Murder at the Baskervilles
Why thank you very much for inviting us to your grand abode, Sir Henry Baskerville (Lawrence Grossmith). I'm sure Dr. Watson (Ian Fleming) and myself will have a most enjoyably stay here. Especially since Inspector Lestrade (John Turnbull) gave us a tip on an up and coming horse race within the vicinity.
Well, just between the two of us, of course, only the other day the good Inspector recommended that we should place a bet on a horse to win this completion. Your horse, my friend. Your horse called the 'Silver Blaze'. Nigh on guaranteeing us that your grand stallion should be the first....
Eh? What in damnations was that infernal racket? Oh no! Don't tell me someone has killed your stable hand and stolen the horse in question? Oh, dear, Sir Henry! That's a damn nuisance, isn't it?
But please don't concern yourself with this matter, old bean. As the game is a foot. My game that is! My game of sussing out who committed this heinous crime by prowling through the moors, whilst asking a lot of question's in the process.
Then again, that's most probably why what transpires all takes a run and jump when I say to myself, 'Sherlock (Arthur Wontner) old chap. You don't think Professor Moriarty (Lyn Harding) is behind this, do you?'. As a horse is hidden from prying eyes - a stable hand is found out for telling lies - a race comes down with a tremendous cough - and at the end of the day, a vile villain it finally told to pi** off.
I must confess, dear reader, 'The Silver Blaze' was one of those black and white movies I liked for its story-line, yet didn't like for its execution.
Having said that, though, this is a very old slice of antiquated cinema, and it does date back to 1939. Plus more or less, I got used to this cosmetic pit-fall the longer it played out. Particularly since some of the actors were able to tell the actual tale in a very straight-laced fashion.
Honestly, folks. For yours truly I thought Arthur's portrayal of Sherlock was right on the money. Not only because he looked and sounded the part, yet he also had that meticulous manner of deducing and sleuthing like some sort of Victorian doctor. And as for the Doctor -- yeah -- he did a pretty good job too. In his own humble manner Ian appeared very comfortable and self-assured in his role of Doctor Watson, whilst Lyn scared the living sh*t out of me playing Moriarty, mainly because of his very imposing stature and gruff demeanor.
As for the rest of the cast on the other hand, well, nah! They were too stiff or prim-and-proper, so to speak. And most of them came across as a mixture of one-dimensional stereotypes and secondary players that couldn't really cut the mustard.
Oh! Wait a minute! While I'm on the topic of mustard, funnily enough, I'd say this said-same garnish is how I would perceive this tale. It's not to everybody's tastes, unless you enjoy something that is peppery and spicy and is able to confuse your taste buds.
Confused -- in a good way of course -- as this flick managed to do two things where the central narrative was concerned. Firstly, unlike some more modern day thrillers, it told a murder mystery that unfolded the longer it progressed, and didn't just set-up a pretext for the characters to play off of. And secondly, the three principal characters took charge of this film by staking their ground. Sherlock was the hero. Watson and Lestrade were his side-kicks. Plus Moriarty was the bad-guy. Simply put. And simply defined.
Overall I'd say 'The Silver Blaze' was a pretty nifty movie to sit down and watch. Even though cosmetically it looked rather mundane, the story told a rather good story, and it is well worth seeing if you haven't seen Arthur's version of Holmes yet.
THE RATING: B-