Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour (The Sleeping Cardinal) (1931)

This rare Sherlock Holmes film was released at the same time as the Raymond Massey picture "The Speckled Band". The story is partly based on two Conan Doyle short stories: "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House".

Sceptical about the potential success of the film, the producers sold the rights to the film to "First Division Pictures" for 800 pounds. The film was released in July 1931 under the title "Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour". It was very successful, running for over a month on Broadway, which was unprecidented for a British produced programmer. 

Reviews hailed the film for "bringing the real Sherlock Holmes to the screen." This prompted 4 more movies in the series The Missing Rembrandt (still considered lost), The Sign of Four,The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes and The Silver Blaze/Murder at the Baskervilles. 

This film was deemed lost when the only known print (a 16 mm reduction print of the US version) went missing after being shown at a Sherlock Holmes Society reception for Arthur Wontner in 1955. This version comes from a second generation copy with the titles replaced due to focus/framing issues.

PLEASE NOTE: The film is public domain. The above descriptive text is not. Please ask permission before reusing this text in any way.

This item was public domain in the US due to the ommission of a copyright notice and failure to fulfill other copyright formalities. The item remains in the US public domain due to it's public domain status under UK law at the relevant date of GATT/URAA (1 January 1996) rendering it ineligible for restoration of copyright. Transitional terms of UK Copyright legislation stipulate that the copyright in "published films and films falling within section 13(3)(a) of the 1956 Act (films registered under former enactments relating to registration of films)....subsist(s) until the date on which it would have expired under the 1956 Act". The copyright term under the 1956 Act was 50 years from the end of the year of release or registration. This film was released in the UK in 1933. Under the 1956 act the film entered the UK public domain on 1 January 1984 and was not restored by either the implemention of the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act or the 1995 extension/variations to the copyright terms of that act.

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