The Spider Woman Film Details
Overview: Sherlock Holmes investigates a series of so-called “pajama suicides”. He knows the female villain behind them is as cunning as Moriarty and as venomous as a spider.
Tagline: Grim mystery to hold you breathless!
Review: THE SPIDER WOMAN (Universal, 1943), produced and directed by Roy William Neil, the seventh installment to the “Sherlock Holmes” franchise starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, the fifth for Universal, ranks another agreeable entry as well as one of the shortest (62 minutes) in the series. The story begins with series of “pajama suicides” (spelled “pyjama” in the newspaper clipping montage) in the London district where numerous gamblers are found murdered in their beds. When a woman asks her husband, Robert, regarding to these reported suicides, “Where is Sherlock Holmes?” the next scene finds Holmes (Basil Rathbone) on a holiday in Scotland accompanied by his colleague, Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce). As Watson reads the newspaper stories while Holmes is fishing, it is Holmes, knowing about the case, who’s strongly convinced the suicides are actually murders. Moments later, Holmes becomes dizzy, faints and falls into the river. As Watson calls for Holmes, only his hat is seen floating about, followed by the latest newspaper headlines on the drowning death of Sherlock Holmes. It is later learned, to the astonishment of both Watson and Inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) of Scotland Yard that Holmes actually faked his own death in order to secretly go undercover and locate this well-organized gang leader, whom Holmes suspects in being a woman. Disguised as a Hindu named Raghni Singh, Holmes encounters the alluring Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard) at the gambling tables, who turns out to be more of a challenge for Holmes than his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty. Though the first in the series to eliminate “Sherlock Holmes” in the opening titles, it’s a wonder whether or not the movie was initially distributed as SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SPIDER WOMAN, considering an obvious inserted title, “The Spider Woman” super imposed over a different background, or possibly shortened prior to its theatrical release? Overall, THE SPIDER WOMAN does not disappoint its fans with its fine screenplay developed by Bertram Milhauser, and story lifted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story (title source not revealed in opening credits). Holmes, the master of disguises, benefits both film and the legendary crime solver posing as a cockney messenger and a slightly-bearded turban-wearing Hindu. Aside from Holmes and Watson’s near death experience from gas fumes and deadly spiders, it is Holmes himself, at the High Holborn Arcade, who ends up on the wrong end of the shooting gallery. Others in the cast include the recurring Mary Gordon as Mrs. Hudson; Arthur Hohl (Professor Adam Gilflower); Vernon Downing (Norman Locke); Alec Craig (Radik); Harry Cording (Fred Garvin); Teddy Infuhr (Larry, Andrea’s silent “nephew”); and Belle Mitchell (The Fortune Teller). Very much a showcase for Rathbone and Bruce, it’s no surprise that Gale Sondergaard gathers the most attention here. Her title role, no doubt, is enacted to perfection with her alluring smile and sinister eyes. For its title, THE SPIDER WOMAN gives some indication of a newly proposed film series for Universal. As much as THE SPIDER WOMAN offered this type-cast villainous the opportunity to venom as Holmes description of a “female Moriarty,” Sondergaard actually did get to play the leading role in a long forgotten and rarely televised Universal “B” product of THE SPIDER WOMAN STRIKES BACK (Universal, 1946) opposite Rondo Hatton and Brenda Joyce. Regardless of connecting titles and woman’s love for deadly spiders, the sequel in name only had Sondergaard assuming a different character portrayal altogether. For this particular Spider Woman, minus eight legs and cobweb surroundings, her Adrea Spedding definitely is deadlier than the male, especially for Sherlock Holmes, who labels her a “remarkable woman.” Available on video cassette (in the 1990s) and later DVD, THE SPIDER WOMAN, formerly part of “Sherlock Holmes Theater” package on broadcast television in the 1960s and 1970s, played on various cable stations over the years, most notably on Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 26, 2009). Next installment: THE SCARLET CLAW (1944). (**1/2)
Country: United States
Duration: 63 min
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Also known as: Sherlock Holmes va Zane Ankabooty,Паучиха,La femme à l’araignée,Жената с паяците,Sherlock Holmes e a Mulher Aranha,Sherlock Holmes in the Spider Woman,Edderkoppekvinden,Sherlock Holmes et la femme aux araignées,Das Spinnennest,Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman,The Spider Woman,Sherlock Holmes och spindelmysteriet,De vrouw met de spin,Sherlock Holmes,La femme aux araignées,La donna ragno,Sherlock Holmes és a pókasszony,Hämähäkkinainen,シャーロック・ホームズ 蜘蛛女,La mujer araña,A Teia de Aranha