In London, a secret society led by lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew collects the assets of any of its deceased members and divides them among the remaining members. Society members start dropping ... See full summary »
Holmes, retired to Sussex, is drawn into a last case when.arch enemy Moriarty arranges with an American gang to kill one John Douglas, a country gentleman with a mysterious past. Holmes' ... See full summary »
Leslie S. Hiscott
Violet Stoner dies under mysterious circumstances in her bedroom at the gloomy mansion of her brutish stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Rylott. Because Violet had become engaged to be married, she stood to inherit a substantial annual allowance from her parents' estate but never survived to collect it. Her last words were "The Speckled Band!" Now, her sister Helen has become engaged, and the mercenary doctor views the event as money out of his pocket as she stands to get a yearly stipend too. When he orders her to start sleeping in her sister's bedroom, and she finds the bed bolted to the floor, she fears that a fate similar to Violet's will befall her. She turns to the residents of 221B Baker Street for help. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
An interesting set up for this Sherlock Holmes tale. He works out from an office: he is in the inner office and his two secretaries in the outer office. This is equipped with "modern-for-that-time" equipment that supposedly has all the information available on all criminals. It seems that this is stored on cards - one can see a card sorter working and (perhaps) printing out to paper. One secretary, typing very rapidly, listens to a non-electrical recording on a cylinder through earphones a little like a stethoscope - the other secretary is upset as Sherlock Holmes knows even more about the criminal world and keeps modifying the system. Later he uses an unseen communications system to call a secretary from his (inner) office. See more »
The only version of this film which survives today appears to have lost some twenty minutes of its running time, and has obvious gaps where scenes, or parts of scenes, are missing.
That said, what remains is very good indeed. Raymond Massey, in his film debut, makes his only appearance as Holmes, wandering about in his technological empire in Baker Street in his silk dressing gown, looking more like Noel Coward than a master of crime prevention. However, his manner and sarcasm when comparing his memory to that of his machine index of criminals saves the day and stops the character descending into caricature.
Watson - Athole Stewart - is convincing as an ex-army man who served in India, and one senses he is more than a match for the villain of the piece, the scene-chewing Lyn Harding recreating his stage triumph as Dr Rylott. Our heroine is played by Angela Baddeley - who is remembered best these days for her work in the 1970s as TV's Mrs Bridges in 'Upstairs, Downstairs'. Here she definitely sounds more upstairs than down, with her cut-glass vowels, and seems to have but one emotion - wide-eyed terror.
With a few character additions, notably a Native servant as befits a Sahib from the Raj, the tale of the 'Speckled Band' is largely faithful to Conan Doyle, although the transformation of Baker Street HQ into a bust office with a secretary and typists is simply a curio, and does not compare to the traditional chaos and pipe smoke we would usually expect.
Massey's Holmes is devious, sharp, clever, and almost fey. I particularly like the ending, which frames the characters of both Holmes and Watson - it would have been interesting to see this develop into a series with the same pair of actors. As it is, it remains an adaptation one can savour even with the cuts and jumps in plot which have become a casualty of time.
Can be obtained on DVD in several budget sets.
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