The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Photos

Movie Info

Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce make their second screen appearances as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Ostensibly based on the stage play by William Gillette, the film owes nothing to the play beyond the characters of Holmes, Watson, Billy the page boy and Professor Moriarty. Played with relish (and a bit of pickle) by George Zucco, Moriarty plots to steal the Crown Jewels, and also to confound Holmes by obliging the Great Detective to be in two places at once. Ida Lupino costars as an imperiled young woman who is seemingly plagued by an ancient family curse--a plot development that has been carefully stage-managed by the malevolent Moriarty. Basil Rathbone is excellent not only as Holmes but also in the guise of a cockney music-hall entertainer (if indeed that is Rathbone performing a buck-and-wing in longshot). The second of Twentieth Century-Fox's Holmes films (Hound of the Baskervilles was the first), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was the last in which Rathbone and Bruce were seen in a 19th century setting. In the subsquent Sherlock Holmes series at Universal, the exploits of Holmes and Watson were updated to the World War II years.

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Basil Rathbone
as Sherlock Holmes
George Zucco
as Prof. Moriarty
Nigel Bruce
as Dr. Watson
Ida Lupino
as Ann Brandon
Alan Marshal
as Jerrold Hunter
Henry Stephenson
as Sir Ronald Ramsgate
E.E. Clive
as Inspector Bristol
Arthur Hohl
as Bassick
May Beatty
as Mrs. Jameson
Peter Willes
as Lloyd Brandon
Mary Gordon
as Mrs. Hudson
Mary Forbes
as Lady Conyngham
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Critic Reviews for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (1)

It is not the sort of thing to be considered as a Work of Art: my point is simply that it is an exciting story told with more real movie art per foot than seven reels of anything the intellectual men have been finding good this whole year or more.

January 24, 2018 | Full Review…

Superior mystery film.

December 28, 2009 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Basil Rathbone still remains the definitive screen Sherlock Holmes for many of the character's fans.

December 6, 2009 | Full Review…

Director Alfred L. Werker shows off a flair for the material, and we get scenes that appear composed, lit, and shot expressly for the most evocative publicity stills.

April 6, 2006 | Full Review…

The perfect blend of mystery and comedy, showing off the series's potential for both.

March 13, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The best and most stylish of the Rathbone-Bruce Holmes series.

May 23, 2004 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes


Another excellent outing for Rathbone and Bruce as Holmes and Watson. This time Holmes faces his most well known nemesis Moriarty. The film begins with Moriarty being found innocent of murder, with Holmes bursting into the courtroom just a few seconds too late. After the courtroom scene we see Holmes and Moriarty talking together like real competitors, without the hate you'd find between most enemies. They certainly have admiration for each other, and this admiration makes the film so enjoyable. Despite the fact that people's lives and reputations are at risk, you can easily tell they enjoy competing with each other. Moriarty then sends Holmes on a number of wild goose chases to conceal his real crime. I did like seeing Moriarty by himself and his love for plants. His clearly showed him as having a limited connection with humans. A simple act of not watering his plants also showed his talents are similar to Holmes'. Unfortunately, telling the audience that the mysteries are wild goose chases means we are waiting for Holmes to catch up with us. Like the previous effort the setting becomes a character in itself. The occupied streets of London are just as cold, dark, and sinister as the moors. This kind of makes the murders even more devilish. Watson is used more for comedic relief, which is annoying at times, as he ends up getting blamed for things that go wrong. Rathbone is at the centre stage here and he holds it well. He is always calm, but adds a sense of urgency when needed to heighten our excitement. His disguise was once again brilliant, and I didn't guess it this time. A great stylish offering.

Luke Baldock
Luke Baldock

Super Reviewer

One of the earliest Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone in the lead is one of the better entries in the series. Rathbone and Bruce make a wonderful team but what helps separate this from the others is the casting of a very young Ida Lupino in the menaced maiden role, usually the endangered lady was a pretty but utilitarian actress of minor note. Ida was on her way up at this point and within the year would break through to the majors in "They Drive By Night" and her star quality shines through here making her plight and the mystery more involving. The film itself has good production values and moves at a brisk pace.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

It was okay. I was really bothered by the characterization of Watson, who was basically turned into a bumbling idiot and appeared to be more Lou Costello then the trusty companion of Sherlock Holmes.

Marion Ravenwood
Marion Ravenwood

Super Reviewer

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