Sherlock Holmes

  • 1932
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

Clive Brook's acting career lasted nearly a half-century before he died in 1974 at the age of 87, and yet he is hardly remembered for his portrayals of Sherlock Holmes because most people think of Basil Rathbone as the definitive Baker Street detective. Brook did his first Holmes part in THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES in 1929, then this one, which was based...read more

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Clive Brook's acting career lasted nearly a half-century before he died in 1974 at the age of 87, and yet he is hardly remembered for his portrayals of Sherlock Holmes because most people think of Basil Rathbone as the definitive Baker Street detective. Brook did his first Holmes part in

THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES in 1929, then this one, which was based on Gillette's stage play from the Conan Doyle stories. To anyone accustomed to the asexual Rathbone role, Brook's portrayal will come as a surprise, as the script calls for a man who has an ongoing relationship with a woman that

carries through the entire picture and results in the two of them being united at the conclusion. Brook had shown he could play drawing room antics, with Dietrich in SHANGHAI EXPRESS, and he was again called upon to do that here with Jordan. Although the screenplay's derivation is credited to

Gillette's stage drama, it was actually scenarist Milhauser, who would write many of the later Holmes films, who added his own wit and intelligence to the ancient play and made it come out the way it did, filled with humor and biting observations. The infamous professor Moriarty, Torrence, is on

trial and sentenced to hang for his nefarious deeds. Torrence tells Scotland Yard Inspector Mowbray and Judge Shaw that they will die before he does. (Mowbray played in many of these films, appearing as Inspector Lestrade as well as Sebastian Moran.) Next, we are in Brook's apartment when Jordan

arrives and their loving relationship is established with some sharp exchanges. Young Leeds, a young lad studying criminology, arrives to serve tea. (Leeds grew up to be a TV comedy writer-producer.) Then Owen (as Dr. Watson) enters to say that Torrence is now out of the way. (Owen played Holmes

in A STUDY IN SCARLET, thus making him the only actor to have played both leading roles in the Conan Doyle stories.)

It isn't long before they get word that Torrence has escaped and means to get even with Mowbray, Brook, and the prosecutor who handled the case. Brook and Mowbray clash after the prosecutor disappears. When his body is eventually discovered, the name of his killer is scrawled on the wall:

"Moriarty." At a wax museum, four top criminals from Germany, Spain, France, and the U.S. are there to meet Torrence. Suddenly, in the eerie half-light, one of the wax figures comes to life. It's Torrence, who has been holding himself still and listening to the crooks. He tells them that he wants

to bring organized crime techniques to London and reap the rewards. Torrence arranges to have Brook inadvertently kill Mowbray when he lets loose the information that an assassin is coming to kill him. Brook shoots and Mowbray falls to the floor. The newspapers have a field day as they know that

Brook and Mowbray have been enemies over the years. But it's all a ruse cooked up by Brook and Mowbray to bring Torrence out into the open. The Torrence gang starts to extort money from businesses (there's a very funny scene with Mundin as a Cockney pub owner), beginning the British version of the

"protection" game. One afternoon at Jordan's family's estate, Brook arrives dressed in drag, looking like Ray Bolger in CHARLEY'S AUNT. He tells Jordan's father, a banker, that the plot perpetrated by Torrence and his international goons, Prival, D'Arcy, Fields, and Graves, is a ploy. Their real

plot is to rob the old man's bank. Now Torrence calls at the estate to tell Jordan's father that Jordan is now his hostage and will be killed unless the old man helps the crooks rob his own bank. The denouement occurs underneath the savings institution with a shootout in which Torrence is killed

and results in the others being captured. Back at Brook's apartment, a wedding is planned and Mowbray will stand in as Best Man because Owen has been called away due to his mother's illness (probably because the good doctor couldn't stand to see his roommate marry). Brook and Jordan will leave

London and take up lives as, believe it or not, chicken farmers. Lots of fun, good comedy relief and an unaccustomed romantic Holmes make this worth seeing, despite some of the more dated aspects of the picture.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Clive Brook's acting career lasted nearly a half-century before he died in 1974 at the age of 87, and yet he is hardly remembered for his portrayals of Sherlock Holmes because most people think of Basil Rathbone as the definitive Baker Street detective. Br… (more)

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