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.
Though not directly based on any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories, the film features several references to “A Scandal in Bohemia”, with Holmes and Watson discussing the recent publication of the story in The Strand Magazine, and the villain of the film using the same trick on Watson that Holmes uses on Irene Adler in the story. The plot also bears some resemblance to “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”.
Three cheap musical boxes (each one playing a subtly different version of “The Swagman”), manufactured in Dartmoor Prison, are sold at a local auction house. However, a criminal gang is determined to steal and recover all three, even if it means committing murder. Sherlock Holmes tries to recover the music boxes and crack the secret code contained in the tune before the gang can get what they want.
Dressed to Kill
Directed by Roy William Neill
Produced by Roy William Neill
Written by Frank Gruber, Leonard Lee
Based on The Adventure of the Dancing Men 1903 short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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
Running time 76 min
Country United States