The Scarlet Claw appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. I hoped that as the Holmes series progressed, the images would improve, but in this case, the opposite seemed to be true, as Claw mightíve been the most problematic transfer of the films Iíve seen.
As usual, print flaws were the main concern. From open to close, I noticed many examples of specks, blotches, marks, tears, nicks, scratches, lines and debris. Some segments looked better than others, but none escaped harm.
The rest of the image was stronger but not as good as its predecessors. In particular, softness took a bit of a hit. While most of the film showed fairly nice delineation, wide shots tended to seem softer than usual. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and blacks looked pretty good. Dark tones seemed reasonably solid, and low-light shots offered fairly positive clarity. Though this wasnít an unwatchable presentation, the combination of nearly constant print flaws and some softness made it a ďD+Ē.
Donít expect improvements from the problematic monaural soundtrack. In particular, this one seemed rougher than its predecessors. Noise was a bigger concern, and speech tended to be edgy and sibilant. Music was usually somewhat harsh, and effects appeared distorted. All I want from a 1940s mono mix is to get acceptably clear audio, but that didnít happen here; the track was a bit of a mess.
Because Claw came as part of a 14-film, five-disc set, I didnít give it a grade for bonus materials. The package spreads these across all of those platters, and only a few are film-specific, so I didnít think it was fair to issue individual marks for extras.
We do find an audio commentary for Claw. Author David Stuart Davies provides a running, screen-specific look at story issues and influences, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, connected timelines and other production areas.
This is the third Davies commentary Iíve heard, and itís a decent one but not terrific. At this point, Davies seems to be running out of series-related notes the share, so he feels a bit tapped out along the way. Nonetheless, he still manages to throw out a reasonable amount of info; the track simply drags more than Iíd like.
Found on Disc One of this package, we get an Introduction by Robert Gitt. In this four-minute, 38-second piece, Gitt discusses the efforts that went into the restoration of the Universal Holmes flicks. Gitt gives us a good look at some of the challenges he and his team encountered.
Disc Five offers a few more bonus materials, and we find five Photo Galleries. Each one shows a running montage of stills accompanied by music; they run two minutes, 35 seconds apiece. We see posters and photos from the flicks. These are mildly interesting but not particularly memorable.
Next we discover a compilation of trailers. We locate promos for The Spider Woman, The Scarlet Claw, The Pearl of Death, House of Fear, Terror By Night and Dressed to Kill. Theyíre in awful shape, but theyíre still fun to see.
Footage of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle comes from a newsreel that appeared at the time of his death. This one-minute, 16-second clip gives us a little of Doyle as he talks about his work on the series. He doesnít tell us much, but itís nice to have a look at the man behind the legend.
With a tight narrative and a clever narrative, The Scarlet Claw satisfies. It doesnít attempt to reinvent any wheels, but it delivers the kind of fun mystery we want from Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, picture and audio come with many problems. A few supplements round out the set with some decent material, however. The Blu-ray has issues but the movie itself entertains