AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Woman in Green
Alternate Title: Invitation to Death
Director: Roy William Neill (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1945
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 15 Jun 1945
Production Date:   mid-Jan--late Jan 1945
Duration (in mins):   63 or 68
Duration (in feet):   6,089
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Cast:   Basil Rathbone ([Sherlock] Holmes)  
    Nigel Bruce ([Doctor John] Watson)  
    Hillary Brooke (Lydia [Marlowe])  
    Henry Daniell ([Professor] Moriarity [sic])  
    Paul Cavanagh ([Sir George] Fenwick)  
    Matthew Boulton (Inspector Gregson)  
    Eve Amber (Maude [Fenwick])  
    Frederic Worlock (Onslow)  
    Tom Bryson (Williams)  
    Sally Shepherd (Crandon)  
    Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson)  
    Percival Vivian (Dr. Simnell)  
    Olaf Hytten (Norris)  
    Leslie Dennison (Barman)  
    John Burton (Waring)  
    Violet Seaton (Mowbray)  
    Arthur Stenning (Porter)  
    Norman Ainsley (Electrician)  
    Tony Ellis (Carter)  
    Ivo Henderson (Constable)  
    Colin Hunter (Constable)  
    Harold DeBecker (Shabby man)  
    Alec Harford (Commissioner)  
    Boyd Irwin (Short-tempered officer)  
    Tommy Hughes (Newsman)  

Summary: In turn-of-the-century London, a group of Scotland Yard's best investigators meet to discuss the fourth in a series of murders of young women, which have become known as the "finger murders" as each victim is found with one finger severed. Inspector Gregson, in charge of the investigation, informs his men that due to rising public concern about the murders, he intends to bring famed private detective Sherlock Holmes in on the case. Holmes and his partner, Dr. John Watson, meet Gregson at the morgue to examine the latest victim and then go to the Pembroke House club to discuss the case. While there, Holmes notices Sir George Fenwick in the company of an attractive woman, Lydia Marlowe. Shortly afterward, Fenwick and Lydia depart for her apartment, where Fenwick is unknowingly drugged and hypnotized by Lydia with the help of her maid. The next day Fenwick awakens in a strange boardinghouse, groggy and confused, and hears from news vendors on the street that another "finger murder" has been committed. To his horror, Fenwick finds a severed finger in his pocket. When he returns to Lydia's to inquire about the previous night, he is met by a stranger, who unknown to him is the notorious Professor Moriarty. Moriarty informs Fenwick that he has recovered incriminating letters suggesting Fenwick is involved in the latest "finger murder." The following day Holmes and Watson receive a visit from Maude Fenwick, who confesses that her father has been behaving strangely and that she discovered he had buried a human finger in their garden. When Holmes and Watson accompany Maude back to her home to question her father, they find Fenwick dead, clutching a matchbook from the Pembroke House. Later, Holmes concludes Fenwick was being blackmailed, as the day before he had removed a large sum from his bank. Back at his flat, Holmes speculates that while all the murders appear to have been committed by different killers, they all bear the mark of Professor Moriarty, despite the report of his death in Montevideo. Watson remains skeptical and shortly afterward is called away by a request for his medical services. A few moments later, Moriarty slips into the flat and warns Holmes not to pursue his investigation of the murders. After Moriarty departs and Watson returns, Holmes notes the apartment across the way has gone dark and sends Watson to investigate. The doctor arrives at the opposite flat just in time to see a sniper shoot Holmes through the window. Holmes, however, has followed Watson after setting up a bust as his double. Upon questioning the sniper, Corporal Williams of the British Army, Holmes and Watson note that he appears hypnotized and take him to Scotland Yard. There Holmes informs Gregson that all the murders are accomplished by hypnosis and that Williams is the key to identifying the mystery woman involved. After Williams is mysteriously murdered just outside the police station, Holmes and Watson attend a meeting of the Mesmer Club, which is run by the country's top hypnosis expert, who then proceeds to hypnotize the doubting Watson. Lydia, under instruction from Moriarty to lure Holmes to her apartment, shows up at the club and Holmes invites her to the Pembroke House, where Lydia claims not to recall her evening with Fenwick. Later at her apartment, Lydia drugs and hypnotizes Holmes, and Moriarty appears and tests the effectiveness of the hypnosis by having an assistant run a knife blade along Holmes's neck. Confident the detective is completely hypnotized, Morarity orders him to write a suicide note, then go onto the terrace ledge to throw himself off. Watson and Gregson burst in and Holmes reveals that he was only pretending to be hypnotized, having substituted Lydia's drug with a painkiller. As Lydia and Moriarty are handcuffed and about to be led away, Moriarty breaks away and attempts to jump across to the neighboring terrace, but instead falls to his death. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Director: Roy William Neill (Dir)
  Melville Shyer (Asst dir)
  Raymond Kessler (Dial dir)
Producer: Roy William Neill (Prod)
  Howard Benedict (Exec prod)
Writer: Bertram Millhauser (Orig scr)
Photography: Virgil Miller (Dir of photog)
  John P. Fulton (Spec photog)
  Wallace Chewning (2d cam)
Art Direction: John B. Goodman (Art dir)
  Martin Obzina (Art dir)
Film Editor: Edward Curtiss (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Russell A. Gausman (Set dec)
  Ted von Hemert (Set dec)
Costumes: Vera West (Gowns)
Music: Mark Levant (Mus dir)
Sound: Bernard B. Brown (Dir of sd)
  Glenn E. Anderson (Tech)
  Ronald K. Pierce (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Paul Neal (Mus mixer)
Country: United States
Series: Sherlock Holmes

Source Text: Based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Authors: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., Inc. 27/7/1945 dd/mm/yyyy LP13455

PCA NO: 18779
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Detective
 
Subjects (Major): Blackmail
  England
  Private detectives
  Hypnotism
  Murder
 
Subjects (Minor): Assassins
  Drugging
  Fathers and daughters
  Femmes fatales
  Frame-ups
  Investigations
  Maids
  Morgues
  Mutilation of corpses
  Nightclubs
  Nobility
  Physicians
  Police inspectors
  Scotland Yard (London, England)
  Snipers

Note: The working title of this film was Invitation to Death . According to modern sources, the screenplay was loosely based on two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, "The Adventures of the Empty House," ( Strand Oct, 1903) and "The Adventures of the Dying Detective," ( Strand , Dec 1913), but onscreen credits indicate that the story was based only Conan Doyle's characters, and the film bears little resemblance to either of those stories. The onscreen credits incorrectly spell Henry Daniell's character as "Moriarity."
       Modern sources add the following names to the crew credits: Prod mgr Charles Stallings; Cam op Ross Hoffman; Spec eff Chris Guthrie; and Prop master William Nunley. Modern sources add to the cast: Kay Harding ( Victim ), Maurice Marks ( Basil Rathbone's stand-in ) and Capt. George Hill ( Nigel Bruce's stand-in ). For information on other films featuring the Arthur Conan Doyle characters, please consult the Series Index and see the entry above for Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror , and the entries for Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles in AFI Catalog of Feature Films , 1931-40; F3. 4020 and F3.2009. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   23 Jun 1945.   
Daily Variety   15 Jun 45   p. 3.
Film Daily   19 Jun 45   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jan 45   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jan 45   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jun 45   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   14 Apr 45   p. 2403.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Jun 45   p. 2510.
New York Times   16 Jun 45   p. 10.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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