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Film / The Baker Street Dozen

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A crime a dozen!
"Sherlock Holmes, the immortal character of fiction created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is ageless, invincible and unchanging. In solving significant problems of the present day he remains ~ as ever ~ the supreme master of deductive reasoning."
Opening Title Card

The Baker Street Dozen is the Fan Nickname for the twelve Sherlock Holmes films released by Universal Studios between 1942 and 1946 starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. The two had previously played the roles in the 20th Century Fox productions of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, both released in 1939. Fox would lose the rights to the stories due to a dispute with the Conan Doyle Estate (the Estate wanted Fox to do only films based off Conan Doyle's stories, while Fox was willing to do original pastiches). But Rathbone and Bruce were still busy playing the parts on radio and would continue to do while they were making the Universal films.

When Universal picked up the rights they decided to adapt the stories as a series of B-Movies loosely based on Doyle's stories due to the fact that World War II was raging on. And while Fox's films were set during Victorian London with lush production values, Universal set the films during the present day. The first handful of films were propaganda pieces to boost morale with Holmes battling the Nazis and spies, before the films morphed into standard mystery films.

The film series ended in 1946 because Basil Rathbone, after playing Sherlock Holmes in fourteen films and over a hundred radio shows, finally got tired of the role and decided to move on — a major factor was when he lost the role of Lord Henry Wotton to George Sanders for MGM's 1945 production of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Unfortunately for him, he was typecasted for life and nothing he did could escape the shadow of the Great Detective. Nigel Bruce on the other hand was more than happy to continue playing Dr. Watson and kept playing him on radio a year after Rathbone left with Tom Conway (George Sanders' brother) playing Holmes.

Universal failed to keep ownership of the films and four of them: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, The Woman in Green, Terror by Night, and Dressed to Kill ended up in the Public Domain. The others changed hands several times, resulting in rather poor copies being circulated. In 1993, the UCLA Film and Television Archive with additional funding from Warner Bros. and Hugh Heffner began the long and painstaking process of restoring and preserving all twelve films using the best elements they could find; in some cases 16mm film copies had to be blown up to match missing elements from 35mm film copies. The restoration process was completed in 2001, and the films were all released in a DVD boxset (along with the two Fox films) in 2006 by MPI Home Video.

These films are favorites of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and they heavily influenced their own modern-day Holmes adaptation Sherlock.


  • Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) — inspired by "His Last Bow"
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943) — inspired by "The Dancing Men"
  • Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)
  • Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943) — inspired by "The Musgrave Ritual"
  • The Spider Woman (1944) — inspired by "The Sign of Four" and "The Final Problem"
  • The Scarlet Claw (1944) — inspired by the gothic trappings of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Sussex Vampire"
  • The Pearl of Death (1944) — inspired by of "The Six Napoleons"
  • Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear (1945) — inspired by "The Five Orange Pips"
  • The Woman in Green (1945) — inspired by "The Empty House"
  • Pursuit to Algiers (1945)
  • Terror by Night (1946)
  • Dressed to Kill (1946)

These films provide examples of:

  • Adaptational Dumbass: Dr. Watson. In Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, Watson is a foil to Holmes insofar as he lacks the latter's unique imaginative genius, but he's nevertheless an intelligent and competent man, fit to be a genius's assistant and chronicler. In these films, he's a complete idiot, even more so than in The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.
  • An Aesop: In The Pearl of Death, an aesop about the power of money, greed and fear in people. The pearl is not cursed, it's completely mundane; it's just every group who tried to find and steal it ended up fracturing as the individuals double-crossed each other to take the pearl for themselves and killed each other in the process, leaving the pearl lost and unclaimed.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: In Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear, Watson is hustled out by a constable who does not believe he is Dr. Watson. "And I'm Mrs. Miniver!"
  • Angry Guard Dog: In The Scarlet Claw, Judge Brissom lives as a recluse in a fortified house guard by an angry German shepherd.
  • Anyone Can Die: Loyal government agents and helpful associates of clients aren't safe. Neither is Kitty, the female lead in The Voice of Terror or teenaged ingenue Marie in The Scarlet Claw.
  • Auction: The plot of Dressed to Kill is kicked into action when Colonel Cavanagh misses the auction where the three music boxes are being sold, and the gang is forced to track down the other buyers and acquire the boxes by other means.
