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The Spider Woman (1943)

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.

Director:

Roy William Neill

Writers:

Bertram Millhauser (screenplay), Arthur Conan Doyle (story) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
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Stars: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Basil Rathbone ... Sherlock Holmes
Nigel Bruce ... Doctor Watson
Gale Sondergaard ... Adrea Spedding
Dennis Hoey ... Lestrade
Vernon Downing Vernon Downing ... Norman Locke
Alec Craig ... Radlik
Arthur Hohl ... Gilflower
Mary Gordon ... Mrs. Hudson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sylvia Andrew Sylvia Andrew ... Charwoman (scenes deleted)
Marie De Becker Marie De Becker ... Charwoman (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Sherlock Holmes takes on a case that the press has dubbed the pajama suicides. Eminent men are going to bed in the safety of their own homes, with everything seemingly being normal, only to commit suicide in the night. Holmes fakes his own death in the hopes of giving him a freer hand in the investigation and is convinced that a woman, a female Moriarty as he describes her, is behind the deaths. The dead men were all eminent and very wealthy. He impersonates a wealthy retired Indian military officer in the hope of drawing out the woman and he soon meets Adrea Spedding but she quickly sees through his disguise and proves herself to be the challenge Holmes predicted she would be. She is a worthy adversary and soon traps him setting him up in a carnival shooting gallery that seems to assure his death. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Here is crawling death sent to Sherlock Holmes by the most fiendish killer of all... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 January 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes in the Spider Woman See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The seventh of fourteen films based on Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. See more »

Goofs

When the impostor posing as Matthew Ordway knocks a terrarium of black widow spiders onto the floor and Watson reaches for the gun among them, Holmes shouts "Stop it, Watson! Those insects are deadly!" Spiders are not insects, and Holmes, having just revealed Ordway to be an impostor on the basis of the man's lack of knowledge about spiders, should know this. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
News Vendor: Read all about the pyjama suicide. Here you are, governor. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Read all about it, another pyjama suicide.
See more »

Connections

Follows Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

All a bit too supernatural for me
28 December 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In wartime Britain, a series of well-known men commit suicide - their only connection being the fact that they are all gamblers. This happens while Holmes and Watson are holidaying in Scotland when this is happening and Holmes fakes his own death to be able to go back to London in disguise and work on the case. He finds the killer with ease but not the method or motive for the murders.

The interesting set up of graphic suicides (or at least graphic for the time) had me from the start but the film didn't manage to hold me throughout the running time although it got better towards the end. The usual `he's dead - oh, he's not' thing didn't really work for me but happily the film didn't labour this ruse too long. The plot does have certainly `different' aspects to it, they may not be supernatural as such but they are certainly different from the usual fare. There isn't anything too wrong about this but I didn't totally get won over by it.

The film does have some fine moments to it - the scene where Watson unwittingly is made to try and kill Holmes, very tense and enjoyable and ends with a Holmes line that Bond himself would have been proud of: `I was just going round and round but my heart wasn't really in it'! The confrontations between Holmes and Spedding are enjoyable - she is an extraordinary villain and she matches Holmes well.

Rathbone does good work and he does bring out a reasonable chemistry with Sondergaard that helps the fact that they are meant to be against each other. Bruce is good and seems to be growing in confidence (or at least what the film allows him to do) with some good quips of his own. Hoey is always a welcome addition to the cast and he is a good comic relief that takes the pressure off Bruce somewhat.

Overall, the plot didn't totally hang together for me and it lacked a little bit of logic as a result of the slightly unusal nature of the murders and the criminals involved but it is still very enjoyable and the conclusion in the fairground is a lot tenser than a B-movie deserves to be!


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