The criminal head of a band of jewel thieves, known as The Scarlet Ring, starts killing off his comrades as each man has pledged to forfeit their holdings to the surviving members of the group upon their death. The widow o... more »f one of the murdered men gets Holmes (Reginald Owen) and Watson on the case.« less
A 1933 Holmes film available on DVD--interesting but flawed
Rudolf Schmid | Kensington, CA | 02/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This 1933 B&W film, which clocks at 72 minutes, not the 77 stated on the box, is enjoyable as an early example of a Sherlock Holmes movie. However, the video and sound quality are rather iffy. The print is fuzzy and of low contrast, whereas the sound track has a loud continuous background noise that sometimes makes the characters hard to understand.
The movie features Reginald Owen as Holmes, who had starred as Watson in a 1932 film, and who would star as Scrooge in the 1938 film A Christmas Carol. Owen does a decent speaking job as Holmes but visually jars as he is by far the chubbiest Holmes on screen. Warburton Gamble plays a undistinguished, at times whining (due to the cold) Watson. The film is also of interest because of its 1933-vintage costumes and settings. There are two obvious goofs: Holmes's digs are at 221A Baker Street instead of 221B, and the bungling Scotland Yard inspector is Lastrade instead of Lestrade.
The story has nothing to do with the Arthur Conan Doyle study of the same name. Rather, the movie deals with a mysterious secret trust, the Scarlet Ring. Its members progressively die off, accompanied by a nursery rhyme--and then there were five, four, .... Agatha Christie borrowed this motif in her 1939 mystery novel (and later a play), Ten Little Niggers (American titles: Ten Little Indians, And Then There Were None), which, curiously, has a character named Owen."
Reginald Owen's only appearance as the Great Detective
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 11/23/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an odd duck of a Sherlock Holmes film. Anyone who knows the first thing about Holmes knows that A Study in Scarlet was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first story about the Great Detective, so it's only natural that this early film (1933) would bring that story to life - but it doesn't, as this Study in Scarlet has very little in common with Doyle's published story. The really odd thing about this film, though, is Holmes' address, which is 221A Baker Street rather than 221B Baker Street. A pre-Scrooge Reginald Owen doesn't make for a bad Sherlock (but he does make for a plump one), although he comes up woefully short against the likes of Basil Rathbone and the incomparable Jeremy Brett. I should note that this is Owen's one and only appearance as Holmes - and, somewhat ironically, it came a year after he played Dr. Watson opposite Clive Brooks' Sherlock Holmes.
This is a fairly standard pastiche affair. You've got this secret little society calling itself the Scarlet Ring, and it's clearly up to no good. Holmes first hears of it when the widow of one of its members seeks his help after seeing her dead husband's estate turned over to the group, leaving her with nothing. Apparently, the group's leader, smarmy lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew (Alan Dinehart), has been in Holmes' sights for some time, and he is eager to finally nab him. In a way, it's a race against time because members of the Scarlet Ring keep turning up dead under suspicious circumstances. Holmes does his investigation (including a little undercover work in disguise), figures everything out, and - in the end - explains it all to Watson and the rest of us. That explanation includes some pretty big facts that we had no possible way of knowing on our own, though, and that never sets too well with me.
With shadowy killers, secret passages, coded messages, and a blonde damsel in distress, this Study in Scarlet makes for a perfectly adequate little mystery - but neither the film nor Reginald Owen truly captures the essence or carries the aura of vintage Sherlock Holmes. And poor Dr. Watson (Warburton Gamble) might as well be a piece of furniture, as he serves almost no purpose in the film."
Unique Holmes film
classics collector | Florida | 04/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Study In Scarlet the film has very little to do with the novel of the same name. On it's own merits though it is a highly enjoyable classic mystery film. There are plenty of twists and atmosphere and I greatly enjoyed Reginald Owens as Holmes. Owens may take some time to get used to if you are used to Rathbone or Brett. He's different, unique, and exquisite in his own way. I love this movie!"
A Good Holmes Mystery
GameraRocks | Gillsville, GA USA | 02/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The movie is so old it is at times almost faded out, but the story itself is rather interesting. The plot of the story has been used in many things including an episode of the Simpsons. It's the beauty of Holmes stories, as the story progresses, it's as if you are Holmes trying to figure out who did what and who didn't.
I think that anyone that enjoys a good mystery with an interesting plot, you'll like this even if you aren't yet a fan of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. For a low price, it's worth it."
MINOR SHERLOCK ENTRY
Guy De Federicis | east of here | 02/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent cast, save a lackluster Dr. Watson, in a so-so Sherlock Holmes mystery based loosely on Conan Doyle's original title. The film is old and creaky and refuses the high psychological logic of Sherlock Holmes' perfect science in a few apparent plot holes, but the supporting cast is exceptional, and although star Reginald Owen's Sherlock leans a little closer to Perry Mason, he quite fits the shoes of the famed detective."