365 Film Challenge Part 26: 1940s Special

Back to the forties for this collection.

Film #50: The Spider Woman

Basil Rathbone returns as Sherlock Holmes for this mystery which sees him deal with a female crime mastermind. Holmes fakes his death to better investigate a spate of murders disguised as suicides. To do this he goes undercover as an Indian officer, complete with brownface. Yikes.

The film is dated and a little stilted, but there’s a certain charm in the dialogue and Rathbone’s performance. Gale Sondergaard is solid as the femme fatale, cool and scheming. The elaborate murder plot, involving a lethal spider, who’s excruciating venom causes the victim to run and dive from windows, is nonsense, but fun (a spin on the snake used in The Speckled Band story).

Very much of its time, but a charming and entertaining watch. 7/10.

Film #93: The Maltese Falcon

Humphrey Bogart is in full hard-boiled mode here as Sam Spade, a PI who gets caught up in the hunt for a priceless statue. There are various parties after it, and Spade has to navigate his way through and avoid getting whacked like his partner.

There are double crosses left and right as Spade tries to work out if there’s anybody involved in the whole thing he can trust. Bogart is effortlessly cool in the lead and the fast paced, witty and sarky dialogue is a treat. The plot is quite convoluted but it’s a good watch and an engaging thriller. 8/10.

Film #102: The Way to the Stars

A melodrama about the lives of the staff and families of an RAF base who have to adapt when brash American pilots are stationed there.

It’s horribly dated and the “stiff upper lip” cliche characters are hard to warm to. I found it all rather dull and painfully slow. 3/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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