The Scarlet Claw (1944) – Movie Review

the scarlet claw from 1944 was a murder
mystery thriller based on sir arthur
conan doyle’s sherlock holmes character
and it starred basil rathbone and nigel
bruce this was a great film and thanks
to my friend indigenous bert for this
recommendation and also the channel five
bags of popcorn that also recommended
this one it was a great film and i’ll
give an overview of the movie and then
give some closing thoughts
well the film opens up and we have
sherlock holmes and dr watson they are
in canada at an occult conference when
one of the characters there are lord
penrose played by actor paul cavanaugh
who i caught not too long ago in the
film house of wax with vincent price
well he gets a word that his wife lady
penrose has been murdered
so sherlock holmes and watson are about
to leave for home when they get a
from this lady penrose that she had sent
before she had been murdered
asking for help
holmes says we’ve been retained by a
so holmes and watson go to penrose manor
but they receive a very cold reception
there from lord

they do manage to sneak in and do a
quick examination of the body before
being forced to leave
and they check into some local lodging
so they can continue their investigation
now it’s here that the girl at the
counter marie played by actress k
harding helps him out we see she’s been
crying as apparently she has been
mistreated by her father
the innkeeper jeanette they speak to him
a little suspicious of him
and in speculating about the murder they
suggested maybe he was the killer and he
had used a garden weeder as an
instrument of the killing but of course
he denies it
holmes tells watson
to go to like this local pub and blend
in with some of the locals but be
inconspicuous and what follows is of
course a silly scene as watson walks
around and the locals are all just kind
of staring at him as an outsider and
he does manage to overhear a character
named potts played by actor gerald
hammer who is this very bright and
colorful guy he’s talking away about how
this is the handiwork of the
so watson you know has a seat with him
and they start talking together and in
the course of their conversation they
both get completely wasted so watson
scenes we can tell are more for
silliness here but they do establish
that these locals are afraid of
something that is lurking in the marshes
but we don’t know what it is some sort
of creature
holmes meanwhile has gone to meet with
the police sergeant and he plans to go
out and explore the marshes himself
and as he does so it’s dark and spooky
we hear the ringing of a church bell
and there’s some just great suspenseful
music and eerie atmosphere as he goes
looking around investigating
now suddenly there’s this eerie glowing
figure that runs towards him and it’s
kind of a neat special effect for 1944 i
thought and holmes grabs his gun and
takes a few shots at this mysterious
creature i mean he gets about four shots
fired he misses completely
but as a creature flees
holmes finds a scrap of this glowing
fabric from its body on a tree now
watson and some of the other characters
had gone to look for holmes and watson
you know being a silly fellow
had managed to fall into a bog
so they bring him back home and the poor
guy is all you know sick now you know
again he’s a comic relief but it’s all
fun and holmes of course he’s not
convinced that this is the work of a
monster in the bog but it’s somebody
wearing this glowing outfit it’s covered
with phosphorus
holmes learns that this is part of an
expensive shirt that had been purchased
earlier by a retired judge whom he goes
to visit
and judge bryson played by actor miles
mander is this grumpy old guy he’s in a
wheelchair he’s got a shotgun and a
german shepherd
he doesn’t want to be bothered now
holmes and watson they do visit him and
the servant reluctantly lets them in by
this judge he’s got the gun aimed at
homes and tells them to leave
holmes says that he can help save this
guy’s life but he doesn’t care so on the
way out
we see that holmes accidentally drops an
envelope and they leave now the judge
gets up from his chair walks over to get
the envelope right as holmes returns
you’re not the you pretend to be
he says well the judge’s tone changes he
lets him come in to sit down and he
discusses with him how he lives in fear
of this monster the judge tells holmes
that he had a servant give some of his
old shirts to a boatman character
so off holmes and watson go to find this
boatman character jack tanner they do
manage to find him they encounter him
briefly as this you know big bearded guy
and they also notice he’s got the
glowing outfit hanging up nearby
now holmes accuses this guy of being the
murderer but before they can get the
sergeant to grab him
this guy just dashes out a window and
runs away along a rooftop and then does
this amazing dive out into the water in
the process
holmes looks around and discovers a
fragment of a photograph that gives him
another clue
the clue leads holmes back to the
penrose estate
and he is able to piece tanner’s piece
of the picture together with one that
was owned previously by lady penrose now
lord penrose appears with a gun and
demands to know what’s going on and
