Silver Blaze (1937)


(director: Thomas Bentley; screenwriters: Arthur Macrae/H. Fowler Mear, based on the short story Silver Blaze by Arthur Conan Doyle; cinematographer: Sydney Blythe/William Luff; editors: Michael C. Chorlton/Alan Smith; music: De Wolfe; cast: Arthur Wontner (Sherlock Holmes), Ian Fleming (Dr. John H. Watson), Lyn Harding (Prof. Robert Moriarty), Arthur Macrae (Jack Trevor), Judy Gunn (Diana Baskerville), John Turnbull (Inspector Lestrade), Robert Horton (Col. Ross), Arthur Goullet (Moran, Moriarty henchman), Martin Walker (James Straker), Eve Gray (Mrs. Straker), Lawrence Grossmith (Sir Henry Baskerville), Gilbert Davis (Miles Stanford), D.J. Williams (Silas Brown, horse owner), Ralph Truman (Bert Prince), Minnie Rayner (Mrs. Hudson, housekeeper), Ronald Shiner (Simpson, the Stable Boy); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Julius Hagen; Alpha Video Distributors; 1937-UK)

“Enjoyable standard Sherlock Holmes fare that could have been better if not for the tepid direction.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Enjoyable standard Sherlock Holmes fare that could have been better if not for the tepid direction and awkward acting from most of the supporting cast. Thomas Bentley (“The Living Dead”/”The Great Defender”/”The Old Curiosity Shop”) is the director. It’s based on the short story Silver Blaze by Arthur Conan Doyle, which was published in the Strand Magazine in 1892, and is written by Arthur Macrae and H. Fowler Mear. Arthur Wontner might not be the most recognizable Holmes portray-er to an American audience, that would be Basil Rathbone, but arguably he’s the best (at least that’s what many Brits think, and I don’t know if I concur that he’s the best but I do like him as Holmes). The former stage actor was 61 when he portrayed Holmes in this picture. Silver Blaze, as it was known in England, was the last of the Wontner Holmes movies.

Under the urging of Dr. Watson (Ian Fleming, the Aussie actor and not the writer of James Bond), Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Wontner) accepts an invite from his old friend Sir Henry Baskerville (Lawrence Grossmith) to vacation on his estate in Essex. But immediately the two Baker Street, London, sleuths are involved in a case, as the prized racehorse of Colonel Ross, Silver Blaze, is stolen a few days before the big race where he’s the favorite and his trainer James Straker (Martin Walker) is found dead in the moors from a blow to the head. Also the groom has been poisoned, as someone slipped opium into his curry supper. Inspector Lestrade (John Turnbull), an old friend of Holmes’s from London, agrees to have Holmes help and agrees with Holmes after some urging that Jack Trevor (Arthur Macrae, also cowriter), the wealthy aristocrat fiance of Diana Baskerville (Judy Gunn), the daughter of Sir Henry, is not a suspect in the crimes even though he has large gambling debts.

The case gets complicated when Holmes deduces that his old nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Lyn Harding), working out of a new secret hide-out in London, is behind these crimes. Holmes’ brilliant investigation will yield the motive and who hired the evildoer, as the Professor’s nasty scheme involves the use of a silent air machine gun, disguised as a camera, to commit the crimes.