends with the two of them threatening each other.  I like it.

  green6 Holmes discovers that Hillary Brooke is in league with Moriarty and is using hypnotism to turn men to evil.  After Holmes confronts her, she tries to hypnotize him, but he eyes her suspiciously and says, “Uhh, you can’t hypnotize me, I’m Sherlock Holmes, lady.”  He stands up and smirks.  Seeing his plan foiled, Moriarty makes a break for it, but falls off the roof and dies.  Too bad.

All in all, this is a good movie.  It has a great pace, but the scenes move so fast that it is hard to get deeply involved with the characters, and the ending seems rushed.  The scene I would have lengthened was the Moriarty/Holmes confrontation at Baker Street.  Also, it was interesting to see a woman cast as a villain doing Moriarty’s dirty work this time around, but Hillary Brooke’s dialogue needs a lot of work.  The scope is a little limited, but the movie does alright with what it has, and delivers a unique, Holmes adventure.

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