holmes shows him the connected picture
we find out that lady penrose had
retired from acting after seeing another
actor killed by an actor alistair ramsen
now lord penrose tells holmes that they
believe ramsen had been killed in a
prison break
holmes though deduces that tanner and
ramsen are the same person
and that this guy may be blending in as
someone in the local village
home soon learns that judge bryson was
the one who had sentenced this character
ramsen so he hurries over but it’s too
it appears from the shadows that his
maid has crept up and stabbed and killed
so holmes finally arrives and finds the
judge murdered and has made nora has
been tied up and she had no idea who it
was who had
committed this crime somebody had
dressed up as the maid and murdered the
so holmes returns to the boarding house
from earlier and he’s able to find the
character ramsen but ramson has a gun
drawn to kill him now note at this point
we never actually see his face it’s all
in the shadows and he’s about to reveal
the name of his next victim
when a bumbling watson outside startles
him by making a noise so there’s an
escape and ramsen gets away now holmes
has figured out that the next victim is
likely to be this jeanette character the
innkeeper so they head back but they
discover they’re too late and that marie
his daughter has actually been the one
holmes goes and finds a judge with a
plan to put an end to everything with
only a few minutes left of this film
i’ll let you see the exciting conclusion
for yourself
so just some closing thoughts about the
scarlet claw this was directed by roy
william neal and was the sixth in a
series of 12 sherlock holmes films that
basil rathbone and nigel bruce made for
it’s not actually based on any story by
arthur conan doyle although there are
themes of hound of the baskervilles kind
of worked into this film
i have heard it referred from
several peoples the best of the series
and in different reviews and so on the
working title of this film was sherlock
holmes in canada which makes sense as
the film was set in a small village near
quebec city
it was interesting too that universal
decided to
sort of update homes to the 1940s so
it’s a little more modern i suppose with
electricity and automobiles and whatnot
but it still does feel like it could
have just as easily been in the late
19th century
now this is the first sherlock holmes
film that i’ve reviewed for this channel
and i thought that basil rathbone was
so far most of what i’ve seen him in is
basically that of the sinister villain
such as you know from the adventures of
robin hood or the mark of zorro
i think he’s excellent when he plays a
bad guy but you know here is holmes he
just seems a perfect fit for the role
he’s cool he’s logical he’s driven to
his investigations it’s everything you’d
expect from the character
but even though he seems
you know detached and focused on his
work we do see that he has an emotional
side as well such as when he laments
finding the character marie who has been
and there was nothing he could do about
it i just thought he was an excellent
actor he’s really got me wanting to
watch more movies in this series
and of course nigel bruce was
excellent as dr watson i’ve seen him in
other non-homes films like the two mrs
carroll’s with humphrey bogart and even
there you know he’s got this very jovial
likable character to him and true maybe
his silliness was a little much in the
scarlet claw but i liked it i like the
balance he brings kind of the silliness
to go with the seriousness of holmes
gerald hammer was a colorful character
in this film who actually appeared in
four other films of the sherlock holmes
series so i’ll have to look for him
now if internet movie database is to be
believed there have been around
350 different actors to play sherlock
holmes over the years
including many huge names like peter
cushing christopher lee christopher
and far too many films i’ve honestly
never seen it’s really impressive
now growing up i do remember jeremy
brett’s rendition of holmes
on pbs
and i’ll be honest i’ve not really seen
any of the newer incarnation of holmes
such as with robert downing jr
or the doctor strange guy what’s his
name benadryl cucumber patch but as my
three fans know at this point if given
the choice of films i’m gonna go
watching films from 80 years ago more
than modern stuff maybe i’ll get to them
by the way
if you do what i do when you watch a
movie and you’ve got the internet movie
database app opened on your phone to
kind of cross-reference where you’ve
seen old actors well
if you haven’t seen this film yet then
don’t do this
because when researching this film while
i was watching it i discovered there’s a
major spoiler when you look at the cast
and crew page i’ll just leave it at that
but it effectively ruins the surprise of
the film so
just be aware if you do that type of
thing like i do where you think oh yeah
where do i know this actor from
yeah i just ruined the film so just be
forewarned anyhow that’s the scarlet
claw from 1944. really enjoyed this one
it was a very entertaining sherlock
holmes mystery and i really thought
basil rathbone was fantastic here
it’s a great film worth checking out

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