The Dying Detective (1921, Maurice Elvey)

A scene from THE DYING DETECTIVE, directed by Maurice Elvey for Stoll Picture Productions.

Given the terrible attempts at humor and Eille Norwood’s histrionic performance as Sherlock Holmes, one might think The Dying Detective is a farcical adaptation.

Unfortunately, I doubt director Elvey gets farce as he doesn’t get pacing or filmic storytelling. Almost every shot in Detective goes on too long. He’s not just holding the shot until interest wanes, he’s holding it five or ten seconds are interest has completely vanished. He does it with establishing shots too; Elvey’s composition is so confusing, one can easily forget what he or she is waiting to see.

Screenwriter William J. Elliot feels the need to include a painfully long sequence of red herrings at the end, with Holmes and the villain trying to upstage each other. It probably drags Detective out another five minutes, like there was a length requirement.

Cecil Humphreys gives the only good performance as the villain. Otherwise, Detective‘s the pits.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Maurice Elvey; screenplay by William J. Elliot, based on a 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), Cecil Humphreys (Culverton Smith), Joseph R. Tozer (His Servant) and Mme. d’Esterre (Mrs. Hudson).


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