Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) spends most of his time in Sussex, but he happens to be in London visiting Dr. Watson (John Mills). Although he is basically retired he is called into a case by Inspector Alec McDonald (Gordon Jackson).
McDonald has had three corpses that all have similar methods of death. One was fished out of the River Thames and two were of homeless men found in Whitechapel. There were no marks on the bodies and no signs of disease but the faces of all three had a look of horror on them that McDonald had never seen before.
Holmes becomes fully engrossed in the case until he receives a visit from the British Home Secretary (Ray Milland) and a German diplomat, Graf Udo Von Felseck (Anton Diffring) to look into the disappearance of a German representative who was in England on behalf of the Kaiser. The man came to Von Felseck’s country home in Buckinghamshire and then just vanished.
Since there is much unrest in Europe and there are fears of a possible war with Germany, the Home Secretary asks Holmes to drop whatever he is doing and investigate the man’s disappearance. He also asks that Holmes work in secrecy. Should the disappearance of this highly placed person be known it could start a war. Holmes doesn’t have much choice but to agree.
Holmes and Watson arrive at Von Felseck’s home and find that he has other guests staying with him. One of them happens to be Irene Adler (Anne Baxter), Holmes’ only female nemesis. Holmes needs to consider if Irene is connected with the disappearance of the diplomat or if there is something even more sinister going on.
“The Masks of Death” was released in 1984 and was directed by Roy Ward Baker. It is a British made for television mystery. The film stars Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes and John Mills as Dr. John Watson. The movie is an obscure film. There has never been an official DVD release. It was released on VHS but copies are hard to find. Sometimes it’s available on youtube.
There are red herrings aplenty here. I found the duo plots a little confusing. I would just get into one case when I was tossed into another, which ended up being a bit of a red herring itself, then back to the first case again. Although the plot was unclear the performances were solid. The cast was one of well established actors.
Peter Cushing played Sherlock Holmes before in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” 1959, with Christopher Lee playing Lord Baskerville. He again played Holmes in the British television series “Sherlock Holmes”. The series ran from 1964 to 1968. This would be his last appearance as the detective and is the last television appearance of Cushing before his death in 1994.
Ray Milland is given a guest appearance even though he has a small role in one scene. It was also Anne Baxter’s last film role.