Sunday, December 4, 2011

Silver Blaze (1937)

Vacation At The Baskervilles

Moriarty is back (never mind the events of the previous film) and Holmes is the only one that can stop him. The catch is that the two classic characters cross paths by mere happenstance while Holmes and Watson vacation at Sir Baskerville's place. Happenstance or not, no matter where he is Holmes will solve any case, anytime. The death of a man and the disappearance of Baskerville's prized racing horse, Silver Blaze, puts Holmes into action off the cuff in what turns out to be a rather stagnant story. 

Due to the success of the 1939 Basil Rathbone-starred The Hound Of The Baskervilles, this film's title was changed for its 1941 American release from the Conan Doyle short story and original UK title Silver Blaze to the more Hollywood-friendly Murder At The Baskervilles. But no matter what you call it (I'm going with the original title), Silver Blaze is easily the worst of the Arthur Wontner Holmes films.

Arthur Wontner and the laid-back brilliance he brings to the Sherlock Holmes character is in fully swing and is, as usual, nowhere near the list of negatives for Silver Blaze. Unfortunately, Wontner is not good enough as Holmes to make up for the rest of the film. The story is surprisingly not messy and (while the competition is not particularly tough) easily claims the prize as the most competently told story (as far as narrative structure goes) of the Wontner era. However, the main problem with Silver Blaze is that it is just plain boring. The film is on life-support. Visually, director Thomas Bently should have been much more creative and, atmosphere and story-wise, the film lacks any sort of energy - Silver Blaze is just a boring, boring movie.

So after nearly a decade as Arthur Conan Doyle's master sleuth, the Arthur Wontner Holmes era ends in a whimper, rather than a bang, with 1937's Silver Blaze.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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