Card cheat Ronald Adair hears a disembodied voice coming from a painting of a cardinal threatening him with exposure and disgrace unless he becomes part of a criminal conspiracy involving counterfeit money. Adair is reluctant and is later found shot in the head in a bank. Holmes rightly suspects that his arch-enemy Moriarty, the master of disguise, is behind the plot. Written by
Creaky and confined early talkie from the UK that is the first of five in this Sherlock Holmes series.
A few of the impressionistic scenes are impressive and lend what little atmosphere is available in the technological and limited restraints of the period. There are some interesting and odd little flourishes and we have some pre-code dialog like "oh my God" and "go to Hell" that would become no-no's in the years ahead.
While the dated delivery is the damper in this otherwise OK presentation and it looks theatrical, but is somewhat enhanced by the creepy characters and some dark and mysterious images. Holmes, Watson, Moriarty, La Strade, and Mrs. Hudson are all respectful renditions. The "game" afoot is complex and Sherlock's deductions are sound.
This long lost film is a welcome find for aficionados and an example of sound movies finding their way, and an artifact worth a view for its time and place. The biggest fault is not its confinement but its soggy and slow delivery of almost all of the dialog where it feels like they were not sure that the on set concealed microphone would catch every word.
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