The Spider Woman (1944)

Fun entry in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce,Sherlock Holmes series. Holmes battles a female villianess that must have been a fan of Dr.Fu-Manchu.

Seven men have died in what’s been called Pajyma suicides. On a fishing trip, Holmes finds an article under Watson’s hat about the crimes. He says he’s given up looking into crime. He tells Watson he’s had dizzy spells. Holmes faints and falls into the river and disappears.

Back in London the papers report his death. Watson and Mrs.Hudson (Mary Gordon) start gathering up Holmes’ records for the British Museum. Inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) comes by. He wants a pipe to remember Holmes by. He leaves.

Now at the door is a postman. Everyone watching this knows who he really is. Watson takes a while to catch on. The postman insults Holmes and Watson knocks him down.  Now he knows. Holmes said he had to fake his death so he could look into the murders. He says they’re being done by a woman.

He disguises himself as a military officer from India with a paralyzed arm. The paper prints the story of his visit. Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard) arranges for him to come to a casino. Holmes writes a bad check,  loses, and walks into a back room. Adrea follows as he’s just about to shoot himself.

He says he has five thousand pounds he can’t touch so he can’t cover the check. She says she can arrange to get him a loan. He has to sign an insurance policy making the lender his beneficiary in case he dies.

Still in disguise he visits her and has some tea. She “accidentally” spills some on his hand. It’s obvious they’re on to each other. Holmes stays in a cheap flat. Late at night a man with a suitcase climbs the roof. Holmes is asleep and Lestrade is outside his door.

Holmes said he wanted to find out the murder method. A poisonous spider crawls through the air vent and heads right for Sherlock. It’s only a mask in the bed and Sherlock makes fast work of the spider. The man who put it there runs for the roof with Holmes and Lestrade in hot pursuit.

Holmes and the bad guy shoot it out. Holmes is the better shot. He and Lestrade find the suitcase. It’s got numerous air holes in it. By the vent they find the footprint the size of a small childs.

Holmes knows the racket Adrea and her gang are involved in and what’s behind the suicides. Now the cat and mouse game is afoot. The ending has some events involving Watson at a shooting gallery that stretch credibility a mile. In this case it doesn’t matter because this is an entertaining movie.

Gale Sondergaard had an almost fifty year career in movies and TV. Her TV appearances included episodes of “It Takes A Thief”, “Get Smart” and “Ryan’s Hope.”

Gale Sondergaard

About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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