The Spider Woman (1944)

62-63 mins | Drama | 21 January 1944

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Sherlock Holmes in Peril, and it was also reviewed under the title Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman. The Spider Woman was very loosely based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story, "The Adventures of the Dying Detective" in Strand (Dec 1913). For additional information on the series and other films featuring the Arthur Conan Doyle characters, consult the Series Index and see the entry below for Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror and the entries for Sherlock Holmes and The Hounds of the Baskervilles in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4020 and F3.2009. Gale Sondergaard also starred in the 1946 film The Spider Woman Strikes Back (see entry), but that picture had no connection to The Spider Woman other than Sondergaard's participation. ...

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The working title of this film was Sherlock Holmes in Peril, and it was also reviewed under the title Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman. The Spider Woman was very loosely based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story, "The Adventures of the Dying Detective" in Strand (Dec 1913). For additional information on the series and other films featuring the Arthur Conan Doyle characters, consult the Series Index and see the entry below for Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror and the entries for Sherlock Holmes and The Hounds of the Baskervilles in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4020 and F3.2009. Gale Sondergaard also starred in the 1946 film The Spider Woman Strikes Back (see entry), but that picture had no connection to The Spider Woman other than Sondergaard's participation.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Jan 1944
---
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1944
p. 3
Film Daily
13 Jan 1944
p. 13
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1943
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1943
p. 7
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jan 1944
p. 3
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Jan 1944
p. 1714
Variety
12 Jan 1944
p. 24
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
John B. Goodman
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
R. A. Gausman
Set dec
Edward Ray Robinson
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
[Sd] tech
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Adventures of the Dying Detective" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Strand (Dec 1913).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Titles:
Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman
Sherlock Holmes in Peril
Release Date:
21 January 1944
Production Date:
10 May--early Jun 1943
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
24 November 1943
LP12379
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
62-63
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9470
SYNOPSIS

With a rash of "pajama suicides" plaguing London, a cry goes out for noted private detective Sherlock Holmes, who is on a fishing vacation in Scotland, to investigate. Holmes quickly deduces that the deaths are actually murders, as no suicide notes have been left by any of the victims, but he tells his friend, Dr. John Watson, that he has decided to retire for heath reasons rather than take on the case. Soon thereafter, Holmes collapses and disappears, and the newspapers are filled with stories of the detective's death by drowning. In actuality, Holmes has faked his own death in order to go undercover to expose the murderous gang, which he suspects is led by a "female Moriarty." Holmes pretends to be an Indian officer named Raghni Singh who, like the previous victims, is a compulsive gambler. Adrea Spedding, the leader of the gang, falls for Holmes's bait and invites him to the Urban Casino, where, after losing all his money and contemplating suicide, he is told by Adrea that he can borrow money on his life insurance policy by making one of her friends his new beneficiary. The next day, however, Adrea discovers Holmes's disguise, and she orders her goons to place a poisonous spider in the air shaft of his apartment. Holmes foils her plot, however, and after killing one of Adrea's accomplices, the detective and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard discover a wooden case and small footprints on the apartment's roof. Later, Holmes and Watson are visited at their Baker Street residency by Adrea and her mute "nephew," Larry. She pretends to be interested in hiring the detective ...

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With a rash of "pajama suicides" plaguing London, a cry goes out for noted private detective Sherlock Holmes, who is on a fishing vacation in Scotland, to investigate. Holmes quickly deduces that the deaths are actually murders, as no suicide notes have been left by any of the victims, but he tells his friend, Dr. John Watson, that he has decided to retire for heath reasons rather than take on the case. Soon thereafter, Holmes collapses and disappears, and the newspapers are filled with stories of the detective's death by drowning. In actuality, Holmes has faked his own death in order to go undercover to expose the murderous gang, which he suspects is led by a "female Moriarty." Holmes pretends to be an Indian officer named Raghni Singh who, like the previous victims, is a compulsive gambler. Adrea Spedding, the leader of the gang, falls for Holmes's bait and invites him to the Urban Casino, where, after losing all his money and contemplating suicide, he is told by Adrea that he can borrow money on his life insurance policy by making one of her friends his new beneficiary. The next day, however, Adrea discovers Holmes's disguise, and she orders her goons to place a poisonous spider in the air shaft of his apartment. Holmes foils her plot, however, and after killing one of Adrea's accomplices, the detective and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard discover a wooden case and small footprints on the apartment's roof. Later, Holmes and Watson are visited at their Baker Street residency by Adrea and her mute "nephew," Larry. She pretends to be interested in hiring the detective to find her missing friend "Raghni," but as she leaves, Larry throws some candy wrappers into the fireplace, filling the flat with poisonous smoke. Holmes and Watson escape the fumes, however, then go to the home of Matthew Ordway, an eccentric specialist in insects. Holmes soon deduces that the man they meet there is an impostor named Radlik, but he makes his escape by releasing some of Ordway's deadly insects. Holmes and Watson later find the murdered Ordway, as well as the skeleton of a small individual. Holmes quickly realizes that Adrea has been using a pygmy to plant the poisonous spiders in the homes of her victims. Holmes and Watson then go to search for the pygmy at a local carnival, where the detective is soon captured by Adrea and her gang. Holmes is strapped behind a cutout of Adolf Hitler in a shooting gallery, but he escapes his binds just in time to avoid being shot to death by Watson and Norman Locke, Adrea's half-brother. Adrea and her gang are then arrested, and Holmes expresses his respect for the female's evil cunning.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.