The Scarlet Claw (1944)

the scarlet claw 1944

Sixth entry in the Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce series. It’s not based on any of Doyle’s stories but it is a good one. A supernatural being from a hundred years ago may have returned to a small Canadian village. Sheep have been found with their throats cut and that’s just the beginning.

A glowing apparition has been spotted in the marshes and the superstitious villagers thinks an old monster may be back. The church bell won’t stop ringing. The Reverend discovers the body of Lady Penrose clutching the bell rope. Her throat has been slashed.

In Quebec her husband is addressing the Royal Canadian Occult Society. While he’s arguing with Holmes about the supernatural he gets a message that his wife was dead. He quickly leaves for the village of La Morte Rouge. The next day Holmes and Watson are about to leave. Then he gets a letter at the hotel desk that was sent to him by Lady Penrose. The return to London is cancelled and Holmes and Watson head for the village. Holmes remarks that it’s the first time they’ve been retained by a corpse.

They register at the village hotel. It’s obvious the girl behind the desk is upset. She says it’s because her father is leaving. He’s hotel owner Emile Journet who denies he’s going anywhere. He’s really angry at daughter Marie and even slaps her. Watson voices his objection.

Holmes and Watson go to the Penrose  house. The door is open and they walk in. Penrose tells them to leave. He’s distracted by a constantly ringing phone. That gives them a chance to look at Lady Penrose’s body. Drake the butler (Ian Wolfe) comes in and says he’s given his notice. Penrose walks in and once again tells Holmes and Watson to get out.

Holmes tells Watson to circulate at the hotels’ cafe. He says he wants to get some rest. Emile goes to Holmes’ room. He’s gone. He went to see  Police Sgt Thompson. He spots a five clawed garden weeder that looks interesting. Holmes then goes to the marshes to walk around and investigate. Then he spots a bright apparition and takes a few shots at it.

Watson upon hearing where his friend went goes to the marshes and falls into a bog. Holmes has to pull him out. He says he was pushed into it by something spewing fire. Holmes finds a piece of a shirt torn by a branch. It glows in the dark. It’s obviously been treated with phosphorescent paint.

He finds out from a shop owner that it’s from a type of shirt that he orders especially for Judge Brisson. He came to the village a couple years ago and is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. He lives with his housekeeper Nora and a viscious dog. Holmes and Watson go to his house and are met with a hostile reception.

Brisson points a rifle at Holmes and tells him to get out. While leaving Holmes drops an envelope. It was just a trick to get Brisson to leave his wheelchair. Holmes finds out what he’s afraid of. He gets a valuable clue.

There’s a lot of movie left and I don’t ant to spoil anything. Even though the solution is tipped off early it’s still an enjoyable movie. It’s not the best in the Rathbone-Bruce series but well worth seeing.

About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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