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by Mark Irwin

The House of Fear (1944) was the fourth installment of the year in Universal’s Sherlock Holmes series, taking its lead (but not much else) from Doyle’s story “The Five Orange Pips.” While it’s not dramatically among the first-tier films, it’s definitely at the top of the list, required viewing in fact, for pipe-smokers. Pipes, pipe-smoke, pipe-talk and pipe shops all wreath their smoky way through the entire picture, with a tobacconist’s murder at the center of the plot (see Figure 38) and an empty tobacco jar serving fittingly as the final clue to the solution of the case.  Read more

by Mark Irwin

The Spider Woman (1944) is considered by many fans to be one of the finest of the series, and no wonder—you’ve got a series of (apparently) random “Pajama Suicides,” a femme fatale who, while not “The Woman” is nevertheless one of Holmes’ few worthy opponents and nearly on a par with Moriarty. Did I say there are deadly spiders? I hate spiders. Oh, and Holmes gets to fake his own death, which is always pretty cool. His near-death in the final moments of the film is also not to be missed.  Read more

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