Murder at the Baskervilles (a.k.a. Silver Blaze) is a 1937 British, black-and-white crime and mystery film, based loosely on Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "Silver Blaze". It was directed by Thomas Bentley, and was produced by Twickenham Film Studios Productions. It stars Arthur Wontner as Sherlock Holmes, and Ian Fleming (no, not that one despite what some sources say) as Dr. Watson.
Sherlock Holmes takes a vacation and visits his old friend Sir Henry Baskerville. His vacation ends when he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a double-murder mystery. Now he's got to find Professor Moriarty and the horse Silver Blaze before the great cup final horse race.
Murder at the Baskervilles was the last in a series of five Sherlock Holmes films starring Wontner. The other instalments consisted of:
- The Sleeping Cardinal (1931)
- The Missing Rembrandt (1932, lost film)
- The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case (1932)
- The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935, adapted from The Valley of Fear)
Murder at the Baskervilles contains examples of:
- Accidental Murder: Straker is kicked to death Silver Blaze while attempting to lame the horse.
- Adaptation Expansion: The short story "Silver Blaze" is expanded by including the return of Sir Henry Baskerville (from The Hound of the Baskervilles), a romantic subplot involving Sir Henry's daughter Diana, and the involvement of Professor Moriarty in the Silver Blaze scam.
- Blindfolded Trip: Stanford is blindfolded when being brought to or taken from Moriarty's hideout.
- Busman's Holiday: Sherlock Holmes finally gives in to Watson's urging that he needs to takes a holiday, and accepts an invitation from Sir Henry Baskerville to visit him in Exeter. No sooner does he arrive than he is confronted with a case involving a double murder and a stolen racehorse.
- Dramatic Drop: When Simpson tells Mrs Straker that Hunter is dead, she drops the teacup she is holding.
- Fixing the Game: Moriarty attempts to ensure that Silver Blaze loses the Cup: first by extorting Straker into laming the horse, and then by shooting the jockey during the race.
- Hijacked by Ganon: The filmmakers inserted Professor Moriarty into the events of the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" in order to beef up the running time. However, for Holmes fans, it seems ludicrous that Moriarty would be taking a personal hand in so trivial a crime as fixing a horse race.
- Market-Based Title: The film's original British title is Silver Blaze. It was changed to Murder at the Baskervilles for its American release in an attempt to cash in on the Basil Rathbone film The Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Pistol-Whipping: Price knocks Watson out by rapping him over the back of the head with a pistol.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Hunter is murdered when powdered opium is slipped into his curried lamb.
- Tap on the Head: Price knocks out Watson by rapping him over the back of the head with a pistol. Watson does not stay unconscious long.
- Trapped by Gambling Debts: Moriarty buys up Straker's debts and uses them to extort him into complying with his scheme to nobble Silver Blaze.
- Vehicular Assault: Moriarty's chauffeur Price rams Holmes' car and knocks it off the road on the moors, after Moran first shoots it up with the automatic airgun.
- Weaponized Camera: Colonel Moran uses a high-powered airgun concealed within a movie camera to shoot the jockey of Silver Blaze.