Ankers, Rathbone Rock!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's great fun to watch the Queen of Screams--Universal's Evelyn Ankers--finally able to do some acting. In Pearl, she portrays one of her rare villianess' (you should see her strut her stuff as Illona in the camp classic "Weird woman". As Naomi, she portrays a cockney dishwasher, a bookish clerk of antiques, while all the time terrified by The Creeper--played by real-life acrogomaliac, Rondo Hatton. No one can display terror as la Ankers: her blue eyes widen, she uses her palm to press against her temple, her breathing quickens and usually there's a blood-curdling scream. There's plenty of Universal fog-machines at work here with Rathbone deftly solving the murders (along with Dr. Watson-Nigel Bruce). Ankers wrote in her memoirs that the set of Pearl was unusually British and droll. She and Nigel addressed Basil Rathbone--as Rasil Bathbone. The spry but elderly Nigel flirted with Ankers who took it with good humor but terrified her admirer when she brought her new husband on the set, B-movie king, Richard Denning, who had just joined the Navy since this was during World War II. Sharp little gem of a thriller. Wish Universal would put all the Sherlock Holmes movies on tape, or in a boxed series. Especially "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror' which showcases Ankers talents and beauty more than any other flick she made--with the exception of "The Mad Ghoul.""
A highlight in Holmes' film career
B. W. Fairbanks | Lakewood, OH United States | 01/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In some quarters, "The Pearl of Death" is considered the best of Universal's 12 Sherlock Holmes films if only because, unlike most of the others, it is generally faithful to one of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, in this case "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons." But the fact is that it's not as effective as "The Scarlet Claw" which directly preceded it, nor is it as entertaining as several other entries in the series ("Spider Woman," "House of Fear"). Nonetheless, it remains a highlight in the legendary sleuth's film career.Director Roy William Neill once again turns out the lights and heightens the gloom with his customary dark shadows giving the film beautiful atmosphere, and Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are as reliable as ever. Cranking out an average of three Holmes films a year, you could expect them to have grown weary of their roles but neither ever showed the slightest hint of fatigue.As for the villains, Rondo Hatton steals the show as The Creeper, but he almost inspires more sympathy than dread. Voted the most handsome boy in his high-school class and immensely popular due to his good looks and athletic abilities, Hatton was exposed to poison gas in World War I and left horribly deformed, a condition that Hollywood's ever so sensitive "dream factory" was happy to exploit. After small roles in "The Ox Bow Incident" and "In Old Chicago," he became a star through his encounter with Sherlock Holmes and was publicized by Universal as the "Monster Without Makeup." Whoever came up with that tag may have been more deserving of being called "The Creeper" than Hatton, but...oh well, enjoy the movie. It's a good one."
Sherlock Holmes against the Hoxton Creeper. He must protect
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 11/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""One of two things has happened. Either the woman he bumped into was an accomplice, in which case she has the pearl, or he managed somehow to conceal it in his flight."
The pearl, of course, is the cursed Borgia Pearl, an object of rich men's lust. The "he" is Giles Conover (Miles Mander), a master criminal as cruel as he is clever, as contemptuous of men as he is unmoved by women.
The Borgia Pearl has been the object of criminal stratagems since it arrived in London for display in the British Museum. The director of the museum is immensely proud of how he has harnessed electricity to warn of any untoward action involving the museum's objects. But what happens when Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) apparently makes a mistake. And what happens when the electricity doesn't work.
It will be Sherlock Holmes, aided by his game but confused partner, Watson (Nigel Bruce), against Giles Conover. Holmes makes his disdain for Conover clear. "I don't like the smell of you -- an underground smell, the sick sweetness of decay. You haven't robbed and killed merely for the game like any ordinary halfway decent thug. No, you're in love with cruelty for it's own sake."
Little does Holmes realize that Conover has a creature of his own...a brute whose face is the result of a disorder of the pituitary gland. Watson might call it acromegaly. Most laymen would say it's the Easter Island Statue Syndrome. It's not long before Holmes must deal not only with Conover, but also with this creature...the Hoxton Creeper (Rondo Hatton). "A monster, Watson," Holmes says, "with the chest of a buffalo and the arms of a gorilla. His particular method of murder is back breaking. And it's always the same...the third lumbar vertebrae." "How horrible," says Watson.
Does Sherlock Holmes best the Creeper? Does he recover the Borgia Pearl? Does Conover taste the bitter brew of utter defeat? You'll get no spoilers from me.
Some think macaroni and cheese is the perfect comfort for what ails you. I think it's Rathbone and Bruce. People can argue about which actor has been the best Sherlock Holmes, but there is something about Rathbone's style, earnestness, profile and line delivery that makes me sit back and smile every time I watch him play The Great Detective. All that Victorian gaslight, fog and cobblestones help, too. With some strange alchemy, the Holmes movies with Rathbone have turned into an elixir of kitsch, style, remembrance of things past, satisfaction and noble causes. Mac and cheese doesn't come close.
Be sure to buy the MPI release, which has an excellent restoration by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. There are no extras."
Orlock | Ottawa,Canada | 05/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say I was so excited to see that all 14 Rathbone and Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies were remastered and made available!! These are classic must see gems!!! Pearl of Death is one of the better films."