‘The Pearl of Death’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Six Napoleon Busts, the Borgia Pearl and the Creeper with Basil’s Sherlock and Nigel’s Dr. Watson

‘The Pearl of Death’ happens to be the ninth film of the fourteen film series of ‘Sherlock Holmes’, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Once again, I feel the films get better as I’m watching them.

This film happens to be based on the short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called ‘The Adventure of the Six Napoleons’. There are also additions featured in the film that aren’t in the original short tale.

This includes Evelyn Ankers (who was in ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror’) as Naomi Drake who happens to be an accomplice of the film’s villain. There’s also Rondo Hatton who plays a brutal killer called the Creeper, which we will talk about later.

The story focuses on the priceless Borgia pearl which gets stolen from a London museum. Sherlock Holmes steps in to recover the pearl with Watson’s help. Can they avoid their backs getting broken?

Just to talk about the Creeper, he happens to be a sinister, back-breaking henchman. Watching the Creeper put me in mind of Frankenstein a bit. This almost became a Universal Studios horror film. 😀

In fact, Universal hoped to capitalise on Rondo Hatton’s portrayal as the Hoxton Creeper. Rondon Hatton was cast in two more films as the Creeper, including ‘House of Horrors’ and ‘The Brute Man’.

Those films of course aren’t related to the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film series. I know these ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films are moving into more horror territory, but somehow I find them rather easy to follow.

Even the ‘Sherlock’ series with Benedict Cumberbatch had a character that was a direct reference to the Creeper called ‘The Golem’. He appeared in the third episode of Series 1 of the ‘Sherlock’ series.

Just to talk about ‘Sherlock’ a bit, when I state that Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock does disguises compared to Benedict Cumberbatch, that doesn’t mean Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t do them. 😐

On the contrary, he did disguises in a few episodes I’ve seen. But I feel Basil Rathbone’s disguises as Sherlock in his films are better, especially when he puts time and effort into making those disguises.

Miles Mander stars as Giles Conover, the film’s main villain. I believe his motive is in wanting the Borgia pearl, but he has his henchman, the Creeper, go to great lengths to kill people in the process.

The people that get killed are ones that own a bust of Napoleon. There are six busts of Napoleon in the film and Conover is trying to get his hands on the Borgia pearl that may be in one of those busts.

Evelyn Ankers’ character of Naomi Drake is a young woman who utilises disguises to do Giles Conover’s bidding. This includes having to work in a tavern (I believe) and a pearl shop at the end. 😀

Basil Rathbone continues to be excellent as Sherlock Holmes. I like how, as well as being a thorough investigator, Sherlock Holmes can often be very charming and polite to people when he needs to be.

Nigel Bruce is equally good as Dr. Watson in the film. I often enjoy his bumbling nature and Nigel Bruce has his character mutter to himself at times, even when he gets annoyed by Holmes’ antics. 😀

Dennis Hoey returns as Inspector Lestrade in the film. I like how Lestrade continues to be a thorn in Holmes and Watson’s investigations. He still works with them, but he can become sceptical at times.

The film also features Ian Wolfe as Amos Hodder, an art dealer. Ian Wolfe previously appeared in ‘Sherlock Holmes in Washington’ and ‘The Scarlet Claw’. He would later appear in ‘Dressed to Kill’. 🙂

There’s also Charles Francis as Digby, Holmes Herbert as James Goodram, Richard Nugent as Bates and Mary Gordon as Mrs. Hudson. These films continue to feature very good cast members in them.

The film does feature a tense climax, especially when Holmes is disguised in white overalls and he confronts Conover and the Creeper. Holmes does convince the Creeper that Conover will betray him.

I like how these ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films end with a certain message given by Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock. This is especially when Holmes talks of the pearl now having the blood of five more victims.

‘The Pearl of Death’ is another good instalment in the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film series. I can see why these films would have been popular back then and they do have a certain classic appeal to them. 🙂

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Restoring Sherlock Holmes’ featurette, production notes by Richard Valley, a photo gallery and an original theatrical trailer.

‘The Pearl of Death’ rating – 8/10

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