The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (1937)    0 Stars


The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (1937)
The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (1937)

Director: Karl Hartl

Cast: Hans Albers, Heinz Rühmann, Marieluise Claudius

Synopsis: Two confidence tricksters pose as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to get a room at an exclusive hotel.






Not many German movies made during Hitler’s reign presently see the light of day, but there’s something fascinating about movies made under totalitarian regimes, particularly one as short-lived and influential as the Third Reich. You could be forgiven for expecting German movies made during this period to be filled with propaganda, but in fact the opposite is due. There isn’t a swastika in sight, no reference to German superiority, and the quintessentially British Sherlock Holmes is shown a certain degree of affection in Karl Hartl’s The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes (Der Mann, der Sherlock Holmes war).

The title character is Morris Flint, played with a vital exuberance by the imposing German actor Hans Albers, a largely forgotten actor who was one of Germany’s biggest screen stars of the 1930s and ‘40s. Flint and his sidekick, Macky McPherson (Heinz Ruhmann), pass themselves off as Holmes and Watson in order to hitch a lift on a train and bag a room at a top hotel. By cleverly refraining from referring to themselves as the famous detective and his companion, and beseeching others to do the same, they succeed in fooling everyone into believing they really are the clebrated duo, and find themselves called upon by the local police to investigate a counterfeiting ring.

It’s a deliberately light-hearted film with a hugely catchy theme tune – which, on one occasion, Albers and Ruhmann sing together in separate baths – and an infectious liveliness that compensates for a somewhat routine and over-complicated plot. With his solid figure and piercing gaze, it’s not difficult to see why Albers was a favourite of the Reich – IMDb even claims that The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes was one of two movies found by allies in Hitler’s Berlin bunker – and he and Ruhmann make a likeable team. Marieluise Claudius (who would die of a heart attack four years after the making of this film at the age of 29) and Hansi Knoteck provide decorative support as a pair of cute sisters caught up in the counterfeiting plot who catch the eye of Flint and McPherson, while Hilde Weissner makes an alluring femme fatale. As fascinating as it is as an improbable relic from a monstrous regime, The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes ultimately falls short of being a good movie.

(Reviewed 25th March 2015)

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