Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror Film Details
Overview: When a Nazi saboteur jeeringly predicts to the nation new depredations via the radio ‘Voice of Terror’, the Homeland Security Inner Council summons Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) to help in the crisis. Holmes and his companion, Dr.
Tagline: THE MASTER MINDS OF MYSTERY!
Review: The first two Basil Rathbone – Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes outings (THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) are usually considered the best of the series, although several of the “modernized” ones (THE SCARLET CLAW, SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH, THE HOUSE OF FEAR) have really really clever mystery stories in them. This one, the first of the 20th Century FOX modern stories, is based on HIS LAST BOW. But it has an interesting modern source to the tale, as well as a secondary source from a non-Conan Doyle writer. The original Conan Doyle story is (chronologically) the last one in the canon (of 56 short stories and four novels by Sir Arthur). HIS LAST BOW was written in 1917, and was supposed to be a memoir of Holmes final espionage service for the British Government in wrecking the espionage work of one Heinrich Von Bork, the Kaiser’s most brilliant agent in England. There are references in it to zeppelins and other wartime machines and events (including the involvement of Irish – American allies to the Kaiser against the hated British). Suffice it to say that it has, what is the classic ending (in terms of dialog) for Holmes and Watson. This is the “There’s an east wind, Watson….” dialog, which actually ends this story. I am glad (at least for this much) that the screenplay writers knew enough to use this wonderful dialog to conclude the movie. To bring it up to date (1939 – 40), the story includes reference to the antics of one of the most aggravating people the British people faced between 1939 and 1945: Mr. William Joyce, a.k.a. “Lord Haw Haw”. There are elements of Joyce in the character of Meade (Thomas Gomez) and the basic story in the film about the radio broadcasts. Joyce was an Irish American (he was born in New York City), who moved to England in the 1920s. He was a very intelligent man, who felt he was ignored by too many inferior people, and harbored great resentments as a result. This is Meade to a tee. Joyce happened to have a wonderful speaking voice, but he looked rather ordinary. He gravitated to Fascist circles, soon rising in the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and becoming a leading speaker and propagandist for Sir Oswald Mosley (the would-be Fascist dictator of England). Mosley was quite an egomaniac, but so was Joyce. After awhile a split developed between the men, as Joyce felt that Mosley was depending too much on British democracy (which Joyce despised). Joyce increasingly looked with admiration at the Nazi model (more so than Mosley was ever willing to look). When the two nations drifted into war Joyce traveled to Germany and offered his services to Josef Goebbels. Goebbels knew a good thing when he could use it, so he agreed. Joyce (once war began) had a German passport that was dated prior to September 1, 1939. But he also had a British passport and an American passport. Joyce planned carefully to keep all three – just in case. Soon he began broadcasting in his nasal, but pleasing voice, as “Lord Haw Haw”. He was an expert in presenting brutality as an expected future way of life – Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda could take good lessons from Joyce’s still surviving propaganda recordings. For the first three years of the war the British public had to live through his broadcasts, on top of the Blitz by his allies in the Luftwaffe. At the time THE VOICE OF TERROR was made, everyone in Britain, the United States, and the world knew who was the model for that radio voice of doom in the movie. I don’t know if Joyce ever saw the film, but he probably would have dismissed it as allied propaganda (which it was). It might even have flattered him that he was targeted in it. At the time the Axis was winning the war (Stalingrad, El Alemein, and Midway were in the future). But as the war turned against the Axis, Joyce found that his role in Nazi circles was not as grand as he had hoped. Had they won against England, probably he would have been important (as Meade hoped to be in the film), but as England and the U.S. and the Soviet Union advanced (and were gradually joined by France in 1944), Hitler and Goebbels basically treated Joyce as a paid employee. He took to drink – he could see the war was going badly, despite the propaganda he spewed out. When the regime collapsed in ruins in May 1945, Joyce got shot by an Allied soldier, and was returned to the British to stand trial for treason. It’s an interesting trial (if you study the business about the three passports). To this day there is an actually good argument to say Joyce had not committed treason in 1939 – 45 because the German passport made him a German citizen. But his defense was brushed aside, he was found guilty, and he was hanged. The third element in the film was the novel, THE GREAT IMPERSONATION, by E. Phillips Oppenheimer. Set before World War I, it describes how a German aristocrat meets his exact double (Sir Everard Dominey) in Africa, and decides to kill him and take his place in British society in order to help German war plans. This is part of the conclusion of the film, regarding one of the council. It is a good film, because of the performances of Rathbone, Bruce, Henry Daniell, Reginald Denny, Evelyn Ankers, and (best of all) Thomas Gomez as the power-hungry/paranoid Meade. But it is not among the best of the Sherlock Holmes series. As for “Lord Haw Haw” it is not the only film that his character popped up in. Trevor Howard plays a character based on him in RUN FOR THE SUN with Richard Widmark.
Country: United States
Duration: 65 min
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Also known as: La voce del terrore,Шерлок Холмс и гласът на терора,Uhkaavat äänet,Шерлок Холмс и голос ужаса,Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror,Sherlock Holmes et la voix de la terreur,Sherlock Holmes och terrorrösten,Sherlock Holmes Saves London,シャーロック・ホームズと恐怖の声,Sherlock Holmes y la voz del terror,Sherlock Holmes és a terror hangja,La voz del terror,Sherlock Holmes e a Voz do Terror,Stimme des Terrors,Voice of Terror,La voix de la terreur