The Speckled Band (1931 film)

Last updated

The Speckled Band
"The Speckled Band" (1931 film).jpg
Directed by Jack Raymond
Produced by Herbert Wilcox
Written by Arthur Conan Doyle (story)
W. P. Lipscomb (adaptation)
Starring Lyn Harding
Raymond Massey
Angela Baddeley
Nancy Price
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by Maclean Rogers
Production
company
Distributed by Woolf & Freedman Film Service
Release date
  • 5 March 1931 (1931-03-05)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The Speckled Band is a 1931 British film directed by Jack Raymond and an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's original 1892 story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" and the 1910 play he adapted from it, The Speckled Band . [1]

Contents

The film features Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson investigating the fears of a young woman and the suspicious death of her sister.

Plot summary

The film begins on the Rylott estate with gypsies camping on the grounds. Inside the mansion, Violet Stonor screams in her bedroom and then collapses in the hallway. She is discovered by her sister, Helen (Angela Baddeley). Violet's dying words are "the band, speckled." She then dies and their stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Rylott (Lyn Harding), arrives.

Soon there is an inquest into the mysterious death, and Rylott plots with the housekeeper and his Indian servant, Ali. Watson attends the inquest as an old friend of the Stonor family in India. He acts protectively to Helen and advises her to consult Holmes if she ever feels in danger. At Baker Street later, Watson summarises the inquest to Holmes, describing the various witnesses and evidence. Holmes files it away in his systemhe operates a modern office with female secretaries and a voice recording device.

One year later, Helen Stonor is engaged, and her fiancé must leave for a plantation in Rangoon for a year. Helen is afraid and suggests that they marry sooner, so that she may go with him to Rangoon. Dr. Rylott is upset by these plans and decides to murder her to prevent the loss of her inheritance. Rylott forces Helen to move from her room into Violet's old room. The next day, Helen meets with Holmes and Watson in Baker Street they describe her case. Her sister Violet had been engaged to be married before she dies, and Helen remembers hearing mysterious music that night. Now Helen is engaged and is also hearing the mysterious music again. Holmes questions her and sends her out of the room through a separate entrance when her stepfather arrives. Dr. Rylott barges in and threatens Holmes, but he is not deterred.

In the afternoon, Dr. Watson arrives alone to visit Helen Stonor while her stepfather is not home. Holmes is in disguise as a workman dealing with the repairs to the building. Together they investigate Dr. Rylott's room and discover several clues, such as a bowl of milk, a dog whip, and a mirror. Next, they investigate Violet's room, which has a bell-rope that doesn't ring and a ventilator near the bed. The ventilator opens into Rylott's room but is hidden by a painting. When Rylott returns, Holmes and Watson temporarily leave Helen at the house but plan to sneak into the room later to investigate.

That night, Helen spends the night within Violet's room while Holmes and Watson secretly keep watch with her. After snake-charming music plays, a snake enters the room through the ventilator, and Holmes attacks it, sending it back to Rylott's room. Rylott screams. Holmes, Watson, and Helen enter his room and discover Rylott dead from a snake bite. Holmes forces Ali, the servant, to charm the snake so they can put it in the safe. Violet's last words about a "speckled band" were in fact describing "a swamp adder, the deadliest snake in India". The venomous snake had been sent to Violet's room by Dr. Rylott to murder her for her inheritance. Rylott had intended to do the same to Helen.

The movie ends with Holmes conducting an experiment in Baker Street. Watson arrives dressed for a wedding, and Holmes therefore deduces that he is going to a wedding. Watson is pleased to tell Holmes that he is wrong, that he has just come from the wedding of Helen Stonor and her groom. Holmes offers his "condolences" rather than congratulations. Watson says in amusement that "we all come to it", meaning marriage. After Watson leaves, Holmes disagrees quietly, "Not all, my dear Watson... not all".

