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)
The only print I've seen of this is pretty badly chopped up. They didn't make much of an effort to preserve these "b-movie" mysteries back then.
The film is directed in much the same manner as Browning directed the Lugosi "Dracula" around the same time - slow, stagy, with emphasis on atmosphere, and with all the young women given over to hysterics.
The film unnecessarily violates the Holmes canon when it shows us the bevy of young starlet secretaries Holmes has hired to aid in his investigations (?!), But most of the story, and its characterizations, are faithful to the original story.
The real surprise here is Raymond Massey - he is an absolute magnificent Holmes, every bit as good as the great Jeremy Brett of the Granada TV series; and, given the stodginess of the rest of the film, I suspect that he essentially directed himself - he moves quickly, easily, and directly, while the rest of the cast stands around waiting for their cues.
I can only recommend this to Holmes completists; but Massey's performance is not to be missed by anyone who admires the master sleuth of Baker Street.
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