This Arthur Wontner Sherlock Holmes Playlist contains 4 full-length films made from 1931 to 1937.
Arthur Wontner played Sherlock Holmes in 5 films from 1931 to 1937. The series, though short, were considered successful. All the films were set in the 1930s which make adaptation challenging.
The second film called The Missing Rembrandt is considered lost at the moment. The other four films are freely available on Youtube. I’m not sure whether they are in the public domain but I have listed them here in order of their release. The films are in black and white and I am pleasantly surprised at how good the sound quality of some of the films were.
1931 – The Sleeping Cardinal or Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour
Synopsis: What is the connection between a failed bank robbery and a young diplomatic attache’s winning streak at cards? Holmes discovered that the trail of clues points to Professor’s Moriarty’s involvement.
Also known as Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour. Based on the Adventure of the Empty House and the Final Problem. A trivial: why is the film called The Sleeping Cardinal?
1932 – The Missing Rembrandt
This film is based on The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, the master blackmailer in Conan Doyle’s original novel. This film is considered lost. But I am hoping that someone has it somewhere in their attic, and one day it will be digitized and shared with the world.
1932 – The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes’ Greatest Case
I am afraid the screenwriter murdered the novel with his liberties. Firstly, he removed the mystery at the start of the novel (why and who gave precious pearls to Mary Morstan) by telling the back story right from the start. Secondly, he turned Jonathan Small into a criminal gang leader instead of the vengeful betrayed soldier. He made Holmes look more like a psychic than a really smart and observant man. He lacked the wit and humour of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Clearly not one of my favourite. End of rant.
1935 – The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes
Based on the Valley of Fear, Doyle’s fourth novel. The plot is flawed. The back story was inserted in the middle of the film, I wonder what value it adds to the film. I also do not see any evidence to support Holmes’ arrest of Professor Moriarty near the end of the film. Baldwin is dead and all the evidence Holmes discovered were for Douglas’ faking his own death.
1937 – Silver Blaze
This film is based loosely on the Adventure of Silver Blaze. In the US, it is released as Murder at the Baskervilles. It is positioned as a sequel to The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is 20 years after. I thought Moriarty died in the Triumph of Sherlock Holmes. Apparently not. LOL!