Cast

Production

The film marked Raymond Massey's first film role and was only the third sound Sherlock Holmes film following The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) and The Sleeping Cardinal (1931). Using Conan Doyle's play as the source, some character names differ from the original short story; the story's Roylott becomes Rylott, Julia Stoner becomes Violet Stonor. Some characters appeared in the play and film that weren't in the original story such as Mrs. Staunton the housekeeper, Rodgers the butler, and the Indian servant Ali. The film also altered the famous address of 221B Baker Street to 107 Baker Street and makes it a state-of-the-art office complete with secretaries and stenographers. [1] [2]

Reception

Vincent Starrett found Massey's performance lacking saying "Mr. Massey as Sherlock Holmes, in The Speckled Band, most famous perhaps of all the Holmes adventures, was a considerable disappointment." Starrett felt that Massey didn't at all look the part opining "he looked like almost any nice, young, brown-haired college boy, wrapped in a dormitory dressing gown, smoking a bulldog pipe." [3] Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times disagreed saying "Mr. Massey's performance is pleasing, intelligent and restrained" and said of the film "The Speckled Band succeeds in being moderately interesting." [4]

Related Research Articles

Sherlock Holmes Well-known fictional detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, deduction, forensic science, and logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic, which he employs when investigating cases for a wide variety of clients, including Scotland Yard.

<i>A Study in Scarlet</i>

A Study in Scarlet is an 1887 detective novel written by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story marks the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who would become the most famous detective duo in popular fiction. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes, a consulting detective, to his friend and chronicler Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his "study in scarlet": "There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."

A Scandal in Bohemia

"A Scandal in Bohemia" is the first short story, and the third overall work, featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It is the first of the 56 Holmes short stories written by Doyle and the first of 38 Sherlock Holmes works illustrated by Sidney Paget. The story is notable for introducing the character of Irene Adler, who is one of the most notable female characters in the Sherlock Holmes series, despite appearing in only one story. Doyle ranked "A Scandal in Bohemia" fifth in his list of his twelve favourite Holmes stories.

Lyn Harding

David Llewellyn Harding, known professionally as Lyn Harding, was a Welsh actor who spent 40 years on the stage before entering British made silent films, talkies and radio. He had an imposing and menacing stage presence and came to be cast as the villain in many films, notably Professor Moriarty in dramatisations of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

221B Baker Street Address of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes

221B Baker Street is the London address of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the United Kingdom, postal addresses with a number followed by a letter may indicate a separate address within a larger, often residential building. Baker Street in the late 19th century was a high-class residential district, and Holmes' apartment would probably have been part of a Georgian terrace.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band Short story by Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Adventure of the Speckled Band" is the eighth Sherlock Holmes short story, and the tenth Holmes story overall, by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was originally published in Strand Magazine in February 1892, with illustrations by Sidney Paget, and later as the eighth story in the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The story tells of Helen Stoner, a soon-to-be married young woman who suspects her stepfather may be trying to kill her in order to retain control of her inheritance. Convinced of her stepfather's intentions, she turns to Holmes for help.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were very popular as adaptations for the stage, and later film, and still later television. The four-volumes of the Universal Sherlock Holmes (1995) compiled by Ronald B. De Waal lists over 25,000 Holmes-related productions and products. They include the original writings, "together with the translations of these tales into sixty-three languages, plus Braille and shorthand, the writings about the Writings or higher criticism, writings about Sherlockians and their societies, memorials and memorabilia, games, puzzles and quizzes, phonograph records, audio and video tapes, compact discs, laser discs, ballets, films, musicals, operettas, oratorios, plays, radio and television programs, parodies and pastiches, children's books, cartoons, comics, and a multitude of other items — from advertisements to wine — that have accumulated throughout the world on the two most famous characters in literature."

