The Arsenal Stadium Mystery

In DVD/Blu-ray by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery wears its affiliations boldly. It’s a football film. It’s a who-done-it. And it’s as British as fish and chips.

Amateur team The Trojans face their toughest challenge yet: a charity match against Arsenal in front of a capacity crowd. During game, the Trojans’ star player collapses—apparently murdered in front of 70,000 witnesses. 

Filmed at the iconic Highbury stadium, the film also stars several real life Arsenal players including Cliff Bastin and Eddie Hopgood. Brentford FC double for the Trojans’ on-pitch, and footage was filmed during the last match of the 1938-39 season, before the outbreak of war.

However what sets The Arsenal Stadium Mystery a notch above the usual fare is the wonderfully quirky Inspector Slade of Scotland Yard. Played by Leslie Banks–more familiar on film as the villain of the piece–Slade is a joyous creation, with Banks clearly relishing the opportunity to play against type.

Leonard R Gribble’s detective with penchant for theatre—and a hat for every occasion—featured in several novels and The Arsenal Stadium Mystery was intended to be the first in a series of features. Sadly they never materialised, but The Arsenal Stadium Mystery remains both a classic whodunit and a high-water mark for pre-war British film. Directed by Oscar-nominated Thorold Dickinson, it is featured here as a High Definition remaster from original film elements in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.