A Study in Scarlet (May 14, 1933)
Released May 14, 1933: Sherlock Holmes uncovers a secret society that divides any dying members assets among the surviving members, and someone is killing them off, one by one.
Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Written by Arthur Conan Doyle with screenplay by Robert Florey and Reginald Owen.
The Actors: Reginald Owen (Sherlock Holmes), Anna May Wong (Mrs. Pike), June Clyde (Eileen Forrester), Alan Dinehart (Merrydew), John Warburton (John Stanford), Alan Mowbray (Lestrade), Warburton Gamble (Dr. Watson), J.M. Kerrigan (Jabez Wilson), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Murphy), Billy Bevan (Will Swallow), Leila Bennett (Daffy Dolly), William Standing (Captain Pike), Halliwell Hobbes (Dearing), Hobart Cavanaugh (innkeeper Thompson), Olaf Hytten (Merrydew's Butler), Tetsu Komai (Ah Yet), Tempe Pigott (Mrs. Hudson), Cecil Reynolds (William Baker).
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In May of 1933 unemployment in the U.S. was around 33%, and at all time highs around the world. The Great Depression was raging out of control. Politicians were being kicked out of office and new faces arrived on the scene. In January Adolph Hitler became the head of Germany. In April U.S. President Herbert Hoover left office and Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. The first drive-in movie theater opened June 6 in New Jersey. And Sherlock Holmes was the rage of England and the world. Grab your popcorn and enjoy one of the early movies celebrating the adventures of the world's greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Our mystery today opens with a man found dead in a locked compartment of an arriving train in London town. An obvious suicide, but of course Holmes will prove that it was really murder. We also see Holmes and Watson pondering over a cryptic personal ad in the newspaper, and Watson declares that Holmes could never solve the meaning, and Holms confidently disagrees. Then the widow of the dead man found in the train compartment visits Holmes with a story of woe. It seems that her wealthy husband left every penny of his money to a secret society of seven people, without a penny for the widow. Holmes agrees to investigate, and discovers a society of men that each wear a scarlet ring with a valuable gem, and that they are being killed one by one in ways that are meant to look like suicide. And each of them has signed a pact that whenever any of them dies, their entire estate is split among the survivors, with the last man alive owning it all.
And now some diabolical mad-man, one of the seven, is trying to make sure that everyone dies quickly so that he might have all of their wealth. Holmes follows his deductions down a twisting path to a certain conclusion in this classic telling of the master detective genre tale, Arthur Conan Doyle. If you enjoy puzzling along and seeing each clue as Holmes does, and trying to deduce the killer and the motive before Holmes does, you'll really enjoy this early film of his adventures.