A Study in Scarlet (1933)

Article #796 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-20-2003
Posting Date: 10-17-2003
Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Featuring Reginald Owen, Anna May Wong, June Clyde

Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder of several members of a secret society.

Title check: Since the elements that explain the title of the Sherlock Holmes novel on which this movie was based are not present in this adaptation, the only relevance the title has to the story is telling you that it’s about Sherlock Holmes.

The opening credits says that the story of the movie was “suggested” by the events in the novel of the same name, which seems to me to be a nice way of saying that the movie isn’t going to follow the story of the novel, and sure enough, it doesn’t; we never even get near Utah. It takes place in the present (I can tell by the motorcars), so this is certainly not period Holmes either. The story itself seems more similar to TEN LITTLE INDIANS than any of the Holmes stories, as each member receives a verse of a poem that heralds his death; in fact, you should have no trouble figuring out the murderer as long as you’re familiar with an all-too-common mystery term that appears in one of the poems. Overall, it’s not too bad, with some fun scenes and a decent story, but Holmes purists won’t be pleased. The oddest liberty taken with the Holmes stories is that Holmes and Watson live at 221-A Baker Street instead of 221-B Baker Street. Complaining about a change like that is definitely picking nits, but it’s also such a pointless change from the original stories that it just calls attention to itself.


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