The Voiceless Detective – "Sherlock Holmes
And
The Deadly Necklace"



This movie could have been great. But "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" is only mediocre at best. Bad decisions and blunders during the production are to blame for that.

Background

Produced in 1962, this movie was the first German Sherlock Holmes movie in 25 years. The one before that had been the comedy "The Man who was Sherlock Holmes" from 1937.

After the end of the Second World War, people in Germany preferred light entertainment. Many sentimental films with regional background were produced.

This changed with the movie version of the Edgar Wallace novel "The Fellowship of the Frog" in 1959. It was hugely successful and the start of a boom period for German crime films. All in all there would be 32 Edgar Wallace movies.

Because there were problems with the copyrights of the Wallace stories, the producer Artur Brauner looked for other material.
First he resurrected Dr. Mabuse, the hypnotic doctor from the novel by Norbert Jacques.

Eventually his way led him to the most famous detective of all, Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's heirs gave their permission for a script with elements from the novel "The Valley of Fear", especially Professor Moriarty.

Brauner wanted "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" to become an international success, so he decided on an international production.

The writer Curt Siodmak delivered the script. He previously had written some of the Tarzan movies as well as Universal horror movies like "The Return of the Invisible Man" or "The Wolf Man".

The British director Terence Fisher who already was responsible for the 1959 version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was hired as well.

Christopher Lee was promoted from client (he had played Sir Henry Baskerville in Hammer Films' 1959 version of the Hound) to the role of the detective himself.

Thorley Walters played his friend and colleague Dr Watson.

Some German actors also played important parts:

Hans Söhnker gave an incredible performance as Professor Moriarty. Senta Berger and Ivan Desny also played roles. Leon Askin (best known as General Burghalter from "Hogan's Heroes") plays a villain in the employ of Moriarty.

All in all, this starting point looked quite promising. The story also had an interesting plot. Moriarty wants to steal the necklace of Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Of course, Holmes thwarts his plans.

The Actors

It took producers a long time to discover Christopher Lee as the perfect actor to play Sherlock Holmes. He started as Frankenstein's Monster and then as a lascivious Count Dracula in the now classic Hammer Films in the late 1950's.

In 1959, he played Sir Henry Baskerville in Hammer's production of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" opposite his friend Peter Cushing as Holmes.

He was finally promoted to Sherlock Holmes in the "Deadly Necklace".

His tall, lean figure and his aristocratic bearing made him a fantastic choice.

Lee played Holmes as a rather cold and callous character. Perhaps he is a little patronizing, but all in good measure.

Veteran British actor Thorley Walters as Watson reminds me a bit of Nigel Bruce. But only in outer appearance I am happy to say. His good-natured doctor is a perfect addition to Lee's rather caustic Holmes.

Hans Söhnker gives an admirable performance as Holmes's archenemy, Professor Moriarty. The German actor plays out the role of the villain in all its glory.

The Blunders

So far, so good. But the producer and the director bumbled their way along. For whatever reason, Fisher demanded of Lee to wear an artificial nose prosthetics.

There was a mix of styles where Victorian costumes met Edwardian cars as well as music from the Swingin' 60's. This is irritating, but can be overlooked.

In my mind worst of all was this:

The sound was useless. But instead of bringing back the original actors in order to redub their parts, the producer decided to use different actors.

To add insult to injury, now Christopher Lee has an American voice with a clear slang. The other actors weren't lucky either. No wonder that none of the German actors have, well, German accents.

Christopher Lee has such a distinctive and wonderful voice. It's a shame they took it away.

Conclusions

When watching the movie, try to ignore the wrong voices. Try to ignore all the blunders mentioned above. The movie is a good effort on part of the script and the actors. It could have been so much better, if only the director and the producer would have shown more foresight.

So far, "Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace" has been the last movie from Germany for cinema featuring the detective. Maybe that's a good thing.

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