Fingers at the Window - 1942

That's not Bakers Street

Confusion! This film was listed as a Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes mystery on one of the preeminent online streaming services. Early scenes show us a mysterious fellow in shadow with Basil's profile sending axe murderers out into the city streets from the basement doorway of a prestigious looking inner city mansion. One of the intended victims is Laraine Day ("Edwina Brown") whose attempted murder is interrupted by Lew Ayres, and the two begin an irritated dog-and-cat-fight sort of romance that shows up in a number of 40's movies (Day and Ayres are quite good at it, actually) as the pair try to figure out why someone is trying to assassinate her.

Obviously, this is not a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but imagine my consternation during the early part of the film wondering why Sherlock is masterminding axe-murderers on a rampage. Fingers at the Window is a reasonably well made high-end B-mystery film and has a bit of a subversive tilt to it by portraying a (seemingly) highly respected medical professional (Rathbone) as a complete, though mostly secret, maniac (which made me puzzle if Sherlock was conducting some sort of bizarre counter-operation against an actual madman with an army of axe murderers, though I began to wonder "this place sure doesn't look like Baker Street...") Ayres' role is "Oliver Duffy," an unemployed actor who gets caught up in this mysterious series of murders which allows for a lot of sardonic remarks. In general this film has a comedy beating down inside its otherwise sordid axe-murdering heart.

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Original Page December 27, 2023