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Dressed to Kill (1946 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dressed to Kill
Directed byRoy William Neill
Produced byRoy William Neill
Written byFrank Gruber
Leonard Lee
Based onThe Adventure of the Six Napoleons
1903 short stories (56)
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
StarringBasil Rathbone
Nigel Bruce
Patricia Morison
Music byMilton Rosen
CinematographyMaury Gertsman
Edited bySaul A. Goodkind
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 24, 1946 (1946-05-24) (New York City, New York)
  • June 7, 1946 (1946-06-07) (United States)
Running time
76 minutes
(copyright length)
72 minutes
(restored version)
CountryUnited States
Dressed to Kill

Dressed to Kill, released in 1946, also known as Prelude to Murder (working title) and Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Code in the United Kingdom, is the last of fourteen films starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson.


John Davidson, a convicted thief in Dartmoor prison (played by an uncredited Cyril Delevanti) hides the location of stolen Bank of England printing plates inside three music boxes (each of which plays a subtly different version of "The Swagman"). The boxes are sold at a local auction house.[1]

When Dr Watson's friend Julian 'Stinky' Emery, an avid collector, pays Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson a visit and tells them about a strange robbery in his house the previous night, in which someone stole a music box, similar to the one that he had bought at the auction house for two pounds. Later that night, Stinky is murdered and the other music box is stolen, and Holmes and Watson realize that someone is willing to kill to obtain the three music boxes. When Holmes and Watson go to the house of the people who bought the second music box, they find it has also been stolen.[2]

Sherlock Holmes is able to buy the third music box, and asks Scotland Yard to track down the suspects. Later it is discovered that the Inspector who had been tracking the suspects has been murdered. Holmes and Watson soon crack the code of the music box and discover the numbers on the keys correlate to letters of the alphabet. Unfortunately they are only partially able to decode the whole message, because the suspects have the other two music boxes.

When Holmes discovers his flat has been ransacked in an attempt to find the third music box, he notices a cigarette with a distinct type of tobacco. Holmes tracks down the lady (Hilda Courtney) who bought the tobacco and confronts her. While Holmes is confronting her he is ambushed, tied up and led to a warehouse and left with poison gas filling the room. Back at Holmes and Watson's flat, Hilda Courtney steals the music box from Dr. Watson. Holmes escapes from the warehouse, narrowly escaping death, and returns to the flat where Watson tells Holmes that the music box has been stolen. While talking to Holmes, Watson cracks the code for the location of the five pound engraving plate, when he tells Holmes about a quote from Dr. Samuel Johnson.

Hilda Courtney and her gang decipher the code, leading them to Dr. Samuel Johnson's house, now a museum. While Courtney is stealing the plates, hidden behind a book shelf Holmes ambushes them and Scotland Yard officers arrest Courtney and her accomplices before they can get away, and the plates are returned to the Bank of England.



  1. ^ "Dressed to Kill". AllMovie. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  2. ^ Dressed to Kill (1946) - IMDb, retrieved 2020-07-14

External links

This page was last edited on 16 January 2021, at 05:16
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