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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 deadly 'swamp viper' used by Dr. Rylott to murder his stepdaughter is obviously a non-venomous python. See more »
Nothing but speckled bands, lines, blips, slips, bumps and jumps
The IMDb has it at 90 minutes long, 66 in the US the same as it states on the back of the budget DVD box I've just watched, but timed at a mere 50. For this has been slashed to ribbons over the years, Persistance Of Vision is sorely tried as well as guessing what scenes were deleted between frame slippages and leaps. Puzzling gaps in the plot are easy in comparison!
There are many bits to enjoy however through gritted teeth - Massey did all right as Holmes, although Athole Stewart as a bald headed and vibrant Watson took me some getting used to. Lyn Harding as Dr. Rylott was splendidly OTT - almost made me wish for Tod Slaughter to make an appearance! Favourite bits: Holmes' bustling outer office at Baker Street, an intriguing development but one I'm glad to report unique; the romantic clinches in the garden between Helen and her boyfriend (straight from getting shot in Elstree Calling) who's not heard of again; Holmes solving the mystery in her darkened bedroom. Where it allows, a beautiful misty gleaming nitrate atmosphere pervades.
I hope there's a decent print out there somewhere, because ultra-creaky as it is this film probably deserves a little more attention than I fear this copy will ever get!
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