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Sherlock Holmes in Washington
Director: Roy William Neill (Dir)
Release Date:   30 Apr 1943
Production Date:   8 Jul--late Jul 1942
Duration (in mins):   70-71
Duration (in feet):   6,427
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Cast:   Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes)  
    Nigel Bruce (Doctor [John] Watson)  
    Marjorie Lord (Nancy Pattridge [Partridge])  
    Henry Daniell (William Easter)  
    George Zucco ([Richard] Stanley [also known as Heinrich Hinkle])  
    John Archer (Lt. Peter Merriam)  
    Gavin Muir (Bart Lang)  
    Edmund MacDonald (Detective Lt. Grogan)  
    Don Terry (Howe)  
    Bradley Page (Cady)  
    Holmes Herbert (Mr. Ahrens)  
    Thurston Hall (Senator Henry Babcock)  
    Gilbert Emery (Sir Henry Marchmont)  
    Ian Wolfe (Clerk)  
    Mary Forbes (Beryl Pettibone)  
    Gerald Hamer (Alfred Pettibone, also known as John Grayson)  
    John Burton (Army inspector/Commentator "Voice of London")  
    Regina Wallace (Mrs. Bryce Partridge)  
    Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson)  
    Margaret Seddon (Miss Pringle)  
    Alice Fleming (Mrs. Jellison)  
    Clarence Muse (George)  
    Leyland Hodgson (Airport official)  
    Evelyn Cooke (Girl friend)  
    Charles Marsh (Reporter)  
    Gene O'Donnell (Reporter)  
    Alexander Lockwood (Reporter)  
    Eddie Coke (Steward)  
    Paul Scott (Army major)  
    Lee Shumway (Army major)  
    Irving Mitchell (Laboratory assistant)  
    Leslie Denison (Bomber pilot)  
    Jason Robards (Doorman)  
    Phil Warren (Young officer)  
    Tom Martin (Waiter)  
    Caroline Cooke (Mrs. Ruxton)  
    Kernan Cripps (Hotel porter)  

Summary: British diplomat Sir Henry Marchmont travels on a transatlantic flight from London to New York, on his way to Washington, D.C. He is followed by a group of German spies, led by William Easter, who suspect that Sir Henry is carrying secret government documents. The German agents later learn that Sir Henry is merely a decoy, and Easter recognizes that fellow passenger John Grayson is the actual courier. Realizing that he has been discovered, Grayson slips a matchbook into the purse of socialite Nancy Partridge just moments before he is abducted by Easter and his men. Back in London, famed detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion, Dr. John Watson, learn from Mr. Ahrens of the British Home Office that Grayson was actually secret service agent Alfred Pettibone, and Holmes is asked to recover the vital secret documents. The detective soon deduces that Grayson photographed the documents, then placed the microfilm in an American matchbook folder. Arriving in Washington, Holmes and Watson are met by Bart Lang of the British embassy and Detective Lt. Grogan of the Washington police department, the officer in charge of the Grayson case. Grayson's murdered body is later delivered to Holmes's hotel room, and the detective deduces from inspecting it that the spies have not found the secret documents. After interviewing George, a train porter, Holmes quickly surmises that Nancy has the matchbook. Easter comes to a similar conclusion, so he arranges for his men to attend Nancy's engagement party. The spies abduct both Nancy and her fiancĂ©, naval lieutenant Peter Merriam, then remove Nancy, hidden inside a rolled-up carpet, from her aunt's home. Without any other leads, Holmes examines the materials found with Grayson's body and deduces that Nancy's kidnappers work in an antique shop. He and Watson then probe Washington's antique shops, finally arriving at Stanley's Antiques, which Holmes correctly suspects is the spies's hideout. Inside, Richard Stanley, the owner, questions Nancy about the secret documents, of which she truthfully claims no knowledge. Pretending to be an eccentric collector, Holmes gains admittance into Stanley's office, whom he immediately recognizes as Heinrich Hinkle, an ex-secret agent for pre-war Germany, who now heads an international spy ring. Stanley recognizes Holmes as well, but is unaware that he is lighting Holmes's cigarette with the very matchbook that holds the microfilm. Stanley's men capture Holmes, but before the spy can have the detective and Nancy executed, Watson arrives with Peter and the police. Stanley manages to escape through a secret passageway, however, and heads straight for the office of Senator Henry Babcock, who he has learned from Holmes holds a stamped envelope given to him by Grayson during the train ride to Washington, which the detective has led the spy to believe contains the microfilm. Stanley walks straight into Holmes's trap, and the microfilm is safely recovered. Holmes then reminds Stanley that he had told him that the man who had the secret documents did not know he had it, as Stanley had been carrying the matchbook since his abduction of Nancy. 

Production Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures Company, Inc.  
Director: Roy William Neill (Dir)
  William Tummel (Asst dir)
  Gilbert Valle (Asst dir)
Producer: Howard Benedict (Assoc prod)
Writer: Bertram Millhauser (Scr)
  Lynn Riggs (Scr)
  Bertram Millhauser (Orig story)
Photography: Les White (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Jack Otterson (Art dir)
  Martin Obzina (Assoc)
Film Editor: Otto Ludwig (Film ed)
Set Decoration: R. A. Gausman (Set dec)
  E. R. Robinson (Assoc)
Costumes: Vera West (Gowns)
Music: Charles Previn (Mus dir)
  Frank Skinner (Mus)
Sound: Bernard B. Brown (Sd dir)
  James Masterson ([Sd] tech)
Production Misc: Tom McKnight (Tech adv)
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. 24/9/1942 dd/mm/yyyy LP11600

PCA NO: 8920
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: World War II
Subjects (Major): Detectives
  English in foreign countries
  Foreign agents
  Secret documents
  Secret Service
  Washington (D.C.)
Subjects (Minor): Abduction
  Antique dealers
  Attempted murder
  Great Britain. Diplomatic and consular service
  London (England)
  Mothers and sons
  Officers (Military)
  Secret passageways
  United States. Navy

Note: The film opens with the following written foreword: "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." Marjorie Lord's character is identified as "Nancy Pattridge" by the film's end credits; however, she is clearly called "Nancy Partridge" in the film and is listed that way in contemporary sources. This was the first Sherlock Holmes film in the Universal series that was not directly inspired by one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. According to HR news items, actress Evelyn Ankers was originally cast in the role of "Nancy Partridge." HR news items also state that, as late as 20 Jul 1942, Robert Paige was being considered as John Archer's replacement in the role of "Lt. Peter Merriam." (Lord and Archer later married; actress Anne Archer is their daughter.) Actor George Zucco, who played "Robert Stanley" in the film, had previously appeared with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the 1939 Twentieth-Century Fox Sherlock Holmes film The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 : F3.0022), playing Holmes's arch nemesis, "Professor Moriarty." Screenwriter Bertram Millhauser, who would go on to write a number of the Universal films in the series, had previously written the 1932 Fox release Sherlock Holmes (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 : F3.4020). According to modern sources, the working title of this film was Sherlock Holmes in U.S.A. For further information on the series and other films featuring the Arthur Conan Doyle characters, consult the Series Index and see the above entry for Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror , and the entries for Sherlock Holmes and The Hounds of the Baskervilles in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 (F3.4020 and F3.2009). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   3 Apr 1943.   
Daily Variety   26 Mar 43   p. 3.
Film Daily   31 Mar 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jun 42   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jun 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Jul 42   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jul 42   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Mar 43   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   31 Oct 42   p. 983.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   3 Apr 43   p. 1237.
Variety   31 Mar 43   p. 8.

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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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