John Barrymore's impressive performance in this picture is a testament to the strength of his talent, because it had a lot to overcome -- according to director Albert Parker, the famed thespian was on a bender for much of the shoot. This version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories (adapted from the play by William Gillette) was shot on location in London and Switzerland; when the crew headed back to the States to complete shooting, Parker pleaded with Barrymore to quit drinking. Surprisingly, Barrymore obliged, and was sober for the rest of production. The storyline follows the play pretty closely, including Holmes' early days, in which he decided to study criminology after college graduation. Along with his faithful assistant, Dr. Watson (Roland Young), Holmes comes face to face with arch criminal Professor Moriarty (Gustav von Seyffertitz). Moriarty is causing trouble for Prince Alexis (Reginald Denny), and Holmes craftily outwits the villain. This excellent picture had only a few faults -- one was its lengthy subtitles. The other noticeable gaffe was casting Carol Dempster (who was borrowed from D.W. Griffith) to play the romantic interest, Alice Faulkner -- her performance is only passable. A young William Powell has a small supporting role.
by Janiss Garza synopsis