Plot: 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. 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”.
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 Holmes films which also began in the 1930s.
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[clarification needed] with “The Sleeping Cardinal”, a picture disguising the identity of Professor Moriarty (Norman McKinnel),[clarification needed] 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.