The Sleeping Cardinal

The Sleeping Cardinal, also known as Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour in the United States, is a 1931 British mystery film directed by Leslie S. Hiscott and starring Arthur Wontner and Ian Fleming.[1] The film is an adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, although it is not based on any one particular story it draws inspiration from "The Empty House" and "The Final Problem".[2] It is unrelated to the Basil Rathbone series of Holmes films which also began in the 1930s.

The Sleeping Cardinal
U.S. trade ad in Moving Picture Daily
Directed byLeslie S. Hiscott
Produced byJulius Hagen
Written byArthur Conan Doyle (stories)
Leslie S. Hiscott
H. Fowler Mear
Cyril Twyford
StarringArthur Wontner
Ian Fleming
Philip Hewland
Jane Welsh
Music byJohn Greenwood
CinematographySydney Blythe
William Luff
Edited byJack Harris
Distributed byWarner Brothers (UK)
First Division Pictures (US)
Release date
February 1931
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Plot summary

Opening with a silent sequence in silhouette within the Bank of England, we're whisked to a London home where a young diplomatic attache, Foreign Office bureaucrat Ronnie Adair (Leslie Perrins), is once again winning handsomely while gambling at bridge.

Adair is called to a meeting with "The Sleeping Cardinal", a picture disguising the identity of Professor Moriarty (Norman McKinnel), and blackmailed into taking counterfeit money to Paris in his diplomatic pouch. Adair's concerned sister calls for the assistance of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Wontner) and Dr. Watson (Ian Fleming) to investigate the reasons for her brother's gambling excesses and depressed moods. After Adair succumbs to an apparent suicide; Holmes deduces Moriarty's involvement from a trail of clues.


Critical reception

Allmovie wrote, "Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour got the Wontner Holmes series off to a rousing start."[3]



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