Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Sherlock Holmes Double Feature The Deadly Necklace/The Speckled Band|
Actors: Christopher Lee, Senta Berger
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Gotham (dba Alpha) Release Date: 07/25/2006
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OK if you're a Holms collector; otherwise, forget it.
R. C. Walker | Encinitas CA, United States | 11/20/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The fact that a film is on DVD doesn't guarantee that its quality is very good. The fact that a film's quality is threadbare doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it. In addition to Overstock, one may find this pairing of Sherlock Holmes films on Amazon and Deep Discount. In any case, the price is only a few bucks. Whether this is a good bargain I leave to the reader.
The plots of these films are of little consequence. They are of interest only to people who collect Holmes films ... anybody who merely wants a few of the better offerings would do well to purchase some of those made by Jeremy Brett ... or, in a pinch, Basil Rathbone. There are a few other very good Holmes films featuring good actors on a one-shot basis - such as "Seven Per Cent Solution" or "Private Life of Sherlock Holmes". In any event, these films are considerably less estimable.
Here we have a pair of films featuring some of the best actors to do Holmes, even if the results tend toward disappointing. This appears to be the only disc with these films on it (although "Deadly Necklace") appears by itself in the same version on other discs.
"(Sherlock Holmes and) the Deadly Necklace" dates from 1962, although it neither looks it nor sounds it. Some who have seen this may be surprised to learn that it was produce by Hammer Studios. Not that Hammer hasn't turned out some really schlock stuff, but where Christopher Lee was concerned, they usually did a better job. The print a direct transfer from a rather worn 1:1.33 copy in black-and white. The quality of the color suggests the original may have been in color, and the snipped ends of the film's aspect suggest it may originally have been 1:1.66 or more.
The film is set in the early 20th Century - not improbable, since Holmes was still working then (and didn't actually die until 1957). However, the script is not adapted from any actual Doyle story. It involves an Egyptian necklace, and Professor Moriarty shows up as a world-famous archaeologist as well as the Prince of Crime. The plot is melodramatic and banal.
The biggest defect of this film is that - for whatever unfathomable reason - Hammer filmed it in Germany. It was nonetheless filmed in English. It was then dubbed in German and then re-dubbed in English. So what you hear isn't Lee nor any of the other original actors, but a bunch of unknowns - not that, outside of Lee, I doubt anyone would know any of the other actors. This is too bad, since Lee (see his "Hound of the Baskervilles") makes a quite decent Holmes. As it is, his voice double is condescending and plain as bread pudding with no raisins nor cinnamon.
The music for this film is primarily jazzy, in a possible attempt to be "period". Too bad nobody thought of ragtime. As it is, the music doesn't relate to what's happening on the screen, and often is at odds with the action.
The other film is "(Sherlock Holmes and) the Speckled Band" from 1931, starring a young Raymond Massey. The quality of the picture and sound is fully up to that of the 1962 effort, and in fact a bit better. Massey makes a quite respectable Holmes, although he certainly doesn't own the rôle in the way Rathbone did and Brett does. The other thespians who take part in this production are unlikely to be of interest to modern readers. The acting - as is true of many films of this period - owes a lot to the post-Victorian stage and to silent films.
There is very little else to be said of this film. The settings seem to be an odd combination of the 1890s (horse-drawn carriages) and the 1920s (electronic devices such as a primitive dictaphone). Taken altogether, it's an interesting curio and a sufficient inducement to buy the DVD with the pairing rather than a DVD with "Deadly Necklace" only."