Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (aka The Valley of Fear) (1962, Terence Fisher)

 Dubbing? Rudimentary, dear Watson!
There are several criminal aspects to this sub-krimi German co-production, first among them being the fact that the filmmakers neglected to get Christopher Lee and Thorley Walters in to loop their own dialogue. It's somewhat jarring to watch an actor with so readily identifiable a voice as Mr Lee speaking, yet the words come out of his mouth spoken by what sounds like a Transatlantic drawl. Or an American dubbing artiste doing a poor Lee imitation.
If one can get past this surreal experience however there is fun to be had. Lee and Walters are ideally cast as Holmes and Watson, at times certain shots looked like Sidney Paget illustrations come to life. Hans Sohnker does a creditable job projecting a sinister air as Moriarty, despite the handicap of dubbing even more atrocious than that of the English-speaking cast. He's no Eric Porter or even George Zucco, but better than some lesser efforts. The direction, however, co-credited to the masterly Terence Fisher of many a Hammer classic fame, is somewhat workmanlike. Perhaps Fisher's heart wasn'tin it, or he was held back by his Teutonic cohort, but it's not in the same league as his and Lee's earlier essaying of "The Hound of the Baskervilles".
 The supporting cast are more than adequate, with the lovely Senta Berger in an early role adding some class and beauty to a female cast of East End slatterns played by burly hausfraus. It really is a shame though that Lee's icily incisive portrayal of the great detective, perfect for the role in every way, was only seen in this film and a couple of early '90s productions. Still, there's always the consolation of being the only actor (so far as i know) to have played both Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, as well as Sir Henry Baskerville. That's got to count for something.
By the way, i saw this under the title "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" (somewhat reminiscent of the Basil Rathbone series, the middling entries of which it is on a par). The alternate title of "The Valley of Fear" is somewhat misleading, as apart from characters such as Holmes, Watson and Professor Moriarty this film has very little in common with the Conan Doyle novel of the same name. However, for a Holmes fan wanting a diverting hour and a half on a rainy afternoon, this more than does the trick.


  1. Sorry I missed this review before Glen, your fault for being so prolific :P

    How strange they had their voices redubbed, was any reason why given? Looks like a good film nonetheless.

  2. A Comment! At long last... (Crumbles into dust).:p

    I assume that since it was a co-production with Germany, with a lot of German actors in the supporting cast, they just shot it 'wild' without any sound (like a lot of Hong Kong pics) and looped everyone later. It's a bit mad, though, when pretty mucheveryone's giving their dialogue in English.

    It's a very decent film - at least as good as the Basil Rathbone Holmes movies.

  3. I like the fact that 'neck' in German is kind of the same as it is in the Middle Englishes that I've read. Which reminds me that there used to be lots of different Englishes, so I don't know what Michael Gove's getting so worked up about. However, I guess it doesn't really matter what he thinks.

    Is 'Thorley' a real name? Reminds me of Thorlac Turville-Petre, who edited a book of Middle English alliterative verse. I used to have a copy of it but I don't any more.

    What was deadly about the necklace? Watson is proudly holding it aloft like it's a prize he's just won in the village fête's tombola. I prefer him to Martin Freeman because Freeman was on TV doing an advert for the Labour party. He was pretending to be all normal and blokeish, just one of us proles, but you could tell it was ultra-fake because (a) he's an actor who's been acting 'that awkward guy from the office' for all of his career, and (b) where his career is now, he's super-rich and he's been to award ceremonies and stuff.

    I'll probably still watch the next series of Sherlock, though.

  4. I was going to type a lot of stuff about Teutonic languages, but decided that it's too early in the morning, but yes. And no, Gove matters not. At all. Ever. The evil vent's doll from 'Magic' that he is.

    The 'deadly' element of the necklace is all the people willing to kill for it (it's meant to be a Cleopatran relic), rather than it possessing deadly properties in and of itself. That's not Watson holding it, though, that's the auctioneer. Thorley (it IS a good name, isn't it?) Walters as Watson is in the two pics above that one. Maybe all these men with moustaches, like corridors, look the same.

    I gave up on Sherlock a while back, as it's just not my cup of Conan Doyle, so Bilbo's political shenanigans don't trouble my waking consciousness. I quite liked him as Arthur Dent, though.

  5. I am racist against men with moustaches — they do, indeed, all look the same to me. My confusion was fuelled by the fact that Holmes, standing next to the auctioneer, is wearing the pitying, supercilious expression he generally adopts in the presence of Watson.

    If what you like in your Arthur Conan Doyle is London pea-soupers, horse-drawn transportation and meerschaum pipes, Sherlock isn't really going to float your boat. I like it for what it is, but it's not very Victorian.

    The name Thorley is overdue a renaissance.