The Woman in Green

Sherlock Holmes - The Woman in Green

Mystery, Drama | 68 mins | Released: 1945
Director: Roy William Neill
Starring: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Hillary Brooke, Henry Daniell, Paul Cavanagh, Matthew Boulton, Eve Amber
Our Rating: 7

In The Woman in Green, several women are murdered and their forefingers are severed, which calls Holmes and Watson into action, but Holmes is baffled by the crimes at the start. Widower Sir George Fenwick (Paul Cavanagh), after a romantic night alone with his girlfriend Lydia Marlowe (Hillary Brooke), is hypnotized into believing that he is responsible for the crimes. He is certain that he is guilty after he awakes from a stupor and finds a woman’s forefinger in his pocket. His daughter comes to Holmes and Watson without realizing that Moriarty’s henchman is following her. She tells Holmes and Watson that she found her father burying a forefinger under a pile of soil. She has dug up the forefinger and shows it to them.

Fenwick is then found dead, obviously murdered by someone to keep him from talking. Holmes theorizes that Moriarty, who was supposed to have been hanged in Montevideo, is alive and responsible for the crimes. Watson is then called to help a woman who fell over while feeding her pet bird. He leaves, and minutes later, Moriarty appears and explains that he faked the phone call so he could talk to Holmes. When Moriarty leaves, Watson arrives. Holmes explains what Moriarty did, notices that a window shade that was shut in the empty house across the street is now open, and tells Watson to investigate.

Inside the empty house, Watson now looking through the window, believes that he sees a sniper shoot Holmes in his apartment. Holmes then appears at the house and explains that he put a bust of Julius Caesar there because of his shared  resemblance to the bust, having realized  that as soon as he sat there, Moriarty would have him killed. Inspector Gregson takes the sniper, a hypnotized ex-soldier, away, but the sniper is later killed on Holmes’s doorstep.

Holmes now realizes that Moriarty’s plan involves:

1) Killing women and cutting off their forefingers,
2) making rich, single men believe they have committed the crime,
3) using this fake information to blackmail them, and
4) counting on the victims being too terrified to expose the scheme.

Holmes befriends Lydia, whom he had seen with Sir George at a restaurant, suspecting that she is in cahoots with Moriarty. She takes him to her house, where he is apparently hypnotized. Moriarty enters and has one of his men cut Holmes with a knife to verify that he is hypnotized. He then tells Holmes to write a suicide note, to walk out of Lydia’s apartment onto the ledge, and jump to his death.

Watson and the police then appear and grab the criminals. Holmes then reveals that he was never hypnotized, but secretly ingested a drug to make him appear as if he had been hypnotized and also insensitive to pain. Moriarty then escapes from the hold of a policeman and jumps from the top of Lydia’s house to another building. However, he hangs onto a pipe that loosens from the building, causing him to fall to his death.

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Movie Notes:

The Woman in Green is a 1945 American Sherlock Holmes film starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, with Hillary Brooke as the Woman in Green of the title and Henry Daniell as Professor Moriarty. The Woman in Green is not credited as an adaptation of any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes tales, but several of its scenes are taken from “The Final Problem” and “The Adventure of the Empty House.” The Woman in Green is the eleventh film of the Rathbone/Bruce series of fourteen.

The Woman in Green was the first film in Universal’s Sherlock Holmes series in which the main credit for Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce did not list the characters they played. All previous films contained “as Sherlock Holmes” and “as Doctor Watson” with their main credit.

The Breen Office ordered two cuts from the original script of The Woman in Green. First, the victims were supposed to be young girls. It was That was ordered to be changed to young women, although, Dr. Simnell’s bizarre doll fetish may be a leftover from the initial concept. In addition, during the scene in the Mesmer Club, Watson was supposed to take off his pants, not just roll up his pant leg.

Although “The Woman in Green” is credited as an original story, dialogue is lifted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem,” and the situation involving the sniper firing at Holmes’ silhouette is taken from the next story in the original canon, “The Empty House.”

Although he is not seen, the only reference to Mycroft Holmes in the Basil Rathbone / Nigel Bruce series is made in this film.

This was slipped past the censors: a very suggestive shadow on the wall behind the woman at about 9.5 minutes in. It reappears a minute or two later. It thematically relates to what the man and woman are thinking about.

Norman Ainsley is listed playing an electrician in studio records, but he was not seen in the movie.

Henry Daniell, who plays Professor Moriarty in The Woman in Green, had an earlier villainous role as William Easter in Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943): and, as an ally of Holmes, Anthony Lloyd, in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942).

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