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Double Crossed: 10 Classic Spy Thrillers [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
The second of Universal's "modernized" Sherlock Holmes films pits the Great Detective (Basil Rathbone, of course) against that "Napoleon of Crime," Professor Moriarty (Lionel Atwill). Surpassing his previous skullduggery, Moriarty has now aligned himself with the Nazis and has dedicated himself to stealing a top-secret bomb sight developed by expatriate European scientist Dr. Franz Tobel (William Post Jr.). Before being kidnapped by Moriarty's minions, Tobel was enterprising enough to disassemble his invention and distribute its components among several other patriotic scientists. Racing against the clock, Holmes and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) try to stem the murders of Tobel's colleagues and prevent Moriarty from getting his mitts on the precious secret weapon. The now-famous climax finds Holmes playing for time by allowing Moriarty to drain all the blood from his body, drop by drop ("The needle to the last, eh Holmes?" gloats the villain). Dennis Hoey makes his first appearance as the dull-witted, conclusion-jumping Inspector Lestrade. Constructed more like a serial than a feature film, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (based loosely on Conan Doyle's The Dancing Men) is one of the fastest-moving entries in the series; it is also one of the most readily accessible, having lapsed into public domain in 1969. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Black Dragons
After an opening scene at a Washington DC cocktail party where it is demonstrated that "loose lips sink ships", the plot proper gets under way, wherein a group of six men conspire to undermine America's war effort. What is the connection between these six men, all of them outwardly respectable members of Washingtonian society? Hero Don (Clayton Moore) and heroine Alice (Joan Barclay) suspect that the answer lies with the mysterious, wryly philosophical Dr. Melcher (Bela Lugosi), a world-famous plastic surgeon. It turns out that Melcher is part of an elaborate espionage scheme hatched by the dreaded Black Dragon Society of Japan. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Limping Man
His Hollywood career temporarily in the doldrums in 1953, Lloyd Bridges headed to Britain to star in The Limping Man. Bridges plays an ex-GI who arrives in London to visit his wartime amour (Moira Lister). Before anyone knows what's happened, our hero is mixed up in a murder case. The victim was killed by a mysterious "limping man," who is also an expert sharpshooter. Just when it seems that events have overwhelmed the GI and his lady love, the story suddenly. . .well, that would be tattling, wouldn't it? The Limping Man was released Stateside by Lippert Productions. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Blood on the Sun
In his first film in two years, James Cagney stars as Nick Condon, the American editor of a pre-WW2 Tokyo newspaper. When two of his best friends are horribly murdered, Condon suspects that the "peaceful" Japanese military government is up to no good. He dedicates himself to getting his hands on the "Tanka Plan," a Japanese blueprint for conquering the world, and bringing this document to the attention of the Free World. As a result, he is targeted for persecution by the corrupt Tokyo police and betrayed by a traitorous fellow journalist. On a pleasanter note, Condon makes the acquaintance of half-Chinese Iris Hilliard (Sylvia Sidney), who agrees to help him foil the Japanese High Command. As was customary in wartime films, virtually all the Japanese characters in Blood on the Sun are played by Chinese, Korean, and Caucasian actors; for example, Robert Armstrong is cast as Colonel Tojo, while Premiere Tenaka is enacted by John Emery. Having lapsed into the public domain, Blood on the Sun is available from several distributors and also exists in a computer-colorized version. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rogue Male
Based on the film Man Hunt, the BBC-produced Rogue Male stars Peter O'Toole as a British aristocrat who attempts to assassinate Hitler. After he fails, he is hunted down by the German Gestapo. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

The Adventures of Tartu
Tartu--or more formally, The Adventures of Tartu--stars Robert Donat as a Rumanian-born British spy, dispatched to Czechoslovakia during World War II. Posing as an ineffectual milquetoast, Donat is hired as a chemist in a Nazi-controlled poison gas factory. Working in concert with the Underground, our hero spends his off-hours dismantling the Nazi operation. Then he has to figure a way to get out of Czechoslovakia as adroitly as he got in. Adventures of Tartu was filmed at MGM's British studios (it was Metro's first British production in two years), with an American director but with a full cadre of English acting talent: Donat, Valerie Hobson, Glynis Johns, etc. The Teutonic villain is played by Walter Rilla, whose son Wolf Rilla later became a prominent British director. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Green Glove
When German sympathizer Count Paul Rona (George MacReady) pilfers a valuable jeweled glove from a French church during World War II, it is up to American Michael Blake (Glenn Ford) to outwit his enemies and recover the artifact. ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Japanese detective Mr. Moto finds himself hip-deep in international espionage in this adventure tale. In Port Said, a pair of rogues -- French-born Fabian (Ricardo Cortez) and Englishman Norvel (George Sanders) -- are working for a nameless foreign government and devise a scheme to sabotage French ships passing through the Suez Canal. The criminals plan to leave false clues implicating British agents in hopes of sparking a war between the two nations. Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre), posing as a local shopkeeper after faking his own death to avoid suspicion, is assigned to stop them before any lives (or vessels) can be lost. John Carradine and Virginia Field also appear in this, the sixth of eight films that would feature Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

British Intelligence
Though set during WW1, British Intelligence was obviously thrown together to capitalize on the outbreak of WW2. A remake of the 1930 espionager Three Faces East, the film stars Boris Karloff as Valder, the sinister butler of a British cabinet minister. It is quite possible that Valder is a German spy, and equally likely that the mysterious Helene von Lorbeer (Margaret Lindsay) is likewise working for the enemy. In fact, the audience is never quite certain who the good guys and bad guys really are until the climax, which takes place during a German zeppelin raid of London. As a balm to 1940 audiences, the film includes an early comedy scene in which German military protocol is upset by a clumsy corporal (Willy Kaufman) who bears a startling resemblance to a certain Nazi dictator. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Submarine Alert
The plot of the Pine-Thomas adventure quickie Submarine Alert is more than a little beholden to Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. Richard Arlen plays FBI radio engineer Lee Deerhold, who turns bitter and vindictive when he is abruptly fired. Actually, his termination was engineered by his FBI superiors, so that Deerhold will be susceptible to a job offer from a gang of Nazi saboteurs. When Deerhold finally gets wise to what's going on, he finds himself being hotly pursued by practically everyone else in the picture. The better-than-average cast includes Wendy Barrie as undercover agent Ann Patterson, Nils Asther as a mysterious doctor, and Abner Biberman, Marc Lawrence and Dwight Frye as various villains. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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