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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
OK if you're a Holms collector; otherwise, forget it.Nov. 20 2006
R. C. Walker
- Published on Amazon.com
The fact that a film is on DVD doesn't guarantee that its quality is very good. The fact that a film's quality is threadbare doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it. In addition to Overstock, one may find this pairing of Sherlock Holmes films on Amazon and Deep Discount. In any case, the price is only a few bucks. Whether this is a good bargain I leave to the reader.
The plots of these films are of little consequence. They are of interest only to people who collect Holmes films ... anybody who merely wants a few of the better offerings would do well to purchase some of those made by Jeremy Brett ... or, in a pinch, Basil Rathbone. There are a few other very good Holmes films featuring good actors on a one-shot basis - such as "Seven Per Cent Solution" or "Private Life of Sherlock Holmes". In any event, these films are considerably less estimable.
Here we have a pair of films featuring some of the best actors to do Holmes, even if the results tend toward disappointing. This appears to be the only disc with these films on it (although "Deadly Necklace") appears by itself in the same version on other discs.
"(Sherlock Holmes and) the Deadly Necklace" dates from 1962, although it neither looks it nor sounds it. Some who have seen this may be surprised to learn that it was produce by Hammer Studios. Not that Hammer hasn't turned out some really schlock stuff, but where Christopher Lee was concerned, they usually did a better job. The print a direct transfer from a rather worn 1:1.33 copy in black-and white. The quality of the color suggests the original may have been in color, and the snipped ends of the film's aspect suggest it may originally have been 1:1.66 or more.
The film is set in the early 20th Century - not improbable, since Holmes was still working then (and didn't actually die until 1957). However, the script is not adapted from any actual Doyle story. It involves an Egyptian necklace, and Professor Moriarty shows up as a world-famous archaeologist as well as the Prince of Crime. The plot is melodramatic and banal.
The biggest defect of this film is that - for whatever unfathomable reason - Hammer filmed it in Germany. It was nonetheless filmed in English. It was then dubbed in German and then re-dubbed in English. So what you hear isn't Lee nor any of the other original actors, but a bunch of unknowns - not that, outside of Lee, I doubt anyone would know any of the other actors. This is too bad, since Lee (see his "Hound of the Baskervilles") makes a quite decent Holmes. As it is, his voice double is condescending and plain as bread pudding with no raisins nor cinnamon.
The music for this film is primarily jazzy, in a possible attempt to be "period". Too bad nobody thought of ragtime. As it is, the music doesn't relate to what's happening on the screen, and often is at odds with the action.
The other film is "(Sherlock Holmes and) the Speckled Band" from 1931, starring a young Raymond Massey. The quality of the picture and sound is fully up to that of the 1962 effort, and in fact a bit better. Massey makes a quite respectable Holmes, although he certainly doesn't own the rôle in the way Rathbone did and Brett does. The other thespians who take part in this production are unlikely to be of interest to modern readers. The acting - as is true of many films of this period - owes a lot to the post-Victorian stage and to silent films.
There is very little else to be said of this film. The settings seem to be an odd combination of the 1890s (horse-drawn carriages) and the 1920s (electronic devices such as a primitive dictaphone). Taken altogether, it's an interesting curio and a sufficient inducement to buy the DVD with the pairing rather than a DVD with "Deadly Necklace" only.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre Film Redeemed By Christopher Lee's HolmesAug. 26 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
just for addicts!July 19 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Not the best of Sherlock Holmes films, neither The Deadly Necklace nor The Speckled Band. The last being new to me, was still interesting, but...
The Most Famous Fictional DetectiveJune 14 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
Sherlock Holmes Double Feature: Deadly Necklace & Speckled Band
Criminologists say murders are caused by love and money (or lust and greed). You can observe these facts in your newspapers. Hate is the obverse of love; both are emotional responses between individuals. Greed for money (and what you can buy with it) is often the motivation in many mystery novels. For those who say "money can't buy happiness", you just don't know where to shop [read a consumer's magazine]. This product has two Sherlock Holmes movies that are worth watching. You won't see them on your local TV stations (like many of the movies of yesteryear).
"Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" was filmed in 1962 Germany. The speech is doubled, the lips do not match the English words. Note the Continental influences on these scenes, such as in "The Hare and Eagle". Its story was inspired by "The Sign of Four" and "The Valley of Fear". It is an example of a new story that is as good as the original (because of its sources).
"The Speckled Band" was filmed in 1931 England and is quite faithful to the original. A young woman and heiress is afraid for her life; her sister died in an unusual circumstances. [No medical examiners as in Europe.] Holmes and Watson investigate and save Helen's life. Dr. Rylott answers to a higher judge for his crimes. [Was this inspired by the Dr. William Palmer case from decades earlier?] This movie reflects the culture of that era, such as with that band of Gypsies.
An excellent Holmes in a poorly produced film.Nov. 20 2013
Charles L. Davidson
- Published on Amazon.com
A cheaply made Sherlock Holmes film. Christopher Lee is a good Holmes and does his best in this otherwise rather dismal motion picture.