<i>The Spider Woman</i> 1943 mystery film directed by Roy William Neill

The Spider Woman is a 1943 mystery film starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, the seventh of fourteen such films the pair were involved in. As with all of the Universal Studios films in the series, the film is set in then-present day as opposed to the Victorian setting of the original stories. This film incorporates elements from the novel The Sign of the Four, as well as the short stories "The Final Problem", "The Adventure of the Empty House", "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" and makes explicit reference to "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot".

Canon of Sherlock Holmes

Traditionally, the canon of Sherlock Holmes consists of the 56 short stories and four novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this context, the term "canon" is an attempt to distinguish between Doyle's original works and subsequent works by other authors using the same characters.

<i>Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace</i> 1962 film by Terence Fisher

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace is a 1962 mystery film directed by Terence Fisher. It was a West German-French-Italian international co-production. The film starred Christopher Lee as Sherlock Holmes and Thorley Walters as Dr. Watson. Curt Siodmak wrote the screenplay, based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Sherlockian game is the pastime of attempting to resolve anomalies and clarify implied details about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from the 56 short stories and four novels that make up the Sherlock Holmes Canon by Arthur Conan Doyle. It treats Holmes and Watson as real people and uses aspects of the canonical stories combined with the history of the era of the tales' settings to construct fanciful biographies of the pair.

<i>The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson</i>

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is a series of Soviet television films portraying Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional English detective, starting in 1979. They were directed by Igor Maslennikov. In 2006, Vasily Livanov became an Honorary MBE for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

Mrs. Hudson is a fictional character in the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. She is the landlady of 221B Baker Street, the London residence in which Sherlock Holmes lives.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is a 1979 Soviet film adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novels about Sherlock Holmes. Directed by Igor Maslennikov it is the first of a 5-part TV film series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The film is divided into two episodes – "The Acquaintance" and "Bloody Inscription".

Dr. Watson Fictional character, associate of Sherlock Holmes

John H. Watson, known as Dr. Watson, is a fictional character in the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Along with Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson first appeared in the novel A Study in Scarlet (1887). The last work by Doyle featuring Watson and Holmes is the short story "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" (1927), though this is not the last story in the timeline of the series, which is "His Last Bow" (1917).

<i>The Hound of the Baskervilles</i> (1983 film) 1983 film directed by Douglas Hickox

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1983 British made-for-television mystery thriller film directed by Douglas Hickox, starring Ian Richardson as Sherlock Holmes and Donald Churchill as Dr. John H. Watson. It is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

<i>Sherlock Holmes</i> (1965 TV series)

Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes are two British series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations for television produced by the BBC in 1965 and 1968 respectively. The 1965 production, which followed a pilot the year before, was the second BBC series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, after one starring Alan Wheatley in 1951.

<i>Sherlock Holmes</i> (play)

Sherlock Holmes is a four-act play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, based on Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes. After three previews it premiered on Broadway November 6, 1899, at the Garrick Theatre in New York City.

From 1921 to 1923, Stoll Pictures produced a series of silent black-and-white films based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Forty-five short films and two feature-length films were produced featuring Eille Norwood in the role of Holmes and Hubert Willis cast as Dr. Watson with the exception of the final film, The Sign of Four, where Willis was replaced with Arthur Cullin. Consequently, Norwood holds the record for most appearances as Sherlock Holmes in film.

The Speckled Band is a 1910 play in three acts by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, based on his own 1892 short story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band".

References

  1. 1 2 Bunson, Matthew (1997). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana: an A-to-Z guide to the world of the great detective. Macmillan. p. 247. ISBN   0-02-861679-0.
  2. Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 265–267. ISBN   9780857687760.
  3. Starrett, Vincent. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes . Otto Penzler Books. pp. 154–155. ISBN   1-883402-05-0.
  4. Hall, Mordaunt (7 November 1931). "THE SCREEN; The Brave and the Fair, and a Thriller From, the Sherlock Holmes Detective Series. A Conan Doyle Tale. Cinderella Wins Out. A Jolly German Operetta. Those Gangsters Again". The New York Times . Retrieved 14 January 2018.