Cast & Crew
William K. Howard
In London, prior to his sentencing, evil professor James Moriarty gives a speech in which he promises that all the individuals involved in sending him to the gallows shall die before he does. Meanwhile, famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes, who is retiring from the detective business, prepares to give his new invention, a ray gun that will destroy criminal automobiles, to the police as a retirement gift. Holmes sets out to begin his retirement on his fiancée Alice Faulkner's farm, but when Moriarty kills his prison guards and escapes, Holmes is immediately called back to London. There he is assigned to investigate the disappearance of Judge Erskine, who presided over Moriarty's case. Holmes finds Erskine's corpse hanging in a hidden closet in his office, but does not believe that the judge wrote the suicide note found on his desk. At a carnival, Moriarty meets with gangsters Homer Jones, Hans Dreiaugen, Manuel Lopez and Gaston Roux, at a wax museum. Later, Jones explains his plan to introduce an American-style protection racket in London. Moriarty, realizing the threat of both Holmes and Colonel Gore-King of the police to his racket, plans to have Holmes accidentally shoot the colonel. Later, when Holmes receives funeral flowers, he is led to expect an unfriendly visit from Jones, and sends his assistant, Dr. Watson, to keep Alice away from the danger. Moriarty's plan appears to succeed when Holmes mistakes Gore-King for Jones and shoots him, but, in the ambulance, the colonel reveals that he is not injured. Holmes, who was on to Moriarty's ruse, wants him to believe that his plan has succeeded. Alice, meanwhile, becomes disillusioned, and takes Holmes's young protege, Billy, to live with her. After Jones fails in his attempt to sell pub owner George protection, he fills the city with grenades and machine gun bullets to prove the necessity of buying protection. In order to avoid being noticed by Moriarty's men, Holmes disguises himself as an elderly woman. He then goes to Alice's father and tells him that Moriarty is tunneling into his bank. When Moriarty shows up at Faulkner's house and tells Faulkner that his daughter has been abducted, Holmes believes she must be in the tunnel, and leaves to rescue her. As the gang robs the bank's safety deposit boxes of gems, Holmes signals the police, and a shootout ensues. During the shootout, Moriarity attempts to flee, but as he prepares to use Alice and Billy as shields, he is shot by Holmes. With the criminals put out of commission, Holmes resumes his preparations to marry his fiancée, and Gore-King agrees to be his best man.
William K. Howard
William K. Howard
Herbert Van Dyke
John Van Wormer
The opening title card reads: "Fox Film presents Conan Doyle's Master Detective-Sherlock Holmes-Played by Clive Brook." Screen credits also note that William Gillette's play was acquired "with permission of the executors of the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle." Clive Brook first played Holmes in the first talking picture to feature the detective, Paramount's 1929 film The Return of Sherlock Holmes. In 1930, Brook again appeared in the role in a sketch entitled "Murder Will Out," which was a segment in the revue picture Paramount on Parade (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30). Although Hollywood Reporter production charts list Wyndham Standing in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
According to modern sources, Brook disliked this feature, believing that director William K. Howard denigrated the Conan Doyle characters, and added new scenes to the script as shooting progressed without consideration for the time it took the actors to learn the new lines. Modern sources also note that Herbert Mundin and Ivan Simpson were originally cast as Watson. William Gillette's play Sherlock Holmes was performed by Gillette on the Lux Radio Theater on November 18, 1935. Other films based specifically on Gillette's play include the 1916 Essanay film Sherlock Holmes, directed by Arthur Berthelet and starring William Gillette and Marjorie Kay (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20); the 1922 M-G-M film Shelock Holmes, directed by Albert Parker and starring John Barrymore and Roland Young (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30); and the 1939 Twentieth Century-Fox film The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Many other films and television programs have been based on the stories and characters created by Conan Doyle, but are not specifically based on Gillette's play. Among the other films featuring the character are the Twentieth Century-Fox series featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, which moved to Universal in the 1940s, and the British-made Thames Television series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jeremy Brett, that began in 1984 with a production of A Scandal in Bohemia and which will continue until all of the original Sherlock Holmes stories have been filmed. For additional information on other films from the 1930s featuring the character, consult the Series Index and for The Hound of the Baskervilles.