Short and Talkative Sherlock Holmes – reviewed by George

Alan Napier as Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (1949)
This is an episode of “Your Show Time”, an anthology TV program which featured adaptations of literary properties: Masterworks of Famous Authors. The host was Arthur Shields as The Bookshop Man, who smoked like a chimney throughout his segments (except for his first introductory appearance, where he waited to light up until he was nearly finished), because the sponsor was Lucky Strike. Slogan used on the show: “Smoke a Lucky to feel your level best.”
We’ve encountered this story before: Raymond Massey in “The Speckled Band” (1931). This is the better version of the two. The sets are terrific, and Napier is a very good Holmes. And the transfer is clean, bright black-and-white – so good it almost looks like high def.
Holmes is contacted by Miss Helen Stoner (Evelyn Ankers), and he and Watson (Melville Cooper) listen to her story. Two years ago her sister Jean (Gail Roberts) was engaged to a Mr. John Armitage (Richard Fraser). Her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roycott (Edgar Barrier), whose wealth of a thousand pounds a year comes from Helen’s and Jean’s mother’s will, did not approve, chiefly Helen thinks because her mother’s will provides large chunks of that thousand pounds for each girl on the occasion of her marriage. One night during the time when the sisters were planning Jean’s wedding, Helen heard Jean scream. She rushed to her room and Jean gasped out, “The speckled band”, and died. Now Helen is engaged to that very same Mr. Armitage, and her stepfather has moved her into her dead sister’s room, which is next to his.
Holmes investigates, and justice is done.
Written by Walter Doniger and Directed by Sobey Martin.
Incidentally, on imdb.com it says that “Your Show Time” was the first American TV dramatic series to be shot on film, and the first series to win an Emmy.

John Longden as Sherlock Holmes in “The Man Who Disappeared” (1951)
This TV program was made as a pilot, but did not sell. Another remake, this time the tale of Neville St. Clair, “The Man with the Twisted Lip”, is quite different. Here he is being blackmailed over a crime he did not commit, rather than hiding from his family and acquaintances his unorthodox profession. This is not as good as the Eille Norwood version, though Longden is a perfectly adequate Holmes. The problem is that physically he looks more like a football lineman. He and Watson (Campbell Singer) take the case on behalf of Mrs. St. Clair (Ninka Dolega), who swears she has seen her husband (Hector Ross) alive, since his disappearance and supposed death.

Professor Lightskull and Doc Twiddle in “Inside India” (1951)
This is a live-action short film shot at a nature preserve and featuring two chimpanzees, who are certainly patterned after Holmes and Watson, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that they are playing Holmes and Watson, especially since they have their own wonderful names.
Written by Larry Clemmons and George Giroux, and Directed by Jerry Courneya, the chimps make a trip to India to solve the theft of a ruby.
This is very silly stuff, but it is very funny as well, and I defy you not to laugh. The chimps are in costume, but the great thing is that their mouths almost never stop moving, so that the voice talent can hardly take a breath. The voices are provided by cartoon-voice greats Daws Butler (Twiddle) and Paul Frees (Lightskull). If other voices are needed, they provide those too, and all the voices sound like regular voice work they did, but with a slight change so as not to break copyright (and not to lose their other jobs).

Professor Lightskull and Doc Twiddle in “A Case of Hypnosis” (1952)
Lightskull plays the violin, but holds it like a cello, and Twiddle complains loudly since, not only is the sound terrible, but also it blocks out any chance for Twiddle to hear his radio show. Fortunately for Twiddle’s sanity, the police chief calls for help: people (read “animals”) are disappearing. Turns out they are being hypnotized by a magician into thinking they are animals other than chimps – and POOF! they are.
Even sillier (and even funnier) then the India trip.
Written by Larry Clemmons and Directed by Jerry Courneya, and using the voice talents of Daws Butler and Paul Frees.

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