AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Alternate Title: Sherlock Holmes
Director: Alfred Werker (Dir)
Release Date:   1 Sep 1939
Production Date:   began 5 Jun 1939; retakes 31 Jul 1939
Duration (in mins):   82 or 85
Duration (in feet):   7,200
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes)  
    Nigel Bruce (Dr. Watson)  
    Ida Lupino (Ann Brandon)  
    Alan Marshal (Jerrold Hunter)  
    Terry Kilburn (Billy)  
    George Zucco (Professor Moriarty)  
    Henry Stephenson (Sir Ronald Ramsgate)  
    E. E. Clive (Inspector Bristol)  
    Arthur Hohl (Bassick)  
    May Beatty (Mrs. Jameson)  
    Peter Willes (Lloyd Brandon)  
    Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson)  
    Holmes Herbert (Justice)  
    George Regas (Mateo)  
    Mary Forbes (Lady Conynham)  
    Frank Dawson (Dawes)  
    William Austin (Stranger)  
    Anthony Kemble Cooper (Tony)  
    Leonard Mudie (Barrows)  
    Ivan Simpson (Gates)  
    Brandon Hurst (Footman)  
    Eric Wilton (Butler)  
    Keith Kenneth (Constable)  
    Herbert Evans (Scotland yard man)  
    Dave Dunbar (Scotland yard man)  
    Montague Shaw (Captain Mannering)  
    Harry Cording (Cragin)  
    Denis Green (Sergeant of guard)  
    Charles Irwin (Marine sergeant)  
    Frank Baker (Tompkins)  
    Gordon Hart (Guard)  
    Frank Benson (Cockney)  
    Boyd Irwin (Bobby)  
    Ivo Henderson (Bobby)  
    Leyland Hodgson (Bobby)  
    Bob Stevenson (Cabby)  
    Robert Cory (Sentry)  
    Neil Fitzgerald (Clerk of court)  
    Robert Noble (Foreman of jury)  

Summary: After he is acquitted of murder charges, the arch criminal Professor Moriarty vows to defeat his rival, Sherlock Holmes, by committing the crime of the century. To accomplish his goal, Moriarty confronts Holmes with two diversions. The first is a letter that he sends to Sir Ronald Ramsgate, guardian of the Crown Jewels and Constable of the Tower of London, proclaiming that the Star of Dehli emerald will never reach the Tower of London. Moriarty's letter brings Sir Ronald to Holmes's apartment, and he asks the detective to be present when the jewel is delivered. Holmes agrees to Sir Ronald's request, and immediately after he leaves, Ann Brandon, who has written Holmes for his advice about attending Lady Conynham's garden party, bursts into his apartment. Ann brings Holmes a drawing that her brother Lloyd has just received, depicting an albatross with a knife piercing its breast. Ann is distraught because this is the same drawing that her father received just before he was murdered. Ann is followed by Jerrold Hunter, her fiancĂ© and the family solicitor, who chides her for being melodramatic. Holmes disagrees, however, and takes Anne's case. Holmes then sends his assistant to watch Hunter, and Watson reports that he has seen the attorney with Moriarty. When Brandon is murdered and Hunter is found standing over the body, Inspector Bristol of Scotland Yard accuses Hunter of clubbing Brandon to death. Holmes informs the inspector that although Brandon was beaten, the real cause of his death was strangulation. Holmes then agrees to help Bristol solve the case in return for freeing Hunter. Soon after, Sir Ronald visits Holmes and is upset to find the detective distracted by Brandon's murder. Nevertheless, Holmes agrees to be at the Tower of London for the delivery of the emerald at ten the next evening. Ann then receives a death threat for the next day, the evening of Lady Conynham's party and the delivery date of the emerald. Holmes delegates Watson to guard the jewel while he goes to the party to watch Ann. That night, Moriarty shaves off his beard in anticipation of defeating his rival, Holmes. Meanwhile, at the Tower of London, Sir Ronald is furious at Holmes's absence when a police sergeant and his men arrive to protect the jewels. When the emerald is delivered, Sir Ronald unlocks the case containing the Crown Jewels and at that moment, the lights go off. In the ensuing chaos, the police disappear with the stone, but in the confusion, drop the emerald and Sir Ronald returns it to the case with the rest of the jewels, then leaves. Moriarty, disguised as the sergeant, then emerges from the shadows and steals the Crown Jewels. Meanwhile, at the party, Ann anxiously awaits the passing of midnight and her death sentence. When Hunter comes to visit, he frightens Ann, who runs into the night. Hunter is then struck unconscious by a man wielding a bola, the instrument that strangled Brandon. After missing Ann with the bola, the man is captured by Holmes and confesses that Moriarty hired him. Realizing that the death threats were a trick to distract him, Holmes rushes to Moriarty's apartment, where he finds a guidebook of the Tower of London and deduces that Moriarty is planning to steal the Crown Jewels. Holmes rushes to the tower, where he engages Moriarty in mortal combat, causing the criminal to fall from a turret to his death. With the threat of danger ended, Ann marries Hunter, and Holmes explains to Watson that Moriarty engaged Hunter in a lawsuit to throw them off the track. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Production Text: Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Alfred Werker (Dir)
  William Eckhardt (Asst dir)
  Virgil Hart (2nd asst dir)
Producer: Gene Markey (Assoc prod)
Writer: Edwin Blum (Scr)
  William Drake (Scr)
Photography: Leon Shamroy (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  Hans Peters (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Bischoff (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
Costumes: Gwen Wakeling (Cost)
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge (Mus dir)
Sound: W. D. Flick (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Country: United States
Series: Sherlock Holmes

Source Text: Based on the play Sherlock Holmes by William Gillette (New York, 6 Nov 1899) and characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Authors: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  William Gillette

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 1/9/1939 dd/mm/yyyy LP9334

PCA NO: 5486
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Detective
 
Subjects (Major): Criminals
  Detectives
  London (England)
 
Subjects (Minor): Brothers and sisters
  Gems
  Emeralds
  Engagements
  Impersonation and imposture
  Lawyers
  Murder
  Parties
  Physicians
  Scotland Yard (London, England)
  Tower of London (London, England)
  Threats

Note: The working title of this film was Sherlock Holmes . This was the second of Fox's Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Modern sources note that although the onscreen credits state that the film is based on the William Gillette play, the plot of the film bears little resemblance to the play. In story conferences contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Darryl Zanuck insisted that the film begin with Moriarity conceiving his crimes against Holmes. Zanuck directed that the story concentrate more on suspense and less on "cops and robbers," and he also suggested Cecil Kellaway for the role of Ronald Ramsgate, Forrester Harvey for Bassick and Lionel Atwill for the Justice. For additional information about the series and other films featuring the characters, consult the Series Index and see entry for The Hound of the Baskervilles and Sherlock Holmes

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   19 Aug 39   p. 3.
Film Daily   5 Sep 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   23 May 39   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jun 39   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Aug 39   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Aug 39   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   23 Aug 39   p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald   29 Jul 39   p. 47.
Motion Picture Herald   26 Aug 39   p. 55.
New York Times   2 Sep 39   p. 20.
Variety   6 Sep 39   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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