A Study in Scarlet (1933)

71-73 mins | Mystery | 14 May 1933

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HISTORY

The working title of the film was The Scarlet Ring . The opening credits read "E. W. Hammons presents Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet ." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel first appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual (1887). Modern sources indicate that actor and co-writer Reginald Owen, who had previously played Dr. Watson opposite Clive Brook in Fox's 1932 film Sherlock Holmes (see above), hoped to make a series featuring himself in the role of Holmes. Robert Florey provided a modern account of the making of this film: This was his third project at Tiffany, and he was scheduled to both write and direct. Producer Sam Bischoff (the "B" of K.B.S. Productions) purchased the motion picture rights to the title, but not the story, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, A Study in Scarlet , and Florey was to write a scenario to co-star Anna May Wong. Within a week, Florey co-wrote the screenplay with Reginald Owen, with whom he had collaborated on The Man Called Back in mid-1932 (see above). The Florey-Owen script contained no similarities to the novel, and they shared the $1,000 payment. Florey turned down the offer to direct in favor of a better offer from Warner Bros. Modern sources credit Val Burton with music. Doyle's novel was also the basis for an English feature and an American short both appearing in 1914, and was remade in 1968 in a fifty-minute BBC television production. For additional information on other Sherlock Holmes films, consult the Series Index and see the entries above for The Hound of the Baskervilles ... More Less

The working title of the film was The Scarlet Ring . The opening credits read "E. W. Hammons presents Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet ." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel first appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual (1887). Modern sources indicate that actor and co-writer Reginald Owen, who had previously played Dr. Watson opposite Clive Brook in Fox's 1932 film Sherlock Holmes (see above), hoped to make a series featuring himself in the role of Holmes. Robert Florey provided a modern account of the making of this film: This was his third project at Tiffany, and he was scheduled to both write and direct. Producer Sam Bischoff (the "B" of K.B.S. Productions) purchased the motion picture rights to the title, but not the story, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, A Study in Scarlet , and Florey was to write a scenario to co-star Anna May Wong. Within a week, Florey co-wrote the screenplay with Reginald Owen, with whom he had collaborated on The Man Called Back in mid-1932 (see above). The Florey-Owen script contained no similarities to the novel, and they shared the $1,000 payment. Florey turned down the offer to direct in favor of a better offer from Warner Bros. Modern sources credit Val Burton with music. Doyle's novel was also the basis for an English feature and an American short both appearing in 1914, and was remade in 1968 in a fifty-minute BBC television production. For additional information on other Sherlock Holmes films, consult the Series Index and see the entries above for The Hound of the Baskervilles and Sherlock Holmes . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
26 May 33
p. 6.
HF
4 Feb 33
p. 12.
HF
11 Feb 33
p. 12.
Motion Picture Daily
26 May 33
p. 9.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Jun 33
p. 40.
New York Times
1 Jun 33
p. 15.
New York Times
11 Jun 33
p. 3.
Time
12 Jun 33
p. 30.
Variety
6 Jun 33
p. 14.
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
The Scarlet Ring
Release Date:
14 May 1933
Production Date:
early February 1933 at California Tiffany Studio
Copyright Claimant:
K.B.S. Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 April 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3969
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
71-73
Length(in feet):
6,552
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In London, after the apparent suicide of James Murphy, a member of the mysterious Scarlet Ring organization led by lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew, the Ring meets in London's Limehouse district to disperse Murphy's property. Eileen Forrester joins the group to replace her father, after having deciphered a secret code published in the newspaper, although she is ignorant of the group's true purpose. When one of the members, Pyke, enters and falls dead from a gunshot wound, Eileen faints, and Pyke's body disappears. The next morning, Lastrade of Scotland Yard calls criminologist Sherlock Holmes in on the case after Dearing, another Ring member, is found dead and Pyke's body is found in the Thames. Holmes, who had had already been contacted by Murphy's widow, who was excluded from the Ring meeting, suspects that Murphy was also murdered. Pyke's Chinese wife identifies her husband's body by the ring he wore. At the next Ring meeting, Merrydew informs the remaining members, Jabez Wilson, William Baker and Eileen, that the group is being disbanded. When Eileen fails to appear after the meeting, her fiancé, John Stanford, and Holmes, rescue her from imprisonment in a gas-filled room. Another Ring member, Baker, later falls to his death from his guest room at the Pyke country estate known as the Grange, and this terrorizes Wilson, who feels his turn is next. Eileen is lured to the Grange by a telegram. When John reports her disappearance, Holmes, his assistant, Dr. Watson, and Lastrade secretly gather at the Grange where an unidentified stranger has arrived. The stranger enters the room in which Eileen is imprisoned, but Holmes and his party rescue Eileen and ... +


In London, after the apparent suicide of James Murphy, a member of the mysterious Scarlet Ring organization led by lawyer Thaddeus Merrydew, the Ring meets in London's Limehouse district to disperse Murphy's property. Eileen Forrester joins the group to replace her father, after having deciphered a secret code published in the newspaper, although she is ignorant of the group's true purpose. When one of the members, Pyke, enters and falls dead from a gunshot wound, Eileen faints, and Pyke's body disappears. The next morning, Lastrade of Scotland Yard calls criminologist Sherlock Holmes in on the case after Dearing, another Ring member, is found dead and Pyke's body is found in the Thames. Holmes, who had had already been contacted by Murphy's widow, who was excluded from the Ring meeting, suspects that Murphy was also murdered. Pyke's Chinese wife identifies her husband's body by the ring he wore. At the next Ring meeting, Merrydew informs the remaining members, Jabez Wilson, William Baker and Eileen, that the group is being disbanded. When Eileen fails to appear after the meeting, her fiancé, John Stanford, and Holmes, rescue her from imprisonment in a gas-filled room. Another Ring member, Baker, later falls to his death from his guest room at the Pyke country estate known as the Grange, and this terrorizes Wilson, who feels his turn is next. Eileen is lured to the Grange by a telegram. When John reports her disappearance, Holmes, his assistant, Dr. Watson, and Lastrade secretly gather at the Grange where an unidentified stranger has arrived. The stranger enters the room in which Eileen is imprisoned, but Holmes and his party rescue Eileen and save Wilson from being killed by Ah Yet, Pyke's mute servant. Holmes reveals the stranger to be Pyke, who faked his own death. Holmes suspected Pyke because he found his footprints around the home of Dearing, after his death. Merrydew and the Pykes are arrested and Holmes explains that the Scarlet Ring was formed to protect the priceless Mandarin jewels stolen from China years earlier, but Merrydew and the Pykes got greedy, and wanted the jewels for themselves. Eileen and John invite Holmes to their wedding. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.