Pearl of Death [1944]

Here is another strong entry (beautifully restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive) from the peak of Basil Rathbone's prolific, seven-year run as a definitive Sherlock Holmes for the big screen. In the gripping Pearl of Death (1944), a then-contemporary update (set in the World War II years, as with most of the Rathbone-Holmes features) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Six Napoleons," a reluctant Holmes agrees to help a London museum recover a stolen, rare pearl. But the investigation takes a strange turn when the great detective and his sidekick, Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce), find their mystery linked to a series of odd murders involving the destruction of porcelain china. Typically, "Pearl of Death" has its share of inside jokes for true Sherlockians, including Holmes's declaration, "If I'm wrong, I'll move to Sussex and raise bees." Of course, that's exactly what Doyle's most famous character did upon retirement. --Tom Keogh

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