Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in “Pursuit to Algiers” (1945) – reviewed by George

Out on an evening stroll Holmes (Rathbone) and Watson (Nigel Bruce) see a newspaper. The emeralds of the Duchess of Brookdale have been stolen, and Holmes assures Watson that their fishing trip will not be affected – he will definitely not take the case. As they continue their walk, Holmes is given strange hints – pieces of a message by just about everyone they pass. None of it makes sense, but Holmes is intrigued and begins to piece things together, arriving at the notion that they should stop at a particular place for fish and chips (which Watson abhors – “Wouldn’t feed chips to my dog!”). In another few exchanges at the restaurant Holmes puts together a place and time.
They go, and find themselves meeting with the Prime Minister of Rovenia (Frederic Warlock), who says that the recent death of His Majesty King Stefan was not an accident, but assassination. And the P.M. needs Holmes to be sure that Stefan’s son Nikolas (Leslie Vincent) gets back to Rovenia safely. Holmes is surprised by the obvious conclusion: that Nikolas in in England, but the P.M. says, “His Majesty has been educated at one of your public schools.”
Before Watson can blow a gasket over the loss of the fishing trip, Holmes says that he and Nikolas will fly in the secret plane provided, with guards Anton Petzval (James Craven) snd Matthias Cherney (Tom Dillon), and Watson will rush back to 221B and gather all the fishing gear and catch a small ship to Algiers, and then on to Rovenia from there.. After all Rovenis has excellent fishing.
And now we go with Watson and meet a lot of suspicious people on board. First encounter is with the Purser Johansson (Sven Hugo Borg) and the steward for Watson’s part of the ship Sanford (Morton Lowry). The other steward is played by Ashley Cowan.
Among the other passengers are the beautiful singer Miss Sheila Woodbury (Marjorie Riordan), who looks innocent but acts guilty; Miss Agatha Dunham (Rosalind Ivan), who carries a gun; the almost invisible clergyman Mr. Arnold (Wilson Benge), and two strange men who claim to be archeologists: Jodri (John Abbott) and Kingston (Gerald Hamer). They are supposedly on their way to a dig in Egypt, but Kingston says they got permission for the dig from Britain, and Jodri quickly corrects him. No, from Egypt.
Then off the coast near Lisbon the ship slows down to take on three more passengers: Mr. Mirko (Martin Kosleck), Mr. Gregor (Rex Evans), and Mr. Gubec (Wee Willie Davis). Mirko is sinister and twitchy, Gregor is overweight and wears glasses and a beret, and Gubec looks like an angry wrestler and uses sign language to communicate with the other two.
Olaf Hytten is listed as playing Stinson, but I didn’t spot him.
So who is real, and who is false? And who seems to think that Nikolas is on the ship?
A really good mystery with several twists, and a musical Holmes to boot! Marjorie Riordan  sings two songs written for the film by lyricist Everett Carter and composer Milton Rosen. The good one is “There Isn’t Any Harm In That” and the okay one is “Cross My Heart”. She also sings “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton”, specifically at Watson’s request, and then she prevails on him to sing “Loch Lomond”, which Nigel Bruce sings very well!
In the Rathbone canon this is one of the best. Original Screenplay by Leonard Lee, directed by Roy William Neill.

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