blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Speckled Band (1931, Jack Raymond)

Lyn Harding and Raymond Massey star in THE SPECKLED BAND, directed by Jack Raymond for Woolf & Freedman Film Service.

I think The Speckled Band is a period piece but maybe not. There aren’t any exterior establishing shots in London, so no automobiles. It’s a question because the Sherlock Holmes in this film isn’t some recluse… he’s got an office and three secretaries.

The film has a very episodic feel to it, but not in the traditional sense–it feels like an entry in a film series, but it’s Raymond Massey’s only Holmes appearance. Massey does a fantastic job, infusing the character with an affable, melancholy feel. His Holmes feels the outcast due to his intellect–not the traditional approach to the character.

But since the film concentrates on the mystery, top-billed Lyn Harding and Angela Baddeley have the most to do. Baddeley is the victim to be and Harding is her vile stepfather, who’s probably going to kill her. I’m not sure a more revolting villain than Harding in this film–he doesn’t have a single moment he’s not plotting something rather nasty.

Director Raymond has some nice compositions and he keeps a great tone to the film. I was never sure if Baddeley, high billing or not, was going to live through the film.

Freddie Young’s cinematography is nice, particularly the outdoor scenes. They made me wish the sequences were longer, as Raymond and Young knew how to make the countryside lush with foreboding.

Athole Stewart makes a good Watson (the film even introduces him before Massey).

Besides Baddeley’s tepid love interest (Ivan Brandt), it’s rather solid.



Directed by Jack Raymond; screenplay by W.P. Lipscomb, based on a story by Arthur Conan Doyle; director of photography, Freddie Young; edited by Maclean Rogers; produced by Herbert Wilcox; released by Woolf & Freedman Film Service.

Starring Lyn Harding (Dr. Grimesby Rylott), Raymond Massey (Sherlock Holmes), Angela Baddeley (Helen Stonor), Nancy Price (Mrs. Staunton), Athole Stewart (Dr. John Watson), Marie Ault (Mrs. Hudson), Franklyn Bellamy (Alaine), Ivan Brandt (Curtis) and Stanley Lathbury (Rodgers).


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