Saturday, September 23, 2006


I don't know if it's really fair to review a movie during which I fell asleep, not once but twice, but here goes. I'm a odd Sherlock Holmes fan: I've probably only read four or five of the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, but I'm a big fan of the Rathbone movies and I enjoy reading the Holmes pastiches and tributes written by other writers. Though this film's title is also the title of the first published Sherlock Holmes story, the movie's plot has nothing to do with it. Given that, the story isn't a bad one, but if you've ever read or seen an adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians," you'll know what to expect. Reginald Owen, a fine supporting actor of the 30's and 40's, perhaps best known as Scrooge in the 1938 CHRISTMAS CAROL, does a nice job as Holmes, who is called upon by a widow (Doris Lloyd) whose husband's inheritance is going not to her, but to a small "secret" group called the Scarlet Ring, whose members split up the inheritance money of the others--an arrangement called a tontine, also used as a plot device in Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Wrong Box." When other members of the group begin dying mysteriously, Holmes suspects that one member is getting greedy and tries to track him or her down. Warburton Gamble makes a particularly colorless Watson, though Alan Mowbray as Lastrade and Alan Dinehart as the chief suspect are both good, and Anna May Wong has a small but important role. The movie has a cheap Poverty-Row look, but delivers some atmosphere toward the end. My falling asleep had more to do with me than with the movie, although it's not exactly a nail-biter. [DVD]

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