MENTAL NOTE #163, SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT “THE WOMAN IN GREEN” (A 1945 SHERLOCK HOLMES MOVIE), with a FOCUS ON ACTRESS, HILLARY BROOKE

The BEAUTIFUL, and very talented, Hillary Brooke (1914–1999) 

MENTAL NOTE #163: THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT OLD MOVIES THAT I JUST LOVE: IN MANY WAYS, I FIND OLD MOVIES, AND THE ACTRESSES, AND ACTORS, MORE ENTERTAINING TO WATCH, COMPARED TO THOSE OF TODAY — NOT ALL, BUT MANY, AND THAT’S JUST MY OPINION.

I just watched two movies, starring two of my favourite, old-time, actresses: Hillary Brooke, and (Princess) Grace Kelly — Both women were the epitome of elegance. I appreciate both of them for their skills as actresses. They both shined with a timeless beauty, and sophistication, which I can’t really explain — it was just there, in them.

Me — I said that.
That’s the general plot: Hillary Brooke plays the female antagonist, Lydia Marlow.
Four of the main actors in the movie.
Above: The brief bio for Hillary Brooke: Notice that her brother was actor, Arthur Peterson, which I never knew — I’ll discuss Arthur below.

The main thing that I wanted to cover in this MENTAL NOTE, however, was something I noticed for the first time in one of the Basil Rathbone, SHERLOCK HOLMES, movies: “The Woman in Green” (1945), which I’ve seen in black & white many times. The other day, I saw this movie, the colorized version, for the first time.

“The Woman in Green” (1945), that is the name of the movie, staring Basil Rathbone and Hillary Brooke. When watching the black & white version of this movie, you just assume that Hillary Brooke, who plays the character, Lydia Marlow, is, at some point in the movie, wearing a GREEN dress. It never crossed my mind, not even once, that perhaps she NEVER wore a green dress at any time in this movie: You would never know by watching the original black & white movie that she is NOT wearing a green outfit.

When I was watching the colorized version of this movie, I was waiting for the green dress, because obviously, the title must have something to do with the movie — right?

Where’s the GREEN DRESS? That looks like a BLACK outfit to me. But notice, the paint on the interior of the Penbrook House (a bar / nightclub), is a green colour. Also, the interior of her apartment is a light shade of olive green. I wonder if we are supposed to believe that “THE WOMAN IN GREEN”, means, a woman in a green painted apartment? That is a stretch,

Well, I waited and waited. In the first scene of the movie with Hillary Brooke, where she is having a “date (fake date, a set-up)” with Paul Cavanagh, who plays Sir George Fenwick, she is wearing a black dress, or a really dark blue dress — I think it is black. Yes, the colorization of the movie clearly has her dress colour as BLACK, I would conclude. I would think that getting all other colours reasonably correct in the colorization of the movie, but screwing up the dress colour, is unlikely. There’s a considerable difference between BLACK, and GREEN.

Here’s the second outfit she wears in the movie, when she takes Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes) back to her apartment, to hypnotize him.

That certainly looks like a dark blue, or black, outfit. But see, the interior design of her apartment is of a pale green motif.

I thought it was really interesting that I assumed because the title of the movie is, “THE WOMAN IN GREEN”, that Hillary Brooke would actually wear something that was green, in the movie. However, as far as I observed, she never wore a single thing that was green, at least, not in this version of the movie in colour. I’m assuming that all still photographs taken during the filming of this movie, would also be in black & white. Therefore, we would not be able to see from the still photography, the colour of the outfits worn by Hillary Brooke.

Over all, “THE WOMAN IN GREEN” is not one of my favourite SHERLOCK HOLMES movies, but I do enjoy watching it: I would give it a 6 out of 10, at least. I prefer the SHERLOCK HOLMES movies that stick to the 1880’s – 1890’s era setting (“A Study in Scarlet”, was the first story of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, published in 1887). In my opinion, Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, were the best Sherlock Holmes actors: Brett was probably the best at capturing the full essence of the Holmes character. The producers of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes TV show, Granada TV, which ran from 1984 to 1994, was authentic to the time period as much as possible.

Here is some interesting information I discovered while researching Hillary Brooke’s background.

As you may realize by now, I’m a huge SHERLOCK HOLMES fan: I’ve seen all of the movies and TV show episodes starring Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, and many of the other Sherlock Holmes shows portrayed by other actors. I usual notice all of the same actors showing up in the Rathbone movies, and playing different roles. Nevertheless, I completely missed the fact that Hillary Brooke was in three SHERLOCK HOLMES movies.

