blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Devil’s Foot (1921, Maurice Elvey)

A scene from THE DEVIL'S FOOT, directed by Maurice Elvey for Stoll Picture Productions.

To call The Devil’s Foot inept is too complementary. Some of the stupider story elements come from the Conan Doyle story, so one cannot really fault screenwriter William J. Elliott. Instead, the fault lies entirely with director Maurice Elvey.

The short does show how important sound is to a procedural investigation narrative, but Elvey’s incompetence comes to the close-ups. Sherlock Holmes, reasonably well-played by Eille Norwood here, walks around the sets and looks at various objects around the rooms. But Elvey includes to close-ups of the items, so the clues are entirely hidden from the viewer. It sort of kills the interest level.

Also interesting is the lack of British flavor. Foot often looks like it was shot in Los Angeles, on very boring locations.

It does start reasonably well, until the actual investigation starts. Then it’s a continuous stream of disappointments.

Better source material might’ve helped.

1/3Not Recommended


Produced and directed by Maurice Elvey; screenplay by William J. Elliott, based on a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle; director of photography, Germain Burger; released by Stoll Picture Productions.

Starring Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), Hubert Willis (Dr. John Watson), Harvey Braban (Mortimer Tregennis) and Hugh Buckler (Dr. Sterndale).


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