  • Banging for Help:
    • In Dressed to Kill, Holmes and Watson arrive at the Kilgore home to find it seemingly empty. Once inside, Holmes hears a banging noise and discovers the Kilgores' young daughter Bound and Gagged in the cupboard, kicking on the door to attract attention.
    • Lestrade bangs on the wall and screams to be let out after he gets lost in a secret passage during Sherlock Holmes Faces Death.
  • Battle Butler: In Dressed to Kill, Mrs. Courtney's chauffeur Hamid doubles as her personal enforcer. And he sometimes takes it upon himself to dispose of men he thinks are getting too close to his mistress.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Watson and Lestrade rescue Holmes twice in The Secret Weapon.
  • Bitter Almonds: In "The House of Fear'', Holmes tells Captain Simpson that someone is trying to poison and hands him his brandy glass and tells him to smell it. Simpson sniffs the glass and detects the odour of bitter almonds. However, Holmes later reveals to Watson that he spiked Simpson's brandy with almonds to see his reaction to someone trying to poison him.
  • Black Spot: In The House of Fear, the murders start after the first member of the Good Comrades receives a envelope containing seven orange pips. After he dies in a fiery car wreck, a second member receives an envelope containing six pips. The pattern continues, with each man marked for death receiving an envelope containing a number of orange pips corresponding the number of surviving Good Comrades.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Inspector Lestrade shoots a gun out of Professor Moriarty's hand to save Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.
  • B-Movie: These films were made very cheap very quickly.
  • Bodybag Trick: In Terror by Night, the killer is smuggled on board the train concealed in the false bottom of a coffin.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Professor Moriarty originally intends to kill Holmes off quickly, but Holmes goads him into coming up with something "more creative," giving an example himself of the sort of death trap he would use if he had Moriarty at his mercy. Moriarty decides to prove his superior intelligence and creativity by... using the exact idea that Holmes just came up with! He does at least stick around to watch the death trap in action, and prepares to shoot Holmes when he decides it's taking too long; but he waits a bit longer than he should have, and Watson rescues Holmes Just in Time.
  • Bookcase Passage: Moriarty has one in his hideout in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. It even comes with a trap for anyone who tries to follow him through it.
  • Book Safe: Holmes conceals the parts of Dr. Tobel's bomb sight inside a pair of hollowed out books in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon.
  • Boring Insult: In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes talks himself out of being shot dead on the spot by telling Professor Moriarty that a man of Moriarty's genius ought to be able to come up with something more creative. He then goads Moriarty into giving him a slow, lingering death that gives The Cavalry time to arrive.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes is bound and gagged by Moriarty before being stuffed into the false bottom of a sea chest for transport.
    • In The Spider Woman, Holmes again is bound and gagged behind a moving target in a shooting gallery. Spedding hopes that Watson would accidentally shoot him but Holmes is able to get out on time before that happens.
    • In The Scarlet Claw, the killer leaves Judge Brisson's housekeeper gagged and bound to a chair when he takes her clothes and disguises himself as her in order to get close enough to the judge to murder him.
    • In The House of Fear, the criminals capture Watson. When Holmes rescues him, he is bound and gagged and the criminals are planning to toss him off their ship as they make their getaway.
  • Breakout Villain: Rondo Hatton's Hoxton Creeper from "Pearl of Death" went on to be the Villain Protagonist in two later Universal Horror films (and more were planned before Hatton's death).
  • Brownface: A rare instance where this is the case in-universe: In The Spider Woman, Holmes spends some scenes disguised as an Indian man, in a plot to trap the titular villain.
  • Canada, Eh?: The setting of The Scarlet Claw. Holmes and Watson are in Quebec attending a conference on the occult, before they get roped into solving the murder of the wife of one of the other attendees who lives in the quaint little village of "La Mort Rouge".
  • Captured on Purpose: In The Secret Weapon Holmes deliberately gets himself captured so Moriarty won't get Professor Hoffner, goading Moriarty into using an agonizingly slow death trap with a way for Watson and Lestrade to find him, and setting a trap for Moriarty beforehand.
  • Car Fu: Sgt. Thompson is run down and killed (off-screen) while tailing the criminals in Dressed to Kill.
