Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

THE SCARLET CLAW


THE SCARLET CLAW (1944). Director: Roy William Neill.

"For the first time we've been retained by a corpse."

After learning of the murder of Lord Penrose's (Paul Cavanagh) wife, supposedly at supernatural hands, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) receives a note from the very same woman telling him of her fears and apprehensions. Holmes and Watson then head to the small Canadian village of Le Morte Rouge [The Red Death] to investigate the series of mysterious deaths that have occurred there, including that of Lady Penrose. Creepy and suspenseful, with those great Universal sets and that certain atmosphere, The Scarlet Claw emerges as one of the best of the "modern-dress" Holmes films. This was not based on any of Doyle's original stories. Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are as wonderful as ever, as is the ever-reliable Cavanagh, and there's fine support from Gerald Hamer, Miles Mander, Kay Harding, Ian Wolfe and Arthur Hohl. Very well-directed by Neill. Watson makes an interesting reference to a famous "Father Brown" story by Chesterton.

Verdict: Spellbinding. ***1/2.

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