“According to your theory, Dr. Watson, everyone in the village is under suspicion!”
When Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) receive a letter requesting assistance from a recently murdered woman, they travel to her hometown, where the villagers are convinced her death was caused by a legendary monster.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Basil Rathbone Films
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Horror Films
- Murder Mystery
- Sherlock Holmes Films
This eighth entry in the fourteen-film series of Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Holmes flicks (most made for Universal Studios) is generally considered to be the best of the bunch, and it does indeed pack plenty of atmospheric punch. Only the first two films in the series were set in Doyle’s original Victorian-era London; this and others were updated to the 1940s. With that said, the setting and overall ambiance of The Scarlet Claw — which takes place in Quebecois-Canada — come across as rather timeless; meanwhile, the film itself is reminiscent of The Hound of the Baskervilles in its presentation of a mysterious fiend bounding across mist-shrouded moors. What’s most interesting about The Scarlet Claw (based on an original story) is its decidedly horror-tinged flavor, with one murder scene in particular wonderfully predating Psycho (1960). Watch for some truly startling special effects by John P. Fulton, known for his excellent work on The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Ten Commandments (1957), and Vertigo (1958), among other titles.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Some genuinely creepy, horror-infused moments
- Atmospheric cinematography and sets
- John P. Fulton’s special effects
No, though it’s certainly recommended. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.