It’s another Sherlock Holmes movie with Arthur Wontner, one of those unfortunate names that goes up your nose when you say it.
First I’ve ever seen a credit call someone “Late.” Doyle died five years before this was made, so it’s not as if he’d kicked during production.
“Visatone” was an early sound system, also known as “Marconi-Visatone.” I doubt Marconi was involved, since this was rather late in the game for him, and he was off in Italy working with the Fascists. (Fun fact: Marconi’s mother was the granddaughter of the founder of the Jameson Whiskey company, which really ought to make that beverage the official whiskey of radio.) Marconi’s name probably had a residual gee-whiz technological resonance, but it’s like Picture introducing 3D holographic movies as the “Jobs-RealView System” in 2031 - time erodes the reputation of the techno-wizard if he hasn't doing anything lately, and Marconi hadn’t spent the 20s inventing new and exciting radio applications. We shall shine your shoes from the other side of the Atlantic, with radio! On the contrary.
As the movie begins, Holmes is retiring. Hanging up the deerstalker cap, putting away his fiddle, capping his hypo. His only regret is not catching Moriarity, but, ah well – say, there’s a knock at the door. Who could it be?
Moriarty! He’s dropped by to tell Sherlock that he’d better be serious about retiring, which promptly makes Sherlock reconsider his retirement. It’s like calling Marty McFly chicken.
Moriarty! He’s putting together a new criminal syndicate made up of those fearsome foreign agents, American coal miners. (Really. Preposterous idea, eh?) He’s in league with an American crime boss, but the Yank is terrified by Moriarty’s ability to enter and leave rooms without detection. Naturally, this makes Holmes suspicious. Don’t pull that old door-related criminal mastermind dodge on him.
Watching the movie is like chewing Arizona drywall. With a sawdust chaser. For the first half Holmes just walks around deducing. I think he might suspect this guy, though:
I’ve seen that guy somewhere before.
Hold on, that’s my dad.
Let me call home and see if he was in a Sherlock Holmes movie as a young, time-traveling man. Be right back.
Nope. Anyway. While I was busy, the movie apparent went to America to show the origins of the American secret criminal society, which is known as “The Scowlers.” Very American. There’s a lengthy bar scene in which everyone has barely suppressed English accents, there aren’t any liquor bottles, and everyone drinks from pint glasses. A cop comes by, and introduces himself as “Mullman of Chicago Central, “ which is just how American police talk, of course. The flashback occupies 25 minutes of 75 minute film, completely derailing the story. Eventually Holmes returns and solves the crime - although he’d actually solved it to his own satisfaction 17 minutes into the movie.
# of “Dear Watson” s- 17
# of “Elementary, my Dear Watson” - at least one; soundtrack sounded like it was piped from a speaker buried under six feet of lard, so it was difficult to tell.