Director Thomas Bentley’s 1937 double-murder mystery thriller stars the near-ideal Arthur Wontner in his fifth and final portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. This time, unusually, Holmes finds himself defending a racehorse (Silver Blaze) accused of murdering the groom-trainer (by death-inducing kicking) and galloping off from the scene of the crime.
Wontner, Ian Fleming as Dr Watson, Lyn Harding as Professor Moriarty and John Turnbull as Inspector Lestrade are all on fine form in this fair but not outstanding British Holmes series entry, based by screen-writers Arthur Macrae and H Fowler Mear on a neat and nifty Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story. Unfortunately the film is again set in its Thirties period of making, with a car chase and Holmes, Watson and the Chief Constable attacked by a Tommy-gun-armed Colonel Sebastian Moran (Arthur Goullet).
Also in the cast are Judy Gunn, Lawrence Grossmith, Arthur Macrae, Eve Gray, Martin Walker, Robert Horton and Minnie Rayner as housekeeper Mrs Hudson.
Basil Rathbone was to be the next and arguably the definitive Sherlock, but Wontner does not need to be forgotten. It was released in the United States by Astor Pictures in 1941 as Murder at the Baskervilles, retitled to cash in on the success of Rathbone’s Holmes film, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939). Neither Moriarty nor Baskerville appears in Conan Doyle’s story.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4480
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