Dressed to Kill (1946 film)

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Dressed to Kill
Directed by Roy William Neill
Produced by Roy William Neill
Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (story)
Frank Gruber
Leonard Lee
Starring Basil Rathbone
Nigel Bruce
Patricia Morison
Music by Jack Brooks
Cinematography Maury Gertsman
Edited by Saul A. Goodkind
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • June 7, 1946 (1946-06-07)
Running time 76 min (copyright length)/72 min (restored version)
Country United States
Language English

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


A convicted thief in Dartmoor prison (played by an uncredited Cyril Delevanti) hides the location of the stolen Bank of England printing plates inside three music boxes (each one plays a subtly different version of "The Swagman"). The boxes are sold at a local auction house. However, a criminal gang, the brains behind which belong to a darkly beautiful, ruthless woman, who is also a "consummate actress" as Holmes learns,and constantly wearing fur, when she, disguised as a charwoman and speaking Cockney, talks down to both Holmes and Watson, whom she pretends not to recognize, and leaves with a music box right under their noses. She has some muscle behind her but prefers to use her brains. Holmes tries to recover the last music box to crack the secret code contained in the tune before it is too late.


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