The Speckled Band (1931)

     One of the earliest talkie films based on the Sherlock Holmes stories, The Speckled Band (1931) is a public domain film heavily edited from its original form.  British and Dominion Films Corporation produced the film, which they released on March 5, 1931.  Raymond Massey has his first starring role as Sherlock Holmes.

     The film is set in 1930s England.  Sherlock Holmes is a famous detective with a secretarial pool devoted to his and Dr. Watson’s business.  However, outside of the setting changes, the story is a faithful retelling of The Speckled Band short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

     One of two stepdaughters of Dr. Grimsbey Rylott ask Sherlock Holmes for help after her sister dies mysteriously in their house.  Dr. Rylott insists that his other stepdaughter also sleep in the same room, where her sister died.  While the first death was recorded as natural, Holmes has his doubts.


Raymond Massey in a still from Things to Come (1936)

     Unfortunately, the film is a little hard to follow because it is edited so heavily.  The film is in the public domain but most copies are poor and cut down from the original film.

     The Speckled Band was the third film role for Raymond Massey and his first starring role.  Born on August 30, 1896 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Massey graduate college before starting in film in 1929.  Before he made his last film in 1973, Massey played in 86 films mostly in a starring or co-starring role.

     The Speckled Band runs about 50 minutes in it’s current form.  Let me know what you think of the film.

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