  1. She was in the “VOICE OF TERROR” (1942), as the Driver (but was uncredited). I’d give this movie at least a 6 out of 10. It wasn’t one of my favourites, but it was entertaining, and it has Hillary Brooke in it.
  2. She was in “SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH” (1943), as Sally Musgrave. Even though this is one of the war-time Holmes movies (not the movie period I prefer); this one however, it is one of my favourites. I would give this movie at least an 8.25 out of 10!
  3. And then, Brooke is back to play Lydia Marlow in “THE WOMAN IN GREEN” (1945). As I mentioned, it was entertaining, and I enjoyed seeing it in colour. And of course, Hillary Brooke plays the lead female role, so that was a big plus for me. I think the main reason I score this movie lower than some of the others, is because I did not like Henry Daniell in the Moriarty role. Daniell is a good actor, but he was not suited for this character. I don’t necessarily believe that Moriarty would be involved in petty blackmail, as was one of the main crimes in this story — the other was murder, of course. The best of the Prof. Moriarty characters was played by actor, George Zucco, in the 1939 period piece movie, “THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.” Zucco’s Moriarty was an excellent, highly intelligent, sociopathic, scheming, criminal mastermind, always looking to take down Holmes, and to pull-off England’s greatest crimes. Zucco was great in this roll. As an example of how good he played Moriarty, there is that one line he speaks to his butler, Dawes, after returning home from being acquitted at his murder trial, and it is simply brilliant: I’m paraphrasing the dialogue from memory, “You would think that for the mere murder of a man, I was locked up for six months; but for this crime, the murder of a flower — YOU HAVE KILLED A FLOWER — you should be flogged, keel-hauled, drawn-and-quartered….” That was epic Moriarty dialogue that you expect from someone who cares so much more for his flowers, than he does for human life: Zucco was the best Moriarty.

In closing, I just wanted to mention two things: One item is about some trivia regarding Hillary Brooke that I did not know about; and the other item, is that I did find that Grace Kelly wore a green outfit in a movie I saw recently — just because I’m discussing the colour green, in movies, and associated costumes.

The First thing is that I just found out that actor, Arthur Peterson, was Hillary Brooke’s older brother. You may remember him as the crazy Major from the very funny 1970’s sitcom, SOAP — Well, at least I remember it as a kid — It was funny as hell!

The Second Thing is that I wanted to show a couple of photos of the beautiful and talented Grace Kelly. Why? Well, just because (the late Princess) Grace Kelly, is one of my all-time favourite actresses, and because she actually wore a GREEN dress in one of my Top-20 favourite movies, “REAR WINDOW”, starring along side the great actor James Stewart.

A screenshot from REAR WINDOW, with James Stewart, and Grace Kelly: There she is in a green outfit.
Grace Kelly: This is Classic Beauty at the Next Level!

BornNovember 121929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
DiedSeptember 141982 in Monaco  (car accident)
Birth NameGrace Patricia Kelly
NicknamesGraciebird
Gracie
Height5′ 6½” (1.69 m)

ADDENDUM:

I have a theory: I would suggest that Hillary Brooke started filming “THE WOMAN IN GREEN,” wearing a green dress. However, after viewing the dailies of filming, the Director and Producers could have noticed that green colour did not produce well in black and white, contrasty, movie film. Therefore, the dress was changed to black, thinking that 99% of the audience would never know the difference. That is my theory, at least.

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4 thoughts on “MENTAL NOTE #163, SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT “THE WOMAN IN GREEN” (A 1945 SHERLOCK HOLMES MOVIE), with a FOCUS ON ACTRESS, HILLARY BROOKE

  1. I agree with your thoughts on the green dress being re-shot with a black dress because it looked better on black and white film. I read that in old black and white movies they used melted chocolate to portray blood because it came across better on the black and white celluloid film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, absolutely. The production team probably had to experiment a bit to come up with a colour rules system, for lack of a better term, as a means to portray in Black and White, the most pleasing and best visual portrayal of assumed colours. Quite interesting. And, I never considered this before.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I thorougly enjoyed The Woman In Green.

    I didn’t mind the World War II setting for the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films because they apparently deeply offended Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels who thought Sherlock Holmes shouldn’t be used against the Third Reich.

    Liked by 1 person

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