While neither of these films are classics, both have enough redeemable aspects to warrant a viewing - in fact, despite the largely negative critiques I've heard about 'The Deadly Necklce' and its notoriously bad dubbing, I found the movie itself and, in particular, a young Christopher Lee's Holmes to be rather endearing. Granted, they will most likely be of greater appeal to serious Holmesians or aficionados of 'grainy' old 1930's movies, but they do satisfy on those accounts.
'The Deadly Necklace' has occasionally been accused of a convoluted plot. On the contrary, I felt that aside from Lee's marvelous portrayal of the Great Detective (which left me disappointed this was his sole casting as a young Sherlock Holmes, as the man had the stately bearing and exuded a quiet, confident intelligence) the story line was one of its saving graces. Loosely based on The Valley of Fear, it mostly contained original elements revolving around the theft of Cleopatra's necklace which Holmes suspects has been stolen by Professor Moriarity, who is apparently an archeologist of some repute in this movie. Holmes' methods of purloining the necklace, his use of disguise and his somewhat dramatic last minute denouement in returning the jewels to their rightful owners at the auction all rang true.
Alas, were it not for that atrocious dubbing, I honestly might rank this as one of my favorite adaptations despite the copious amounts of cheesiness. Deadly Necklace was originally filmed without live sound, so the words were not so much out of synch as the voices coming out of them were a tremendous letdown. Lee has a wonderfully rich voice, and to hear a second rate overly chipper actor speak his lines had me shaking my fist at the director.
But for all the enjoyable moments, there were also some very strange, unintentionally humorous ones. Such as the painfully out of place 1960's smooth jazz background music and the fact that while the leading actors were dressed in impressively authentic Victorian costumes, the supporting cast and extras on the street all wore somewhat more modern attire. Watson was also something of a dolt at times, though Thorley Walters looked the part and came through even when the script failed by playing up his loyalty and devotion to Holmes.
'The Speckled Band' did not work for me as a Sherlock Holmes film, or rather, Raymond Massey and Athole Stewart were, in my opinion, antithetical to Doyle's Holmes and Watson. They had neither the physical aspects or deportment of their respective characters, and the movie itself was an odd amalgamation of Victorian and modern. Filmed in 1931, it attempted to capture both the classic era and the feel of its own time, and failed spectacularly on that account. Fortunately, there were only a few minor scenes of this vein. Otherwise, it had that gothic aura particular to silent films and those of the early '30s. I did like the elaboration of the gypsy back story, and Dr Roylott was wonderfully creepy - as was that rather striking live snake used for what was a bland climax in comparison to that of the original story. While I cannot say this worked as a Holmes movie, I actually did appreciate it as an old mystery flick.
Faults these movies do have, but it was sheer joy to watch Christopher Lee as Holmes, especially since I had seen him many years ago playing the aging detective, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved him in the role. Even the miserable dubbing job could not completely detract from his characterization, and while it certainly left much to be desired, I found it made for an unexpectedly pleasurable watch.