Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw Cover What's logical one minute, adventurous the next, plus spends most of his time solving mysteries with his bumbling medical pal? No! It isn't that scruffy looking urchin with the curly hair seen on the BBC. It's someone you can get to see if you watch this 74 minute movie made in 1944. It was Directed by: Roy William Neill; and Starred: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, with Gerald Hamer.

Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw : The Film - The Print

Now I understand that you don't want me to investigate the savage murder of your dearly departed wife, Lord Penrose (Paul Cavanagh). Especially since you've already attributed her death to a glowing apparition spotted nearby. But please man, try to see sense. And use me for your source of inspiration. 

I'm a man of science. I'm a man of cold hard logic. And I a man who recently received a letter from your spouse not so long after you heard about her passing. A letter asking for me to help her before... hmmm... it was too late.

Yes. I know it's too late by now, good sir. However, it isn't too late for me and Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce) to look into this crime further. Because I'm sure we'll be able to smoke out this fiend one way or another. 

So far I've managed to deduce that Lady Penrose was once an actor of Canadian decent. And that she had familial ties to a number of people living in your hometown of, 'La Mort Rouge'. Like the esteemed hotelier called Emile Journet (Arthur Hohl) for instance. As well as that reclusive Judge named Brisson (Miles Mander).

More than that, though, I'm nigh on positive that's why what next transpires will become even more mysterious, when I -- the one and only Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) -- spots a glowing apparition nearby. As a policeman lends a helping hand - the local townspeople are as flexible as a rubber band - a killer would never appear on the X-factor - and at the end of the day, please remember you can never trust an actor.

For a change I want to kick off my review by presenting you with my usual filmic facts. Yet, whilst you're going through them, dear reader, can you please pay some extra special attention to one fact in particular, relating to this story's own origins.

Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw Amazon Movie Poster Print
OK. So have you got all that? Good. You may now commence. (1) 'Universal' first released this production in New York, New York, on the exact same day Monte Cassino fell to the Allied Forces -- the 18th of May, 1944. (2) Loosely translated, this project was called 'The Claw' in Germany; whereas every other country stuck to its original red-tinted-title. (3) Just like the majority of the other Sherlock Holmes movies made for 'Universal', this one was also shot at 'Universal Studios', Universal City, located within the American state of California. (4) Even though this mystery wasn't directly based on any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original Holmes tales, it does pay a striking resemblance to his classic 1902 Holmes story, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. (5) Two of the taglines used to promote this picture, were, 'Holmes vs. Monster!' plus 'Holmes Haunts a House!'. (6) At the very end of this flick you can clearly hear Sherlock quoting from the then prime minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill. What you wouldn't have heard him say, though, is, 'God bless him', whilst the fan fare then begins to play out. This was most probably down to the United States not wanting to show any favoritism during this Wartime period. (7) If you look very closely at the names printed in the 'Journet's inn-register', you will notice that one of them belongs to a Mister Tom McKnight of New York. In real life Tom was an adviser for Universal's Holmes series of films. (8) After this flick cut itself shaving, Basil Rathbone starred in the musical-comedy, 'Bathing Beauty'; Nigel Bruce starred in the next Sherlock Holmes film, 'The Pearl of Death'; and Gerald Hamer starred in the crime-drama, 'Enter Arsene Lupin'.

Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw Vintage Film Poster

Now I hope you've done what I've asked for, folks. Because if you've read my facts properly -- which I'm sure you have -- you would have noticed that 'The Scarlet Claw' is basically 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' in disguise.

Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw Starring Basil Rathbone
Admittedly. I don't really know what why it's in disguise. If I did I would have presented my explanation previously. Plus I'm pretty damn sure that the makers of this movie haven't got a clue either. Particularly since it's a blinking marvelous movie jam packed with adventure, suspense, bold characterizations, and a murder-mystery I couldn't get enough of.

Honestly, dear reader. In my eyes this film has got all the timely charm most of the other Sherlock Holmes films have in spades. For instance, you have the simple premise that's one part intriguing and one part evolving. Then you have the cast of suspects you're never quite sure about until the final end reel. And finally you have the glue that holds this whole production together. Basil and Bruce. Two amazing actor's who stamp their ground and leave their mark on both the story-line and on the franchise.

Heck, one of my most favorite scenes in this film is the one where Doctor Watson gets drunk whilst Sherlock spots a glowing figure out in the woods. From my point of view this sequence just goes to show how different the two characters are in temperament and in heed. With Watson playing the venerable clown whilst Holmes proves himself to be the coldly logical master sleuth he really is.

Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw Spanish Film Poster

Sherlock Holmes in The Scarlet Claw Starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce,
Granted, not everything about this flick was all flowers and roses. I personally wasn't too keen on the actor who played the main villain of this piece -- Gerald Hamer. For some strange reason his diction and his delivery felt rather stilted on the screen. Plus I wasn't too happy about how long it took for him to get caught, even though his unveiling happened approximately 20 minutes before the end.

But apart from that, though -- nah! -- 'The Scarlet Claw' is a really-really great film to sit down and watch. The production values were noir-like in tone, especially those scenes out in the blue wild yonder. Most of the actors were on their 'A game', and I did get a kick out of how the policeman helped with this adventure. And overall I couldn't give a toss what they call this film. It's still a superb slice of cinema I'd highly recommend to anyone who loves their mysteries mysterious, and their characters brave and bold.

Nuff said.


SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE SCARLET CLAW (1944) SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE SCARLET CLAW (1944) Reviewed by David Andrews on June 24, 2014 Rating: 5
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