  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: In Terror by Night, Holmes explains that he knew Inspector MacDonald was an imposter because he failed to handcuff Moran, got in the way during the fight, and because Holmes has met the real MacDonald.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes has been tied up, gagged and stuffed inside a sea chest to be thrown overboard. Watson and Lestrade chase away the henchmen who were carrying the chest.
    Holmes: You needn't have yelled at them so abruptly. They dropped me on my head. Moriarty would have been delighted.
  • Composite Character: In "Terror by Night", Colonel Moran is given a fondness of mathematics, a trait usually associated with Moriarty who was a professor of mathematics.
  • Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: In The Spider Woman, Holmes deduces that a series of apparent suicides were really murders because "suicides invariably leave notes behind them," and none of these people did. Actually, no more than about 20% of suicides leave a note.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: Mrs. Monteith in The House of Fear is the housekeeper of Drearcliffe House and tends to the needs of The Good Comrades. She is the one who grimly delivers the envelopes containing the oranges pips to those who are marked to die. Dour and taciturn, she could easily be Mrs. Danvers' sister.
  • Curtain Camouflage: In The House of Fear, Watson hears a noise and starts searching the lounge in the castle, but completely fails to notice a pair of shoes sticking out from the bottom of the curtains.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Moriarty lampshades in The Secret Weapon that Holmes disguising himself as the scientist he wants to kidnap results in him getting captured instead.
  • Disguised in Drag: In The Scarlet Claw, the killer leaves Judge Brisson's housekeeper Bound and Gagged and takes her clothes in order to get close enough to the judge to murder him.
  • Dramatic Spine Injury: In The Pearl of Death, the Huxton Creeper is noted for his modus operandi, which involved violently breaking his victims' spines. This gets turned against his own employer when Holmes suggests that the Femme Fatale of the film, whom the Creeper had a crush on, would be hung for her part in the crimes.
  • During the War:
    • Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror dealt with a German propaganda station that happened to deliver secret messages to saboteurs within Britain.
    • Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon revolves around an inventor who has developed a new bomb sight which he intends to offer to the British war effort, if German agents assisted by Professor Moriarty don't get him first.
    • In Sherlock Holmes in Washington, a British agent carrying a secret document to the USA is murdered by enemy spies, but manages to hide the document. Holmes and a German spy match wits while searching for the document.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes and Watson easily break the first three lines of Dr. Tobel's secret message after making a slide of it (long story), but cannot break the fourth line. Moriarty, who had kidnapped Tobel and intercepted the message, is also unable to break the fourth line, as shown by him torturing Tobel to get him to reveal what it says. Watson says to Holmes, "I can't think anymore. All these letters and figures running through my brain all twisted around." Holmes remarks, "Twisted around. That's it!" and reverses the slide - Tobel had mirrored the fourth line as a precaution in case the message found its way into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, one of Moriarty's henchmen accidentally knocks over a glass of water onto the turned-over message, allowing the ink to bleed through and Moriarty to break the fourth line.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Played straight in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror, in which a Bad Guy Bar full of crooks decides to help find a network of Nazi saboteurs led by the titular broadcaster after the Femme Fatale Girl of the Week gives them a Rousing Speech about how the Germans hate them all and they should be declaring Enemy Mine for the sake of victory.
    • Averted in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon: Moriarty has no problem working with the Nazis if it suits him.
  • Everybody Did It: A variant occurs in The House of Fear. The members of The Good Comrades are being picked off in a variety of gruesome ways that leave their bodies unrecognizable. When Holmes investigates, he discovers that the six 'murdered' members are actually faking their deaths and intend to frame the innocent seventh member for the murders, and disappear overseas with insurance money.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: The events of Terror by Night unfold on an overnight train trip from London to Edinburgh, and the movie ends before the train reaches Edinburgh.
  • Faking the Dead: In The House of Fear, the murders of the members of The Good Comrades turn out to be an elaborate case of Insurance Fraud, with the 'victims' faking their deaths and leaving behind unrecognizable corpses, pocketing the insurance payouts, and then absconding while leaving behind the one innocent member of the club to take the fall for the 'murders'.
  • Flanderization:
    • Watson was comic relief in the Fox films but still competent. Here he's a complete buffoon, to the point of having a shootout with an inert suit of armour thanks to the lights being out and a storm.
    • Inspector Lestrade is almost totally useless without Holmes, a far cry from the competent but unimaginative inspector of Doyle's writings.
