25 April 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
The fatal hour comes on apace
Am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and get a lot of enjoyment out of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Also love Basil Rathbone's and especially Jeremy Brett's interpretations to death. So would naturally see any Sherlock Holmes adaptation that comes my way, regardless of its reception.
Furthermore, interest in seeing early films based on Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and wanting to see as many adaptations of any Sherlock Holmes stories as possible sparked my interest in seeing 'The Sleeping Cardinal', part of (and the first?) of the series of film with Arthur Wontner. Would also see anything that has Holmes encountering his arch-nemesis Professor Moriaty.
'The Sleeping Cardinal' turned out to be very much worthwhile. Not one of the best Sherlock Holmes adaptations certainly, the best of the Jeremy Brett adaptations and films of Basil Rathone fit under this category. It's also not among the worst, being much better than any of the Matt Frewer films (particularly 'The Sign of Four') and the abominable Peter Cook 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.
It's not perfect. The sound quality is less great, while some of the pace could have been tighter and some of the dialogue unnecessarily rambles a bit.
However, there are some starkly beautiful images on display and the period detail is handsome and evocative. The writing generally is thought-provoking, Holmes' deductions and crime solving are a huge part of the fun, the mystery and suspense is generally intact (the chemistry between Holmes and Moriaty thankfully do not underwhelm) and the story is intriguing and not hard to follow.
Arthur Wontner may technically have been too old for Holmes but he did not look too old and his portrayal is on the money, handling the personality and mannerisms of the character spot on without over-doing or under-playing. Ian Fleming is a charming, loyal, intelligent and amusing Watson, with nice chemistry between him and Wontner, really liked his failed attempts at deduction. Lestrade is not too much of an idiot thankfully. The support is solid, though only Norman McKinnell's creepy Moriaty and refreshingly sassy Minnie Raynor are truly memorable.
Overall, worthwhile. 7/10 Bethany Cox