Dressed to Kill (1946), MOVIES, SHERLOCK HOLMES
Comments 22

Sherlock Holmes Week Day VII: His Last Bow (Dressed to Kill)

Well, here it is – The Baz’s Last Bow as Holmes. Filmed in early 1946. After completing it he would refuse to renew both his radio and his Universal contracts, tarnish his long friendship with Nigel Bruce (who, according to his daughter didn’t like “the way it was done” and blamed Basil’s wife). He’d up sticks and flee Hollywood for New York. The following year he’d star in THE HEIRESS on Broadway and win the Tony for Best Actor.

He wouldn’t make another movie for eight years. And that would be CASANOVA’S BIG NIGHT a venture I suspect this patrician gent undertook for the money alone.

Why, exactly, did he take such a massively extreme step? Did he really feel the need to pull the plug on his entire movie career just to rid himself of Sherlock Holmes? Or did he feel as if Holmes had already wrecked him for other movie parts anyway? If he’d stayed in Hollywood would he have been offered work, or would he have languished? Was the ‘curse’ of Holmes a real thing, or mostly his imagination?

I think I might be looking at these and other questions in later posts. This wasn’t supposed to be a serious or biographical blog, but TBH Rathbone’s biography – or lack of one – is starting to bug me and I want to find some answers that seem kind of elusive at this point.

But for now – here’s DRESSED TO KILL….

Enjoy, or wail and gnash teeth, as you see fit.



  1. Mikufan says

    Oh, but it wasn’t his last bow. xD
    The bits with the Jaguar made me laugh so bad >///<


  2. I always think the Universal Sherlocks are underrated. This is a good film. Well-written. Creatively photographed. Brilliantly acted by Rathbone.


  3. Kendrick says

    I think the tone if this site is not very respectful of Mr Rathbone. I advize anyone to go to Basil Rathbone Master of Screen and Stage if they really want to know about him. There is a biography page that just has the facts and not a lot of sensational rubbish like this has and not a lot of silly sexual innunedo either. Mr Rathbone that refined and genteel man must be turning in his grave!


    • Baz Babe says

      Wow, if you have a problem then why not just not read anything? And who are you to say Basil would turn in his grave? Maybe he’d be flattered at all the love he still can command.


  4. Barb Edwards says

    What a talented family the Rathbones were or are. Were they originally from Ireland? The name has an Irish sound to it, and I always thought Basil’s colouring and bone structure to be quite Celtic.


      • Greg Rathbone says

        The family were from Liverpool, the same city the Beatles came from, does that mean Basil’s father sounded like John Lennon? There is a lot of Irish blood in Liverpudlian people too. No I am not a relative, but I have researched the family name.


  5. AnnaPindurka says

    Actually, Niven says that it was just slander in Hearst’s (who had “chronic anti-British feelings”) Los Angeles Examiner and puts ‘Communists’ in inverted commas.
    “…along with such well-known ‘Communists’ as C. Aubrey Smith, Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone, and Cedric Hardwicke, I was pilloried in its columns for days.
    ‘Who needs the British bums?’ was the theme, if not the actual wording, of the attacks and we were publicly hauled over the coals for taking jobs from clean-cut American actors and undermining the fabric of the country that had befriended us.”


    • WinniethePooh says

      I thought I read somewhere that Basil was quite left wing and came from radical Quaker family in England, how true would that be then?


  6. i had read in david nivens book{ i think bring on the empty horses} that basil was a communist.say,if this were true,that would explain him leaving hollywood so suddenly.he lists his name along with just about all the other english colonys names.but,david nivens stories were really have to been largely made up.i found it hard to believe that c aubrey smith or basil was a communist.


  7. Corin Jackson says

    Basil Rathbone deserves ti accolade of the greatest ever Sherlock Holmes. Thank you for this site


  8. Barb Edwards says

    Lovely lovely captures. I am stunned the reviewer the other commenter links to has the stupidity to suggest he wasn’t a handsome Holmes. He was incredibly attractive and very feline and graceful.


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