  • Follow That Car: While tailing the suspects from the toy store in Dressed to Kill, Sgt. Thompson hails a cab and says "Follow that cab" to the driver, who gives him a dubious look and starts to object until Thompson shows him his warrant card, at which point the cabbie complies.
  • Foreshadowing: In "The Scarlet Claw", Watson refers to "The Invisible Man" by G. K. Chesterton, wherein the murderer was dressed as a postal worker. Later we discover that Potts, the local postman, is the killer.
    • Interestingly, you could argue this is even foreshadowed in the prior movie where Holmes makes the remark that "nobody looks twice at a postman".
  • Gardening-Variety Weapon: In The Scarlet Claw, the killer uses a five-pronged garden weeder to murder his victims to make it look like the work of a beast.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon makes a sly reference to Holmes' cocaine habit, in violation of Section I of the Hays Code. Holmes, captured by Moriarty and stalling for time, suggests to Moriarty that instead of just shooting him, he should try something "more creative" —like inserting a needle into his vein and slowly drawing out all of his blood. In response to this suggestion, Moriarty snidely quips:
    Moriarty: The needle to the last, eh, Holmes?
  • Genius Ditz: Well, hardly a genius. But despite his bumbling, dim-witted nature, Watson is nonetheless depicted as a perfectly competent physician.
  • Going by the Matchbook:
    • An important clue in Sherlock Holmes in Washington is that the microfilm that the Nazi agents had been hunting all over the place for was concealed within a matchbook that the British agent they killed was carrying.
    • In The Woman in Green, Sir George uses his dying strength to grab and firmly grasp a matchbook from Bancroft House as a Dying Clue.
  • GPS Evidence: Used pretty often in Sherlock Holmes stories, but to provide an example, in the third act of Sherlock Holmes in Washington, the enemy spies Holmes is hunting down kidnap the Girl of the Week and leave behind a teeny-tiny sliver of painted wood, which Holmes is able to determine with some chemistry tests was treated with a very ancient kind of paint, which means that it belongs to an antique. As a result, he starts to look through Washington's antique shops in a hurry and, sure enough, eventually finds a store that has a chair being exhibited in the same color and that has a tiny hole where the sliver should fit.
  • Grave Robbing: In order to test a theory in The House of Fear, Holmes has Watson dig up a recent grave in the village graveyard. The coffin is empty, thereby proving that the conspirators have been stealing bodies from the graveyard and using them to fake their own deaths.
  • Hastily Hidden MacGuffin: In The Pearl of Death, a stolen pearl is hastily hidden in a plaster bust of Napoleon — one of a set of six, which are then sold to various customers. The Creeper is sent to kill the owners of the busts, then break all the owner's dishware to disguise the fact that they're just interested in the Napoleon.
  • Human Chess: In Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, Holmes sets up a human chess game to decipher a clue.
  • High-Class Glass: In Dressed to Kill, 'Stinky' Emery, an old school friend of Watson (and an Upper-Class Twit), sports a monocle.
  • Hypno Fool: In The Woman in Green, Watson is hypnotized after declaring the whole thing to be fraud. He comes out of it wondering why he's no longer wearing shoes or socks. Later on the trope is subverted by Sherlock Holmes after the same hypnosis fails to do anything to him.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Scarlet Claw is set in the Canadian village of "La Mort Rouge" (French for The Red Death) and is haunted by a local monster.
  • Insurance Fraud: In The House of Fear, the murders of the members of The Good Comrades turns out be a case of Faking the Dead. The members are collecting the insurance payments that are being paid to club, and then plan to disappear; leaving their dupe Bruce Alastair behind to take the fall for their 'murders'. How they collected their payouts after their own apparent deaths is left unexplained.
  • Interrogated for Nothing: The Girl of the Week in Sherlock Holmes In Washington accidentally took the matchbook in which a British secret agent hid some microfilm and the Big Bad believes her to be a willing accomplice of the agent, so he kidnaps her and orders her to tell him where the film is (while using the book's matches to light up his cigarettes). The girl makes clear repeatedly that she has no knowledge whatsoever of what he wants, and the villain kindly says he "believes" her but needs to be sure and orders one of his goons to torture her (off-screen) while we cut to Holmes trying to find out where the enemy spies are hidden.
