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Sydenham Film Club presents Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

Neil Pettigrew and Sydenham Film Club

Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon

7.30pm Thursday 14 May
Golden Lion, 116 Sydenham Road SE26 5JX map
Tickets: £5 on the door, free to members.

The film club and the Sydenham Society have teamed up with local author Neil Pettigrew to present a special event which explores the fascinating life and career of Lionel Atwill − a homegrown film and stage actor who was a huge box office success in the 1920s, 30s and 40s and who starred alongside actors such as Boris Karloff and Marlene Dietrich.

Pettigrew’s talk will be followed by a rare screening of the 1942 film Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, starring Atwill as Moriarty. This is one not to be missed!

Atwill, who spent his early years in a terraced house in Lennard Road in Penge, rose from relative obscurity to enjoy a successful career on the London stage and Broadway before being spotted by Hollywood producers as the ideal figure to play macabre roles in horror movies or as crazed, super villains in detective films.

Sydenham author Neil Pettigrew will draw from his comprehensive recent film autobiography Lionel Atwill: The Exquisite Villain to give us a short illustrated talk on Atwill’s life and career, followed by a showing of Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942). This is the fourth in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of 14 Sherlock Holmes films which updated the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the present day.

Set during the Second World War, Lionel Atwill plays the part of Professor Moriarty who aligns himself with the Nazis and has dedicated himself to stealing a new, top-secret weapon. Will the “Napoleon of Crime” be successful in turning the tide of the war against Britain and her allies or will the wit and cunning of the world’s most famous detective save the day? Come along and find out. And on the 14 May, you’ll also hear an account of how Atwill’s career came to a sudden and dramatic end after he was implicated in holding “orgies” at his Hollywood home.

For film buffs and horror aficionados, or for people who would like to know more about a truly interesting home-grown Hollywood character, Lionel Atwill: The Exquisite Villain is available from, the publisher’s website Midnight Marquee Press, Kirkdale Bookshop, or directly from the author at for £17.99.

Join the event on Facebook   |   Watch the trailer