The Speckled Band (1931 film)
|The Speckled Band|
|Directed by||Jack Raymond|
|Produced by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Written by||Arthur Conan Doyle (story)
W. P. Lipscomb (adaptation)
|Edited by||Maclean Rogers|
|Distributed by||Woolf & Freedman Film Service|
|5 March 1931|
66 minutes (USA)
49 minutes (Canada)
The Speckled Band is a 1931 British film directed by Jack Raymond and an adaption of Arthur Conan Doyle's story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", which features Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson investigating the fears of a young woman and the suspicious death of her sister.
The film begins on the Rylott estate with gypsies camping on the grounds. Inside the mansion, Violet Stonor screams in her bedroom and then collapses in the hallway. She is discovered by her sister Helen (Angela Baddeley). Violet's dying words are "the band, speckled." She then dies and their stepfather Dr. Grimesby Rylott (Lyn Harding) arrives.
Soon there is an inquest into the mysterious death, and Rylott plots with the housekeeper and his Indian servant Ali. Watson attends the inquest as an old friend of the Stonor family in India. He acts protectively to Helen and advises her to consult Holmes if she ever feels in danger. At Baker Street later, Watson summarises the inquest to Holmes, describing the various witnesses and evidence. Holmes files it away in his system — he operates a strangely modern office with female secretaries and a voice recording device.
One year later, Helen Stoner is engaged, and her fiance must leave for a plantation in Rangoon for a year. Helen is afraid and suggests that they marry sooner, so that she may go with him to Rangoon. Dr. Rylott is upset by these plans, and decides to murder her to prevent the loss of her inheritance. Rylott forces Helen to move from her room into Violet's old room. The next day, Helen meets with Holmes and Watson in Baker Street and describes her case. Her sister Violet had been engaged to be married before she died, and Helen remembers hearing mysterious music that night. Now Helen is engaged and is also hearing the mysterious music again. Holmes questions her and sends her out of the room through a separate entrance, when her stepfather arrives. Dr. Rylott barges in and threatens Holmes, but he is not deterred.
In the afternoon, Dr. Watson arrives alone to visit Helen Stonor while her stepfather is not home. Holmes is in disguise as a workman dealing with the repairs to the building. Together they investigate Dr. Rylott's room and discover several clues, such as a bowl of milk, a dog whip, and a mirror. Next, they investigate Violet's room, which has a bell-rope that doesn't ring, and a ventilator near the bed. The ventilator opens into Rylott's room but is hidden by a painting. When Rylott returns, Holmes and Watson temporarily leave Helen at the house, but will sneak into the room later to investigate.
That night, Helen spends the night within Violet's room, while Holmes and Watson secretly keep watch with her. After snake charming music plays, a snake enters the room through the ventilator, and Holmes attacks it, sending it back to Rylott's room. Rylott screams. Holmes, Watson, and Helen enter his room and discover Rylott dead from a snake bite. Holmes forces Ali the servant to charm the snake so they can put it in the safe. Violet's last words about a "speckled band" were in fact describing "a swamp adder, the deadliest snake in India". The venomous snake had been sent to Violet's room by Dr. Rylott to murder her for her inheritance. Rylott intended to do the same to Helen.
The movie ends with Holmes conducting an experiment in Baker Street. Watson arrives dressed for a wedding, and Holmes concludes that he is going to a wedding. Watson is pleased to tell Holmes that he is wrong. Watson has just come from the wedding of Helen Stoner and her groom. Holmes offers his "condolences" rather than congratulations. Watson says in amusement that "we all come to it," meaning marriage. After Watson leaves, Holmes disagrees quietly, "Not all, my dear Watson... not all."
Differences from short story
In the original story, a few names are different; for instance, Violet was Julia in the story; Stonor was spelled Stoner, and Rylott was Roylott. This movie blends the original short story with Arthur Conan Doyle's later play adaptation The Stonor Case, which added characters like Mrs. Staunton the housekeeper, Rodgers the butler, and the Indian servant Ali who plays snake charming music. Holmes investigates the case dressed as a workman doing the building repairs, whereas in the story he and Watson claimed to be architects working on the building.
- Lyn Harding as Dr. Grimesby Rylott
- Raymond Massey as Sherlock Holmes
- Angela Baddeley as Helen Stonor
- Nancy Price as Mrs. Staunton
- Athole Stewart as Dr. John Watson
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- The Speckled Band at the Internet Movie Database
- The Speckled Band is available for free download at the Internet Archive