  • Institutional Apparel: In Dressed to Kill, the prisoners in Dartmoor are shown wearing the old-style 'broad arrow' prison uniforms: a style that had gone out of use about 25 years before the film was made.
  • Invincible Hero: Sherlock Holmes himself. Invoked on the opening title card before each film — and an understandable invocation because of the fact that various of the films were done as propaganda pieces during the early stages of the second World War, when the Germans felt invincible.
  • Jack the Ripoff: The main plot of The Woman in Green.
  • Joker Immunity: Moriarty. He has a habit of dying off screen, before popping up in a later film. His death in "The Woman in Green" seems to be permanent though.
  • Just Between You and Me: Averted in The Scarlet Claw when the villain's monologue is interrupted by a rescue.
  • Just Train Wrong: In Terror by Night the Scotch Express is seen leaving a studio-bound version of Euston Station. The carriages are a good attempt at British style stock, but slightly too old looking to be on a main line express either side of the war, and further more they are in a two tone livery. It was two years too early for the nationalised railways' carmine and cream, it's too dark for the LNE Rs' occasional green and white and the GWR didn't go to Scotland. The LMS painted its' coaches maroon all over (Crimson Lake technically) and all the companies were using dowdier wartime liveries for the preceeding six years. More damningly, a German loco later turns up in stock footage.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The Voice Of Terror climaxes with Holmes figuring out that the campaign of terror orchestrated by the titular propaganda station is a ruse to make British intelligence and military unable to ignore its messages and eventually drive them all away from the coast in the hunt for saboteurs, leaving Britain wide open to a full-blown German invasion.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Nigel Bruce's Dr. Watson.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The twist at the end of Pursuit to Algiers is that Holmes has disguised the about-to-be-crowned-king prince as a ship's deckhand and a cop as the prince to throw the prince's enemies off the trail. He doesn't tell Watson because he fears that Watson would give it away by treating the "deckhand" with the sort of respect he would normally show royalty.
  • Mind Your Step: In The Scarlet Claw, Dr. Watson's attempt to come to Holmes' aid comes unstuck when he puts his foot through a step on a rickety staircase; giving away his presence.
  • Mugged for Disguise: In The Scarlet Claw, the killer leaves Judge Brisson's housekeeper Bound and Gagged in her slip when he steals her clothes to disguises himself as her to get close enough to the judge to murder him.
  • Mysterious Note: In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes receives an envelope that is supposed to contain a coded message from Dr. Tobel, containing vital information regarding the bomb sight. However, when he opens the envelope, he finds the coded message has been replaced by a taunting note from Professor Moriarty.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Sir Evan's real identity in Sherlock Holmes and The Voice of Terror is Von Bock, incredibly similar to Von Bork of His Last Bow, the final Holmes story (chronologically speaking) and the one this film draws influence from. Due to the Setting Update, he is here a Nazi spy instead of a German agent on the eve of World War I.
    • Holmes' disguise as an eccentric bookseller in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon is lifted directly from The Empty House, although here there is the added layer of him playing a Nazi agent playing the bookseller.
    • His other disguise (that of a rough sailor) in the same film is drawn from The Adventure of Black Peter.
    • The Spider Woman combines elements of The Final Problem and The Empty House, such as Holmes faking his death near a waterfall and reappearing in disguise to Dr. Watson, as well as an attack on 221b by the villain with gas (fire in the original story). For bonus points, the gas is named as the Devil's Foot from the story of the same name, and the method of murder bears some resemblance to The Speckled Band, albeit with spiders instead of snakes. Additionally, the presence of a pygmy used to assist in the murders is reminiscent of The Sign of the Four, and Holmes asks Watson to whisper "pygmy" in his ear should he become too cocksure, much as Holmes did with the word "Norbury" in The Yellow Face.
    • Also in "The Spider Woman", Lestrade takes a pipe as Holmes-themed keepsake because he claims, "it's the one he remembers the best". It's a calabash pipe, the iconic one most often associated with Holmes.
    • La Mort Rouge in The Scarlet Claw is haunted by a glowing apparition that ultimately turns out to be a man in clothing coated with phosphorus, similar to the "glowing" hound from The Hound of the Baskervilles.
    • Holmes' affable clergyman disguise in The Pearl of Death is taken straight from A Scandal in Bohemia.
    • In a Gag that borders on blatant Trolling of Holmes fanatics, Pursuit To Algiers has Watson tell a long-winded anecdote about the Giant Rat of Sumatra note  but the only portions of his story that viewers actually hear are so ambiguous that they don't answer a single question about what, exactly, the Giant Rat was or why it was dangerous.
    • When Holmes and Watson arrive at the fortified house of Judge Brissom in The Scarlet Claw, they are met by a fierce dog. Trying to calm the wild animal, Watson rather lamely says "Nice Fido", then "Nice Monty" and "Nice Winnie". Monty and Winnie were the names of Watson's dogs in the radio series of Sherlock Holmes, which were being produced at the same time. Monty and Winnie were named after General Montgomery and Winston Churchill, considered appropriate during wartime.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Holmes is generally polite to lower class workers, such as when he generously tips a Pullman porter who gives him information on Sherlock Holmes Goes to Washington.
  • Noodle Incident: Moriarty supposedly got himself hanged in Montevideo. Holmes doesn't buy it for a second.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Holmes declares this to the killer in The Scarlet Claw, in an attempt to invoke Just Between You and Me.
  • Numbers Station: In The Voice of Terror, the titular German propaganda station broadcasts praise to attacks that are seemingly unstoppable. Holmes is able to deduce fairly quickly that there are details within the transmission that translate into a code for German sleepers to where to strike next, and that while the broadcasts come from Germany, the titular Voice records them in Britain — he's able to be so precise with his messages' predictions because he's one of the saboteurs that make sure they happen, and is The Mole within British Intelligence, to boot.
  • Obfuscating Disability:
    • In The Scarlet Claw, Judge Brisson pretends to be confined to a wheelchair following a stroke so as to have an excuse not to mingle with the local villagers. Holmes exposes him by dropping an envelope to tempt him into picking it up and then reentering the room before the judge has a chance to resume his wheelchair.
    • In The Woman in Green, Watson is tailed by a seemingly one-armed street hawker. With his concealed arm, he produces a flick knife and is about to stab Watson when Moriarty reappears and indicates for him not to.
  • Oddball in the Series: Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror is the only film in the series not to be directed by Roy William Neill. Instead it was directed by John Rawlins.
  • Orgy of Evidence: In The House of Fear, Watson asks Holmes if he has spotted any clues yet, and Holmes responds that there are almost too many clues. At the denouement, Holmes tells the conspirators that they might have got away with it if they hadn't insisted on embellishing the scheme with the business of the orange pips.
  • Papa Wolf: In The Scarlet Claw, Watson verbally defends Marie against her father Journet whom Watson witnessed slapping her. He even gently pays Marie’s back to comfort her. Later in the movie, Holmes reveals to Journet, who was hiding from the murderer, that his daughter was murdered. Journet vows to kill Alistair Ramson and immediately agrees to return to the inn with Holmes to help catch the murderer. In the end, Journet executes Marie’s killer.
  • Person with the Clothing: The Woman in Green.
  • Police Are Useless: Scotland Yard only exists in these films to make Watson look smart.
  • Pretty in Mink: Mrs. Courtney wears a gorgeous floor-length white fur stole when she arrives at Emery's apartment to seduce him and steal his music box in Dressed to Kill.
  • Quicksand Sucks: In The Scarlet Claw, Watson twice winds up to his neck in quicksand while searching the marshes.
  • Red Herring: In Terror by Night, Colonel Moran is mentioned as doing mathematics for relaxation, so naturally two people (a mathematics professor and a train guard) are seen doing mathematics. Neither of them turns out to be Colonel Moran.
  • Ransacked Room: In Dressed to Kill, Holmes and Watson return to their rooms in Baker Street only to discover they have been ransacked by the gang searching for the music box.
  • Right Under Their Noses: The culprit after the microfilm in Sherlock Holmes Goes to Washington is pretty sore when he realizes that he ended up with it late in the film but never realized it.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: Happens with a matchbook containing a secret message in Sherlock Holmes in Washington.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In The Scarlet Claw, the butler of the first victim believes supernatural forces are behind the murders and declares his intent to leave town as soon as the next bus passes through.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Sherlock Holmes in Washington has him and Watson going to the United States to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a British citizen. The Scarlet Claw takes place in Canada, and Pursuit to Algiers takes place partially in Algiers.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: A variant is done in The Pearl of Death: Bad guys are looking for a pearl which was hidden in one of six china busts of Napoleon. They track down the owners of the busts and hire the Creeper to kill them, and then break open the bust to see if it's the right one. To cover their tracks, the Creeper breaks all of the victim's china, to disguise the fact that they're only really interested in the Napoleon busts.
