THE SPECKLED BAND. British & Dominions Film Corporation, UK, 1931. Lyn Harding, Raymond Massey (Sherlock Holmes), Angela Baddeley, Nancy Price, Athole Stewart (Dr. John Watson), Marie Ault (Mrs. Hudson). Based on the story “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Director: Jack Raymond.

   This was Raymond Massey’s first credited screen role, and as Sherlock Holmes, he looks and acts just like Raymond Massey. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, and in many ways he’s the best actor in the film, but as chance would have it, he never played the role again.

   Hopefully someday someone will somewhere find a complete version of this film, one that can be remastered so that it’s actually watchable. The one in general circulation is in really shoddy shape and has been cut down from what was originally may have been a 90 minute movie to one that runs less than 50. (The 90 minute figure may be incorrect, but there are many obvious jumps in the story line.)

   I don’t remember a band of gypsies camping outside the manor house in the original story where all of the action takes place, but I may be wrong about that, and I think the Indian servant is new also. The extra characters do flesh out the story some, and even more importantly, they add a few more possible suspects as to committed the mysterious murder of a young girl alone in her locked bedroom.

   What I know was not in Doyle’s tale was a front office to his lodgings in Baker Street filled with what appears to be primitive computers to which a staff of young ladies are shown busily typing in data about all sorts of crimes that have been committed in England over the years.

   Not only that, but Holmes is proud to show off a device capable of recording voices, which in the film itself was way before its time, as the primary mode of transportation are horse-drawn carriages. It is also a mystery why the device was shown only once but never to be been seen again.

   Unfortunately my knowing the solution to the crime ahead of time — as I assume most of you do, too — makes it difficult to say how effective the overall impact of the film is. It’s an interesting artifact, that’s for certain, and I’m glad I watched it, but more than that, I cannot say.