SILVER BLAZE (1937) was the last film in which English actor Arthur Wontner portrayed Sherlock Holmes. It is included in The Film Detective's THE SHERLOCK HOLMES VAULT COLLECTION Blu-ray set.
Holmes and Watson (Ian "Not that one" Fleming) are invited to pay a visit to old friend Sir Henry Baskerville in Dartmoor. While there, the great detective becomes involved in a case dealing with murder and a missing race horse named Silver Blaze. Holmes deduces that the man behind it all is his nemesis Prof. Moriarty (Lyn Harding).
SILVER BLAZE was based on one of Conan Doyle's best Sherlock Holmes stories, and characters such as Henry Baskerville and Moriarty were injected into it to bring the tale to feature length. I personally found this to be the best of the Arthur Wontner/Holmes films made by Twickenham Studios that I have seen. It moves along at a nice pace, it has a fair amount of action, and it gives Wontner as Holmes much more to do. Wontner himself is a bit more energetic in this one, even though he was already 60 when he made it. Holmes fans will appreciate seeing Wontner striding about wearing an overcoat and deerstalker hat.
SILVER BLAZE was directed by Thomas Bentley, instead of series regular Leslie Hiscott. Bentley brings some visual dash to the proceedings, and yes, Wontner gets to relate the curious incident of the dog during the nighttime. This movie was shown in the U.S. during the early 40s as MURDER AT THE BASKERVILLES, to take advantage of the popular Basil Rathbone version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES.
The visual quality of this Blu-ray is decent--it's not spectacular, but it is better-looking than the other films in this set. The extras include a 1913 comedy short called COUSINS OF SHERLOCKO and a 1928 Felix the Cat cartoon titled SURE LUCK HOLMES. These two novelties actually have nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes.
Also included is the third part of a discussion with independent producer Sam Sherman, who talks about his history with the Arthur Wontner-Holmes series. There's also a booklet, written by Don Stradley, that goes into Arthur Wontner's association with Sherlock Holmes. Finally there's an audio commentary with Phoef Sutton and Mark Jordan Legan. The duo go into various aspects of Sherlockian lore.
Having gotten through all the movies and the extras in THE SHERLOCK HOLMES VAULT COLLECTION, I have to say that the set didn't overwhelm me. I appreciate that The Film Detective added some extras for each film, but there was a randomness to them, and none of the audio commentaries are what I would call must-listens. The overall visual & audio qualities of the films were not all that much better than what you could find on YouTube. Still, it's a decent effort--the packaging is attractive--and it does shine a light on a forgotten Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Wontner.