  • Setting Update: Holmes and Watson aren't in Victorian London anymore. In fact the first couple of films had a title card explaining that Holmes and Watson were "timeless characters" to justify them being in the modern day.
  • Signature Headgear: Ironically not the deerstalker. Holmes grabs for it in The Voice of Terror but Watson protests so he instead grabs a fedora which he wears for the rest of the series.
  • Smokescreen Crime: The villains in The Pearl of Death are after the titular pearl which is hidden in one of six china busts of Napoleon. The villains hire the Creeper to find the pearl, and his process involves killing the owners and then breaking open the busts to see which one contains it. The Creeper also makes it a point to destroy all china that the victims possess to disguise the fact that he is looking for a particular pearl.
  • Smug Snake: There is not a single villain in this series that doesn't delight in gloating when it looks like he'll win — the titular Voice of Terror goes all the way with him boasting that the Reich is invincible and, oh, why are the British so determined to force the Germans to demonstrate this with their resistance and get people killed unnecessarily?
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes is strapped to an operating table by Moriarty. Turns out to be Holmes's Batman Gambit.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • The villain of "The Pearl of Death", Giles Conover is basically Professor Moriarty in all but name. Heck, Holmes' description of him is taken out word for word from his description of Moriarty from "The Final Problem".
    • Ditto Colonel Moran in "Terror By Night", who basically exists to have Moriarty's role without being immediately identifiable by Holmes. Originally depicted as the Professor's top henchman and sniper, here he's instead his academic colleague and co-mastermind, making them very similar.
    • Hilda Courtney, the female mastermind of the final film, Dressed to Kill, is one for Irene Adler - and the first scene between Holmes and Watson alerts the audience to this by mentioning her inspiration. She even proves herself a skilled enough actor to trick Holmes, much like her Adler did in her story,
  • Sweeping the Table: In Dressed To Kill, when Holmes has his "Eureka!" Moment, he sweeps everything off his desk to clear space so he can decode the message hidden in the music box.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Holmes's enemy in the first handful of films.
  • Thriller on the Express: Terror By Night has Holmes solving a case of murder and theft of a priceless diamond in a train.
  • Tokyo Rose: "The Voice of Terror" is an incredibly haughty "Lord Haw-Haw"-type.
  • Torture Technician: Dr. Simnell, Moriarty's pet murderer in The Woman in Green. He insists that his implements are 'instruments' not 'tools', and takes a sadistic glee in murdering and dismembering young women.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The Scarlet Claw is set in the Canadian village of "La Mort Rouge" (French for The Red Death) and is haunted by a local monster.
  • Trail of Blood: The Woman in Green has a variation. Holmes and Watson walk into a police detective's office to discover the man has been shot dead. Instead of following the trail of blood to the body, Holmes analyzes the trail of blood the dying detective left to determine the probable sequence of events during the murder.
  • Unwilling Suspension: In Dressed to Kill, Holmes suspended by his wrists from a hook in the ceiling of a garage, and then left there to asphyxiate.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Sir George (and presumably the other blackmail victims) in The Woman in Green. He is hypnotized into forgetting the events of the night before, and then wakes up in a cheap flophouse with a dead woman's finger in his pocket, and is led to believe that he is the Jack the Ripoff murderer who is terrorizing London.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: In The Woman in Green, Lydia tells Moriarty he is taking too much time in drawing out Holmes' demise, but he dismisses her. It turns out she's right, as Holmes is playing for time 'til the police arrive.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In Terror by Night, Colonel Moran kills his henchman almost immediately after getting his hands on the Star of Rhodesia.

Alternative Title(s): Sherlock Holmes And The Voice Of Terror, Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon, Sherlock Holmes In Washington, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death, The Spider Woman, The Scarlet Claw, The Pearl Of Death, Sherlock Holmes And The House Of Fear, The Woman In Green, Pursuit To Algiers, Terror By Night, Dressed To Kill 1946