When the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond is stolen on a London to Edinburgh train and the son of its owner is murdered, Sherlock Holmes must discover which of his suspicious fellow passengers is responsible.
Sherlock Holmes investigates when young women around London turn up murdered, each with a finger severed. Scotland Yard suspects a madman, but Holmes believes the killings to be part of a diabolical plot.
In Paris, a down and out medical student Johann Radek (Franchot Tone) is paid by Bill Kirby (Robert Hutton) to murder his wealthy aunt. A knife grinder (Burgess Meredith) is suspected, but Radek keeps taunting the police until they realize that he is the killer. The police and Maigret (Charles Laughton) are led on chases through the streets and over the rooftops of Paris and finally up the girders of the Eiffel Tower.Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
Considered a flop on it's release it was quickly forgotten and considered a 'lost film' for several decades. The film fell out of copyright and was not renewed as it was considered an 'indpendent' production and the negative was not in the RKO archives and was considered lost (RKO were the original US distributors but not the copyright owners and the film was picked up by independent distributors in most other countries it was screened in). However two color prints eventually turned up, one purportedly in the 1980s and one in the possession of the estate of Burgess Meredith, who died in 1997. Whilst neither print was in fantastic condition, they were cleaned up as much as reasonably possible and the prints shown on TV and released onto DVD are a mixture of the best surviving elements combined from both prints (reports say the surviving prints were 35mm but visual inspection of the grain in the image seems to indicate that at least one of the prints was originally 16mm and then blown up to 35mm somewhere along the line). See more »
When Maigret is reading the 'Letter to the Editor' about the escape, the position of his hands on the newspaper change between shots. See more »
It did not surprise me to discover after watching this film that three different persons directed it. There is no consistent vision to the film, and the narrative is poorly handled: the plot is complicated, with multiple story threads that are not coherently executed. Shot in Anscocolor, an experimental colour processing technique, the film has a strange, washed out look to it, which could be the result of film stock degrading, as everything seems to have a yellow tinge. In general, the film is quite a drag - not particularly well made, nor easy to follow - however it has a significant amount of minor virtues.
The acting in the film is quite adequate, with Charles Laughton doing the best to make his detective character charismatic: he twitches his nose, smokes a pipe, and talks in an almost monotone voice when he is dealing with a suspect. Franchot Tone comes off the best though, giving a real sense of life to his character, a mastermind criminal who is obsessed with the idea that he cannot be caught, and often raves about it to Laughton. Even Burgess Meredith has some interesting moments as an insecure, introverted man caught up in the mess somewhere.
The music, cinematography and art direction are all adequately good too. The music fits to the appropriate mood of each scene, the camera-work is interesting now and again, either following the characters around or tilting up to look at the different bits of scenery, and the scenery, the locations all fit the tale reasonably well. Set in Paris, yet with Americans involved, there is a sense that this is a foreign environment where no one really knows the rules.
It is not a completely virtue-less movie, but it is still a mess overall. There are a number of jump cuts, although with four threads of story poorly woven together, a continuity error here and there does not disrupt too much. The dialogue is rather lame and often only says the obvious, plus the style of the film is melodramatic, and it often seems overdone. A humorous touch or two, Tone's performance and okay music are pretty much all that makes it bearable.
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