SHERLOCK HOLMES' FATAL HOUR
(aka "The Sleeping Cardinal")

(1931)
With Arthur Wontner, Ian Fleming, Minnie Rayner, Leslie Perrins, Norman McKinnel
Directed by Leslie S. Hiscott
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     In his time, actor Arthur Wontner was considered by many to be the finest screen Holmes ever.  Truth is, he's not bad at all, even all these decades later, and is certainly better than the movie around him.  He looks like he leapt from the pages of The Strand onto the screen, and although he's not an active Holmes, he still manages to outthink and outwit everybody around him.  

    Alas, SHERLOCK HOLMES' FATAL HOUR is pretty much what you might expect for a low-budget 1931 film: stage bound action, no background music, a plodding pace and plenty of slowly-recited dialog.  A mish-mosh of elements from two of the most famous stories "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House", FATAL HOUR has Holmes on the trail of (wait for it) Professor Moriarty, who is behind a counterfeiting and bank-robbing scheme.  There are some nice shadowy moments here and there, but the pace is too slow and the acting too stilted for the film to be much more than a curiosity today.  Wontner would appear as Holmes in four more films, one of which, THE MISSING REMBRANDT, is considered lost.2½ - JB 

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