The Speckled Band (March 5, 1931)
Released on March 5, 1931: Murder and inheritance occupy Sherlock Holmes in famous actor Raymond Massey's first motion picture.
Director: Jack Raymond
Writers: W.P. Lipscomb, Arthur Conan Doyle
The Actors: Lyn Harding (Dr. Grimesby Rylott), Raymond Massey (Sherlock Holmes), Angela Baddeley (Helen Stonor), Nancy Price (Mrs. Staunton), Athole Stewart (Dr. John Watson), Marie Ault (Mrs. Hudson), Franklyn Bellamy (Alaine), Ivan Brandt (Curtis), Stanley Lathbury (Rodgers), Joyce Moore (Violet Stonor), Charles Paton (Builder)
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A young girl about to be married dies suddenly one evening at home. Her sister suspects foul play, but no one else does. Enter Sherlock Holmes, to discover the truth. It appears that the girl would have gotten a trust fund allowance when she got married, and someone didn't want her to get the money. Now her sister is engaged, and her future looks dire, unless Holmes can deduce the answers. The first sister's dying words to her younger sister was, "Beware of the speckled band." Only Holmes can figure out what this means, and not only prevent the younger sister's death, but turn the tables on the murderer.
If you enjoy movie history, or are a Sherlock Holmes fan, you will find this movie amazing. Filmed in 1931, only a couple of years after sound was introduced to movies, this one has no background music, only the sounds of the area that the microphone picks up. And in some scenes, the acting is very 'silent screen' - you can 'see' the drama intended, but the words are wooden, almost out of place. It won't be until 'method' acting is discovered that the picture and the words are truely 'realistic.' But don't let the primitive standards put you off, you will totally enjoy the difference, and enjoy seeing famous Canadian actor Raymond Massey in his first screen role.