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The Scarlet Claw

USA 1944
produced by
Roy William Neill for Universal
directed by Roy William Neill
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gerald Hamer, Paul Cavanagh, Arthur Hohl, Miles Mander, Kay Harding, David Clyde, Ian Wolfe, Victoria Horne
story by Paul Gangelin, Brenda Weisberg, screenplay by Edmund L. Hartmann, Roy William Neill, based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Paul Sawtell

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Universal's Sherlock Holmes

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Lady Pemrose has been killed, and her husband (Paul Cavanagh), a firm believer in the occult, is quick to blame the death on the monster of a local legend, which would prove all of his supernatural theories - but Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Pemrose's fiercest opponent in the Occult Society, who has been called for help by Lady Pemrose prior to her demise, soon comes up with other theories, based on the facts that the so-called monster leaves the exact same marks as a common garden weeder and that Lady Pemrose once was a well-known actress. Lord Pemrose naturally opposes all of Holmes's theories, and this way behaves much too guilty to actually be the murderer ...

When crossing the marshland, Holmes is even attacked by the monster, a weirdly glowing creature, but he manages to chase it away and even finds evidence the monster was only made to glow thanks to phosphor.

Eventually, Holmes's investigations lead him to judge Brisson (Miles Mander), and with the informations the judge gives him, Holmes determines the identity of the murderer, an actor turned killer turned escapee whom both Lady Pemrose and the judge had to deal with, and who apparently has made the region his new home - thing is, he is also a master of disguise, and thus nobody knows who he actually is ...

Eventually, the judge is killed, and now Holmes concentrates on a third man who had contact to the killer, Journet (Arthur Hohl), a former prison guard turned innkeeper - and to catch the killer, Holmes sends Journet out into the marshland all alone - where Jounet is soon accompanied by harmless postman Potts (Gerald Hamer) - who out of nowhere attacks Journet with a garden weeder. But then Journet turns out to be Holmes in disguise, and he and the police chase Potts through the marshes to his death.

Nigel Bruce repeats his role as Doctor Watson and is at his most moronic - and most annoying - this time around.


Blending a typical Sherlock Homes-mystery with a monster story might sound like a good idea in writing (and it has been done successfully in Hound of the Baskervilles), but this film just fails to deliver on its promise, first and foremost because Holmes is quite simply too clever for the whole supernatural set-up and thus is way too quick to expose all that is creepy (in the occult sense of the word) as man-made pretty much on the spot. Now this plot would possibly have worked beautifully if it seemed even for a few minutes that Holmes is in it over his head and would actually have been forced to challenge his own reason, but that's quite simply never the case here, and thus the film is nothing more than another routine mystery with the typical overcomplex story setup, the wild deductions and the killer-out-of-a-hat firmly in place - and it'S not even one of the better Holmes-movies.

By the way, for some weird reason, this film claims to be set in Canada, even though everything in the plot safe for some French language names, suggests nothing but the British countryside. Oh well ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD