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Sir Charles Baskerville dies at the entrance of his manor, and Doctor Mortimer says he died of natural causes. However, when telling Sherlock Holmes of the case, he feels Sir Charles' death was a result of a centuries old curse that runs in the Baskerville family, which Dr. Mortimer feels will strike at Sir Charles nephew, Sir Henry, who is arriving to claim the Baskerville estate. Holmes sends Dr. Watson in his place, along with Dr. Mortimer and Sir Henry, to the manor and for Watson to keep an eye out for any suspicious actions. Immediately after arriving, Watson notices the queer occurrences at the estate and surrounding moors, and sends Holmes reports of what is going on concerning the life of Sir Henry. Will Holmes arrive in time to unravel the mystery, and who is responsible for Sir Charles' death and the attempted murder of Sir Henry? Is it Dr. Mortimer, neighbor Stapleton, butler Barryman, harmless old Frankland, a mysterious wild man, or is there a curse on the Baskerville family? Very good opening entry in the Rathbone-Bruce Holmes series (even though this film lacks qualities of any ongoing entries.) The film could have been a bit more darker and foreboding (the film does have a movie studio set feel) and have an ending with a little more confrontation to it, but it does provide for much fun. The romantic scenes with Greene and Barrie have little spark, but there are very good red herring performances by the cast, which is a plus for this movie. Rating, 8.
This great Black & White film from the late 1930's kept my interest from beginning to end. The old time scenery and furniture which was created on a great old time set was fantastic. Basil Rathbone,(Sherlock Holmes),"The Mark of Zorro",'40, had his hands full trying to break down all the suspects and Nigel Bruce,(Dr. Watson),"Rebecca",'40 gave a great supporting role as an old retired doctor who had a loss of memory at times and managed to get in trouble at the wrong times. Lionel Atwill,(James Mortimer,M.D.),"Sherlock Holmes & the Secret Weapon",'42 managed to create a great deal of mystery to everything he did through out the entire film. Lionel Atwill also played the very evil Professor Moriarty in another Sherlock Homes film. Last but not least was John Carradine, who played (Barryman),"House of Frankenstein",'44 who was a very mysterious butler and added a great deal of drama to this film. Great Classic actors and a great Classic Film for all generations to view and enjoy!
It is the sixth film adaptation of the classic novel by Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle, this time in the hands of Sidney Lanfield, with the role
of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, actors who played the famous couple
Of all the series they made together, this is probably the best film; this is due to the plot of the novel, a mixture of intrigue and suspense dingy police that adapts very easily to film language, which is not usual with classic detective stories. It's a film that discovers the identity of the murderer well before the denouement, but manages to keep the viewer entertained due to surround the murky atmosphere that transmit marshy landscapes where the plot unfolds In this case we are dealing with a film expressionistic visual style that fits well with the inherent requirements of the story, and follows a fairly reliable the plot of the novel, capturing the atmosphere quite well, with hints suggested and arranged properly ghostly .. The performances are good, although most obscured by the prominence of Rathbone (he is gorgeous transmitting characteristic coolness detective) and Bruce (he composes a Watson too silly, but provides needed dose of humor to the story); mention the hound is well designed, with an infernal aspect.
It's a script with many parts to highlight and good performances, a film for lovers of the wonderful adventures of this pair of detectives.
Arthur Conan Doyle's THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (20th Century-Fox,
1939), directed by Sidney Lanfield, is not the first "Sherlock Holmes"
mystery to reach the screen but the one that introduced Basil Rathone
as the popular fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. While there's been
many screen adaptations taken from the Doyle character dating back to
the silent era, ranging from stage actor William Gillette in 1916 to
John Barrymore in 1922, the best known for many being that of Rathbone
himself with Nigel Bruce as his assistant, Doctor John H. Watson. For
his Holmes introduction, Rathbone, in a role he was born to play,
doesn't get feature billing here. Ironically, top-billing goes to the
up-and-coming young Fox contract player by the name of Richard Greene.
Opening title: "1889 - In all England there is no district more dismal than that vast expanse of primitive wasteland, the moors of Dartmoor in Devonshire." As the camera tacks through the moors before stopping on the secluded Baskerville estate, a man, later identified as Sir Charles Baskerville (Ian MacLaren), chased by a vicious hound, collapses. This is witnessed by a mysterious man (Nigel De Brulier) who looks over the fainted man. Seeing that he's dead, the man runs away into the night. Later at the inquest, Baskerville's best friend, Doctor James Mortimer (Lionel Atwill), rules his death from a heart attack. Knowing that Baskerville was actually murdered, Mortimer hires pipe smoking, master detective, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) of 221-B Baker Street, for assistance. Before taking the case, Holmes listens as Mortimer reads through a detailed document (told via flashback) about how all male members of the Baskerville family (starting with Sir Hugo Baskerville (Ralph Forbes)) have died violent deaths. After Mortimer finishes his story, he claims that Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene), the latest heir to the family estate, about to arrive from Canada, will become the next victim. Shortly after Sir Henry's arrival, Holmes and his assistant, Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce), help prevent the first attempt on the young man's life while returning to the Northumberland Hotel. While remaining in London, Holmes enlists Watson to accompany Sir Henry and remain with him at Baskerville Hall and document every detail through daily letters mailed over to him. During Watson's stay, he encounters the mysterious servants, the Barrymans (John Carradine and Eily Malyon), who hold secrets of their own; Jenifer Mortimer (Beryl Mercer), who holds a séance; and the Stapletons, Beryl (Wendy Barrie) and her brother, John (Morton Lowry). Upon Holmes' long-awaited arrival, it is evident that the only way to prevent Sir Henry from facing death is to place his life in jeopardy.
With a fine assortment of British-type performers, many of whom being associated with Universal Pictures, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, with all its dark, atmospheric scenery with howling dog sounds echoing at the distance, the film leaves the impression of a Universal horror film. There's even some moments where an avid viewer would be expecting the sudden growling appearance of the Wolf Man at any moment. Instead, there's a mysterious bearded man roaming around the foggy moors where Bela Lugosi's Ygor portrayal from SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) immediately comes to mind. While there's some underscoring, the lack of it during the creepy moor sequences adds to the suspense. Considering the concept of the story, having Rathbone's name placed second under Richard Greene is understandable considering Greene being the central titled character and Holmes absent for close to a half hour. During Holmes's long absence (reason later explained), Watson fills in the void, taking enough control to have this become more of a Doctor Watson story than Sherlock Holmes. While portions of the plot are relatively slow, the film as a whole is never dull. Though reportedly faithful to the novel, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES benefits greatly by its casting of Rathbone and Bruce as Holmes and Watson and fine character types as E.E. Clive (Cabbie No. 2704); Barlowe Borland (Frankland), and the ever reliable Mary Gordon appearing briefly as Mrs. Hudson, Holmes' landlady, a role she would enact in future film installments throughout the forties.
Due to the 1959 color remake starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, the Rathbone version to THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES was taken out of the television markets, making this the least known and forgotten of the Rathbone-Bruce "Sherlock Holmes" collaborations. This and its immediate 20th-Fox sequel, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1939), though never became part the "Sherlock Holmes Theater" package on broadcast TV during the sixties and seventies, it did continue to circulate but on other channel networks. Over the years it's been only the up-to-date twelve entries produced by Universal (1942-46) that the public got to know so well. Finally, in December of 1976, New York City television's own WCBS, Channel 2, brought back the Rathbone-Bruce edition of HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES for the first time since 1959, but regrettably, on the late show rather than prime time weekend. Within a few short years, however, it not only became part of the "Sherlock Holmes" TV package, but available home video, DVD, and broadcast occasionally on some cable TV networks, notably Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 25, 2009).
As much as THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES itself was theatrically made and remade numerous times, with several made-for-television editions included, this 1939 edition is by no means a disappointment and highly recommended viewing. "Watson, the needle!" (***1/2)
This is the best version that still can be called a classic filmed in
1939 by Sidney Landfield with all-star-cast such as Basil Rathbone ,
Nigel Bruce , John Carradine and Richard Greene ; in which Holmes and
Watson are called to save Sir Baskerville from a curse that has plagued
his family for centuries . The first of fourteen films based on Arthur
Conan Doyle's fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes starring
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson
.Correct rendition of the most famous mystery novel written by Arthur
Conan Doyle with an awesome Basil Rathbone as Sherlock and fairly
faithful to the source material . Basil Rathbone as Holmes plays in a
clever , broody and impetuous manner .Nigel Bruce plays as Watson with
humor, goofy and joy , he's the perfect counterpoint to Holmes. 1889 ,
in all England there is no district more dismal than that vast expense
of primitive wasteland , the moor of Dartmoor in Devonshire . Holmes
(Basil Rathbone)and Watson(Nigel Bruce) are contracted by Doctor
Mortimer (Lionel Atwill , later played Professor Moriarty) for the
investigation of killing Sr. Baskerville who is now inherited by his
niece Sir Henry . Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes to help protect Sir
Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene), who has returned to England to take
his place at the family seat following the death of his uncle, Sir
Charles Baskerville. As Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson investigate the
legend of a supernatural , devilish hound, a beast that may be stalking
a young heir on the fog-shrouded moorland that makes up his estate .
Sir Charles died of cardiac exhaustion and Dr. Mortimer believes he was
frightened to death . There appears to be a curse on the family dating
back nearly 200 years to when Sir Hugo Baskerville was supposedly
killed on the moor by a huge hound. Holmes dismisses the supernatural
elements of the case but there are a sufficient number of odd events to
pique his interest. As Holmes investigates the mystery of a
supernatural hound threatening the life of a Dartmoor baronet. Holmes
soon realizes that someone is making sure the legend becomes real .
Watson goes to the mansion ,there are the servants(John Carradine) and
he meets Stapleton and his sister (Wendy Barrie). Meanwhile an inmate
has escaped and on the haunted moor sound the barking of a savage ,
This is an excellent and thrilling film with dark elements in classic style based on the splendid novel by Arthur Conan Doyle . It's a genuine ripping yarn with much suspense and moody intrigue . It's distinguished by its cast with Basil's Sherlock and Nigel's Watson ably playing off each other . The film gets mystery , tension , thrills , detective action and packs an exciting deal of outstanding surprises with great lots of fun despite to be a known story . Basil Rathbone's magnificent interpretation , he plays as Holmes as an intelligent, obstinate , broody, pipesmoking sleuth . Basil takes on the character emphasizing the role's cynical humor as well as his sometimes insufferable intelligence . His acting is the best and similarly to Jeremy Brett for TV or Nicol Williamson (Seven-per-cent-solution) or Christopher Plummer (Murder by decree) . Rathbone ably backs him up as Sherlock in this version closely follows the Conan Doyle story . While not entirely passive, Watson's original role was mostly as an observer of Holmes and the chronicler of his cases. With this film a new tradition began where Watson enjoyed equal billing with Holmes , in Nigel Bruce's hands the character became a comedic foil and a bit of a bumbler . After being out of circulation for many years, partly because of the 1959 Hammer remake in Technicolor starring Peter Cushing, this film was restored and re-released to theaters in 1975 with great fanfare, to the point of having the national evening news do a story on it. The movie has a creepy atmosphere specially when is developed on the moors where lives the fearful giant beast ; besides the 221 Baker Street's house is well designed . Dark and murky cinematography full of shades and lights by Peverel Marley . Thrilling and intriguing musical score by Mockridge and David Buttolph . This atmospheric motion picture was well directed by Sidney Landfield .
Other versions about this story are the following : ¨Hammer House of Horror¨ rendition (1959) by the great Terence Fisher with Peter Cushing , Andre Morell and Christopher Lee ; 1977 spoof adaptation by Paul Morrissey with Dudley Moore , Peter Cooke and Denholm Elliott ; 1983 recounting by Douglas Hickox with Ian Richardson , Donald Churchill and Martin Shaw ; 2000 unpteeth rendition by Rodney Gibbons with Matt Frewer , Kenneth Welsh and Jason London , English adaptation (1983) by Douglas Hickox with Ian Richardson as Holmes and Donald Churchill as Watson and TV rendition with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke directed by Peter Hammond and BBC take on with Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock .
In this adaptation of Conan Doyle's most famous novel, Holmes and Watson investigate the death at an estate on the moors, where legend has it that a deadly creature is on the loose. This is the first, and perhaps the best, in the series of films featuring Rathbone as Holmes and Bruce as Watson. Strangely, Greene, an actor who had made his first film the previous year, gets top billing and much of the screen time here, perhaps an indication that the studio did not envision this as a series. The cinematography is excellent, with the foggy moors perfectly evoking an eerie atmosphere that enhances the sense of foreboding. It's efficiently directed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie & the next (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) were made by 20th
Century Fox, in 1939 & were better than the ones made by Universal in
the 1940's. Let us also remember that Universal was not the big studio
it is now.
In 1939 one of the studios up & coming stars was Richard Greene. (he later became Robin Hood). He is the top billed actor & actually the major role. He always was a good hero,but not that good an actor. The one & only Basil Rathbone is Sherlock Holmes & Rathbone does what he always did, creating a memorable character. Mr. Rathbone had the fantastic talent to play any sort of role, villain or hero.
A few years prior he created the most memorable Pontius Pilate in a Cecil B. DeMille almost forgettable epic, I may have forgot the title BUT not his Pontius Pilate.(this was before supporting actors got Oscars-) over the years he made many unforgettable characters.
This was his first time as Sherlock. Nigel Bruce was a good Dr. Watson, I never could figure why they made Watson a comic character.
Wendy Barrie is the love interest.(this was then & still is a staple character). I do not think she figures into the original Conan Doyle story. The made a few changes to the original.
Sydney Lanfield (a studio director) did his usual good work. The screenplay was written by Ernest Pascal. Look for Lionel Atwill & John Carradine in supporting roles. They both always gave fine performances.
This is no where a great film, BUT is an enjoyable time spent. It is only 80 minutes long..
One more point of information. They made films fast back them. It too less than 90 days from first day of shooting to actual release date.
Ratings: **1/2 (out of 4) 78 points (out of 100) IMDb 7 (out of 10)
I first saw this Sherlock Holmes film a extremely long time ago, I had
heard that Basil Rathbone was in this one, and I was really excited as
to seeing it. And when this film was over, I began to say that Basil
Rathbone should have been there to stay! I have seen several of all of
the actors to play Sherlock Holmes, and Rathbone is probably the
definitive one that I have seen, I mean that he was perfect for the
part, he even looked like Sherlock Holmes in a few of the illustrations
of him that I saw! This is perhaps one of the best Sherlock Holmes
movies that there have ever been, and it is one of my favorites, as
well as my second favorite of the series that had Basil Rathbone
playing Holmes! I have always thought that this film was very fabulous,
not only is it very fabulous, but it is also really a film that is
I remember that when this movie was over, I just wanted to sit down a second time and watch this all over again, because I really thought that this was a fabulous time! There has rarely been at time that when I finished a movie, I could just sit back down and watch this movie all over again, another time that I had that feeling was when I first saw the Godfather, boy that was a really fabulous movie! Now getting back to this film, I was totally thrilled with this, I will probably be buying this movie on DVD!
If you have not seen this totally fabulous movie yet, then I really highly recommend that you do see this movie, because you are really going to be thrilled with this, you are going to be as thrilled as I was when I first saw it!
Probably the best known of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan
Doyle, The Hound Of The Baskervilles gets the A treatment from 20th
Century Fox and introduces the team of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce
as Holmes and Watson. They would only go on to make one other Holmes
feature for Fox before the series shifted to Universal and a
considerable downgrading in production values.
The film is also a chance for Darryl F. Zanuck to exhibit Richard Greene who was being groomed at that time as a possible successor to Tyrone Power as the number one heartthrob on the lot. Power was Zanuck's personal favorite among the stars, but even with favorites you have to have someone to keep them in line. And Greene's British background was more in keeping with the locale of the story. Though I certainly could have seen Tyrone Power playing the young Baskerville heir.
It's not the Baskerville heir, but a doctor played by Lionel Atwill at the Baskerville estate who suspects foul play of sorts in the death of the elder Baskerville who was his patient. Though the man died of a heart attack, Atwill tells Rathbone that near the body were "the footprints of a gigantic hound" corresponding to a legendary killer dog that has stalked the Baskerville family for generations. Atwill hires Holmes to protect Greene who is coming over from Canada to claim the estate.
There is a curse of sorts on the Baskervilles, brought on by the rakish behavior of an ancestor played in flashback by Ralph Forbes. He is the first to meet his end in an unnatural manner on that family tree.
A fine cast supports Greene, Rathbone, and Bruce who in fact are billed in that order which leads me to suspect Tyrone Power might have been originally intended for the role. Besides Atwill we also have John Carradine as the Baskerville butler, Wendy Barrie as Greene's intended, Morton Lowry as a neighboring landowner, and Beryl Mercer who is Atwill's wife with a gift for clairvoyance.
There are never any supernatural solutions in a Sherlock Holmes mystery and when the culprit is revealed the motives are more involved with the present though they are grounded in how the legend came about.
This is the first and best of the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. Would all of them had maintained this level of quality.
This is the definitive film of Sherlock Holmes. Basil Rathbone is
brilliant in this role but it is the direction that captures the mood
and haunting atmosphere that makes this a period piece worth owning and
playing again and again. How a director approaches making a film that
will captivate an audience is beyond me but most of the time cinematic
failures abound and are the norm for the industry. But when a film like
this comes along and captures the imagination of generations of viewing
audiences then you know the director has created cinematic "gold". Can
this kind of masterful work be achieved by "fluke", I don't know, but I
think in this case luck, good fortune, magic and skill all combined
under the heavens to aid the director in creating a true "masterpiece"
that will stand the test of time.
This is a true haunting and atmospheric thrill ride that will scare the daylights out of you and thrill and excite you at the same time.
See it, buy it, just get your hands on this one and enjoy. A great story that is beautifully rendered here in celluloid, truthfully and honestly, the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have loved.
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