Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Claw

More old school films here at TGE... this Sherlock Holmes tale come all the way from 1944! I was a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories since I was barely old enough to read. I've only seen some movie versions of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous character and none of them were very good. On the advice of a collegue of mine, I decided to look back a few years. Directer Roy William Neall made a bunch of Sherlock stories in the twilight of his career and I selected The Scarlet Claw to start with. Sherlock (Basil Rathbone) recieves a letter from a dead woman (she was alive when she wrote it) and things are set in motion. Joined by Watson (Nigel Bruce), Holmes sets off to Le Mort Rouge in Canada. The town believes a monster is killing people on the swamps outside of town.

Of course in older stories it was logical to set up each character as a suspect. So you get led around through Sherlock's search from character to character with the full intention of red herrings everywhere. The climatic finish takes a turn from modern movies where the killer is not a major character... but I will leave it at that since there is more to it than just that.

The two leads are both accomplished actors and the direction is solid. The set pieces used are quite good for 1944 with some nice moody atmospherics. Even with modern effects today, there is nothing like a black and white film with some big ol' smoke machines. Filmgoers with an appreciation of older films with no doubt be satisfied with this film. However, if you are still b&w adverse, perhaps you should try something else.


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