The Sleeping Cardinal
U.S. trade ad in Moving Picture Daily
Directed byLeslie S. Hiscott
Written by
Produced byJulius Hagen
Edited byJack Harris
Music byJohn Greenwood
Distributed by
Release date
February 1931
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

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, the film draws inspiration from "The Empty House" and "The Final Problem".[2] The film is the first in the 1931–1937 film series starring Wontner as Sherlock Holmes. It is unrelated to the Basil Rathbone series of Sherlock Holmes films that began in the late 1930s.

The film was produced at Twickenham Studios in London with sets designed by art director James A. Carter.


In London, young diplomatic attaché Ronnie Adair, is playing bridge when he is called to a meeting with Professor Moriarty and blackmailed into transporting counterfeit money to Paris in his diplomatic pouch. Adair's concerned sister calls for the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to investigate the reasons for her brother's gambling excesses and depressed moods. After Adair dies from an apparent suicide, Holmes deduces Moriarty's involvement from a trail of clues.



In a contemporary review, The New York Times wrote: "There are secret doors leading into strange compartments and rooms, and there are scufflings and caterwaulings in dark corridors. All the characters express their contempt for one another by that sinister laugh—the 'ha, ha' which preceded the 'yeah' of modern gangdom. Detective Holmes barely escapes with his life, and the dear Dr. Watson is drawn away by innumerable red herrings."[3]


  1. ^ Michael_Elliott (1 February 1931). "IMDB". IMDb.
  2. ^ "The Sleeping Cardinal". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Sherlock Holmes Returns". The New York Times. 13 July 1931. p. 13.