A STUDY IN SCARLET (director: Edwin L. Marin; screenwriters: from the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle/Robert Florey/Reginald Owen ; cinematographer: Arthur Edeson; editors: Martin G. Cohn/Rose Loewinger; cast: Reginald Owen (Sherlock Holmes), Anna May Wong (Mrs. Pyke), June Clyde (Eileen Forrester), Alan Dinehart (Thaddeus Merrydew), John Warburton (John Stanford), Alan Mowbray (Inspector Lestrade), Warburton Gamble (Dr. John H. Watson), J.M. Kerrigan (Jabez Wilson), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Annabelle Murphy), Billy Bevan (Will Swallow), Leila Bennett (Daft Dolly), Wyndham Standing (Captain Robin S. Pyke), Halliwell Hobbes (Malcolm Dearing), Cecil Reynolds (William Baker), Tetsu Komai (Ah Yet), Hobart Cavanaugh (Innkeeper Thompson), Tempe Pigott (Mrs. Hudson); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Samuel Bischoff/Burt Kelly/William Saal; Alpha Video Distributors; 1933-UK)
“Enhanced by the presence of Anna May Wong.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Only a middling Sherlock Holmes episode, that makes the mistake of changing the storyline from the novel. It’s enhanced by the presence of Anna May Wong, who makes a charming villain. Edwin L. Marin (“Fast and Loose”/”Nocturne”/”Johnny Angel”) directs while Robert Florey adapts from the Arthur Conan Doyle novel.
A death on a train is uncovered by Sherlock Holmes (Reginald Owen) as not a suicide but a murder, as the victim’s widow retains Holmes’ services. Holmes links the murder to a mysterious Scarlet Ring organization led by the ruthless blackmailing lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew (Alan Dinehart), who holds secret meetings with his organization in London’s Limehouse district. The members are dying off one by one, and after each death their properties are dispersed among the survivors. Eileen Forrester (June Clyde) is an innocent who joins the group to replace her murdered father, and her life is now in danger. This prompts her fiance (John Warburton) to seek out the help of Holmes. When a Capt. Pyke (Wyndham Standing) is slain in the Limehouse meeting place in front of Eileen but his body disappears and is later found in the Thames, a puzzled Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard (Alan Mowbray) calls on the master sleuth for help. Pyke’s Chinese wife (Anna May Wong) identifies her husband’s body by the ring he wore, which arouses Holmes’ suspicion. When, of the seven original members, only Eileen, a mysterious Chinese man Ah Yet and a frightened Wilson (J.M. Kerrigan) remain alive, Holmes learns from Wilson that Mrs. Pyke invited him to stay the weekend at her country estate, called the Grange. It’s also learned that Eileen received a phony telegram from Holmes and is also staying at the Grange. Holmes, his assistant Dr. Watson (Warburton Gamble) and the police have the place surrounded, and in the course of preventing further murders learn the criminal motive of the ring and who is the other culprit besides Merrydew and Mrs. Pyke.REVIEWED ON 6/6/2008 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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