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A Study in Scarlet (1933)

Passed | | Mystery, Thriller | 14 May 1933 (USA)
In London, a secret society led by lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew collects the assets of any of its deceased members and divides them among the remaining members. Society members start dropping ... See full summary »

Director:

Edwin L. Marin

Writers:

Arthur Conan Doyle (suggested by book "A Study in Scarlet") (as A. Conan Doyle), Robert Florey (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Reginald Owen ... Sherlock Holmes
Anna May Wong ... Mrs. Pyke
June Clyde ... Eileen Forrester
Alan Dinehart ... Merrydew (as Allan Dinehart)
John Warburton ... John Stanford
Alan Mowbray ... Lestrade
Warburton Gamble ... Dr. Watson
J.M. Kerrigan ... Jabez Wilson
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Murphy
Billy Bevan ... Will Swallow
Leila Bennett ... Daffy Dolly
Wyndham Standing ... Capt. Pyke
Halliwell Hobbes ... Dearing
Edit

Storyline

In London, a secret society led by lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew collects the assets of any of its deceased members and divides them among the remaining members. Society members start dropping like flies. Sherlock Holmes is approached by member James Murphy's widow, who is miffed at being left penniless by her husband. When Captain Pyke is shot, Holmes keys in on his mysterious Chinese widow as well as the shady Merrydew. Other members keep dying--Malcom Dearing first, then Mr. Baker. There is also an attempt on the life of young Eileen Forrester, who became a reluctant society member upon the death of her father. Holmes' uncanny observations and insights are put to the test. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 May 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

En studie i rött See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The reason "A Study in Scarlet" used only the title of Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story and not Doyle's actual plot is that the Conan Doyle estate quoted the producers a price for the rights to the title and a considerably higher price to use the original story. So the producers paid the lower price and hired "B" director Robert Florey to write a new story, though he and dialogue/continuity writer Reginald Owen peppered their script with allusions to other Holmes stories by Conan Doyle. See more »

Goofs

Holmes and Watson's address is given as 221-A Baker Street, rather than the more familiar 221-B. See more »

Quotes

Sherlock Holmes: Come, Watson; the game is afoot.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Sprockets: Sherlock Holmes (1993) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Don't study it too hard
5 November 2009 | by hte-trasmeSee all my reviews

"A Study in Scarlet" was produced by the low-budget E. W. Hammons at the low-budget Tiffany Studios starring a former Watson (possibly cast because of his association with Holmes films), Reginald Owen, as Sherlock Holmes. The presence of Holmes and Watson is the only connection to the Arthur Conan Doyle story of the same name, and that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. I have no problem with a Sherlock Holmes film straying from slavish fidelity to the creator of the character. However, this one seems to deviate from the original not as a result of the filmmakers' creativity being exercised in order to make something new, but often in ways that make Holmes into someone that resembles a generic detective protagonist more than the most recognizable of them all.

It's a little odd to see a supposed Sherlock Holmes dart around wearing clothes clearly dated to the 1930s (the only appearance of the famous deerstalker is in cartoon form in the opening titles), but since the story doesn't depend on anything terribly time-period appropriate, the transposition to the contemporary setting doesn't have too much of an effect. A curiosity here is that we are repeated told that Sherlock Holmes lives at 221A Baker Street, not the traditional 221B, even though he still seems to be living upstairs. Whether that's a simple error on somebody's part or a nod to the liberties being taken with the original stories there is no way to tell.

Owen, unfortunately, is rather stiff and unremarkable in is portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Many point out that he doesn't look the part (and, traditionally, he doesn't) but that hasn't been a problem for countless other actors. If he had managed to make the role his own through his performance it wouldn't have been for him either. He has little presence and seems to think that if he bellows each line with enough conviction and self-satisfaction he'll sound as if he knows what he's talking about.

Sadly the rest of the actors are rather wooden and unimpressive as well, including Anna May Wong. Warburton Gamble makes no impression as Watson, and some of the murder victims are laughably unconvincing in their hesitant screams for help at their dying moments. Everything is taken deadly seriously except for some overplayed comic relief involving characters at a pub, which only semi works.

There is a good mystery story at the heart of this film about a circle of criminals whose members are being murdered one-by-one, but the execution (including the direction which, the exception of one clever shot inside Merrydew's office near the end, mainly doesn't go beyond static two- an three-shots) is too lackluster to serve it well. The scriptwriter deserves credit for a good concept and for a good method of developing the story through showing us going on in all quarters without completely explaining its significance, but nobody else seems to have been trying very hard.

It's still entertaining most of the time, and fun for viewers who will eat up anything Holmesian, but it's far from the best executed film version of the detective's adventures.


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