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The Spider Woman (1943)

Approved | | Mystery, Thriller | 21 January 1944 (USA)
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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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

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Taglines:

Mistress of Murder! See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point Holmes says to Watson, "If you ever see me getting too sure again, fancying myself more clever then Adrea Spedding, just whisper one word to me: pygmy." This line was inspired by the short story "The Adventure of the Yellow Face," in which Holmes tells Watson, "If it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you." See more »

Goofs

Adam Gilflower is summoned by Holmes to identify the dead spider because, says Holmes, "I believe you know more about spiders than any man in London." Gilflower identifies the spider, but incorrectly observes that it is "the deadliest insect known to science." 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.
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Connections

Follows Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) See more »

User Reviews

Many Imaginative Touches
8 January 2010 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

The "hopping boy" with cat-quick reflexes is one of the most unusual and unsettling figures of the decade. I don't think I've ever seen such an imaginative and offbeat use of a young person in any other movie. The film itself has many imaginative touches, but among them, it's that bizarre little "hop" (never explained, and neither is the boy) that's so memorable. He's a perfect adjunct to the leeringly evil Adrea (Sondergaard) who looks like she's having a delicious time playing cat-and-mouse with the tricky Sherlock (Rathbone). In fact, their devious encounters are models of beautifully "layered" acting as each has several things going on internally at the same time. She's a perfect foil for the master detective, with a flashy smile that says one thing while her eyes say another. Too bad the imperious Sondergaard was lost to the blacklist of the early 50's.

I never did figure out just how the pygmy (Angelo Rossito in blackface) fit into the suicide scheme, but that's okay because the movie has so many intriguing touches, including the highly contrived but suspenseful climax. Even Hoey's Inspector Lestrade is wisely restrained, and when he walks off proudly arm-in-arm with the eye-catching Adrea at the end, it's a rather charming little moment. I guess my only complaint is with the poorly done process shot of the raging river that contrasts starkly with the well-stocked foreground. Nonetheless, this is one of the most imaginative entries of any detective series of the period.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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