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As a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, I'd LOVE a 100% faithful adaptation of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES; but as a realist, I know that the only way that would happen is if a group of actors read the book word for word on radio or audiotape. After all, what works in a book doesn't always work on screen; and Ernest Pascal's adaptation is faithful to the spirit, if not always the letter, of Conan Doyle's novel (just watch the scene in the hut on the moor when Watson meets up with Holmes, who explains what's going on: 'Murder, my dear Watson. Refined, cold-blooded murder.' The scene as written by Conan Doyle is a bit dry; Pascal expands on it in a way that makes the scene work on film, and in doing so shows that he was clearly in tune with the source material. Yes, some key characters were dropped or had their parts reduced; others were built up so there would be a few more suspects. In the end, however, we're left with what is still the best version of HOUND ever committed to celluloid. Basil Rathbone IS Holmes: even if he had never played the character again, he would still be guaranteed a place among the great portrayers of the detective. Nigel Bruce's Watson is brave and loyal, and not the somewhat bumbling sidekick he became in the later films; and there is a real friendship between his Watson and Rathbone's Holmes which is a crucial element of any portrayal of the characters, yet which is so often missing. As is only natural with a film made more than sixty years ago, it does creak a bit in places; but it's still a wonderful way to spend ninety or so minutes.
1939 was a great year for Basil Rathbone. Not only did he star in Son of Frankenstein, but he began his string of Sherlock Holmes flicks that even now are as popular as ever. For anyone who enjoys mystery, suspense, good vs evil, or just a fun, intelligent film, The Hound of the Baskervilles is definitely worth a serious look. The film stands out for many reasons. One of them is the classical atmosphere and its mysterious feel. The characters are all excellent and make great suspects in the case (especially John Carradine as the butler). Another thing is that this is one of only two Holmes films that are placed in the Victorian time period, giving it a truly natural feel (the way that Doyle intended). This is before Sherlock Holmes became the victim of anti-Nazi propaganda just like everyone else. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the films for some different and some similar reasons. I just wish that there were a few more from the Victorian period that's all. Anyway, in this film Rathbone is brilliant as Holmes. He is full of life and seems genuinely intrigued and excited in his portrayal. Nigel Bruce is also very good as a competent Dr. Watson (before the funnier but less competent version was invented shortly thereafter). The movie is the most true to its original source (Doyle's novel) as well. I think that its also more of a movie in itself rather than a "Sherlock Holmes" movie, which accounts for Rathbone being credited second under the charming leading man. Finally this movie contains the only joke-like reference to the famous detective's implied cocaine use. To fans of Holmes, Rathbone, mystery/suspense, good acting, and great films I say this: Check out this series starting with this movie!! Oh, and "Watson, the needle".
I am a huge fan of all the Rathbone/Bruce movies, but this is the best of them all. The atmosphere and lighting casts the perfect mood for the dark, creepy moor where strange goings on interest Holmes and Watson to help the young heir of Baskerville Hall. All the actors do an excellent job, and the movie, filmed some 60 years go does not seem dated. The writing, directing, acting, etc all stand up, even now, some years later. I also liked the 1959 Hammer Version of this story, but Peter Cushing is not the perfect Sherlock Holmes. Basil Rathbone is the definitive Holmes as Nigel Bruce is the perfect Dr. Watson. Watch this sometime soon and enjoy!!!
This classic take on Arthur Conan Doyle's classic novel is a fantastic
thriller. Although I prefer the Hammer Horror version, this one is a
more than worthy second. The story will be familiar to most people that
know anything about classic literature, and it features a family that
have been cursed by a mythical hound, due to an ancestor's actions
years earlier. After the death of his uncle, Sir Henry Baskerville
moves into Baskerville Hall, which is located on the Moors in Dartford,
and claims his family fortune. However, the hound may still be a large
and Sir Henry's life may be at stake. Enter ace detective Sherlock
Holmes. Hired by the doctor and friend of the family, Sherlock sends
his assistant, Dr Watson, down to Dartmoor to investigate the goings on
down there while he attends to some other business back in London. What
follows is an exceptional exhibition of atmosphere, mystery and tension
as the enigma of the hound of the Baskervilles unfolds in front of the
The Moors serve as an excellent setting for a story like this. As the film is keen to profess, it's location is as rich in life as the story itself and that's what makes the Moors all important for the film's story. The Moors are also extremely atmospheric, with it's many pitfalls creating a foreboding atmosphere and the smoke that protrudes from it's many pores helping to make the horror elements more potent within the story. Sherlock Holmes is, of course, one of the best and most important characters ever written and Basil Rathbone portrays him excellently in this film. It's a great honour for an actor to be given the role of this magnitude, and Rathbone makes Doyle proud. The story is constantly intriguing thanks to the interesting characters, and also due to the fact that the story is very well paced. This makes the film a pleasure to view, as the audience is constantly kept on the edge of their seats for the duration, and that's the sort of reaction that you want when watching a mystery thriller.
The world's most famous amateur detective tracks THE HOUND
THE BASKERVILLES, a notorious demonic fiend intent on
destroying the last descendent of an ancient family.
20th Century Fox brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic tale to vivid life in this excellent mystery thriller. Whether the setting is Baker Street's cozy study, the foggy lanes of London, or Dartmoor's moody wastes, the concise direction and superior production values transports the viewer into the world of Queen Victoria's 1880's. Sir Arthur's original story is altered somewhat to meet the requirements of the cinema, abbreviated in spots and fleshed-out in others, but this happens to nearly all literature when translated to the screen and does not diminish the enjoyment a whit.
This was the first of what was to become fourteen films, the only American-made movie series based on Holmes' adventures. Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson would become forever identified with the roles and they were perfect: Rathbone with his aquiline features and haughty aristocratic mien, the absolute embodiment of a supreme intelligence; and Bruce, bumbling & pudgy, but intensely loyal and good-natured (and also cognizant of the fact that a little comic relief would help him hold his own in scenes with Rathbone).
Richard Greene, who actually receives screen credit above that of Rathbone, makes a stalwart young hero--the returning heir whose life is placed in danger by the devilish Hound. The rest of the cast is also most proficient, especially sinister actors Lionel Atwill & John Carradine (as the Baskerville lawyer & butler, respectively). Beryl Mercer plays Atwill's spooky little spouse and Eily Malyon, as Carradine's wife, is quite effective as a woman with secrets to hide.
Pretty Wendy Barrie, and Morton Lowry as her naturalist brother, portray Baskerville's neighbors on the moor, while old Barlowe Boyland provides some humorous moments as a highly litigious rascal.
Smaller roles are equally well filled: Mary Gordon is perfectly cast as a grandmotherly Mrs. Hudson; E.E. Clive as a London cabby with surprising information; gaunt silent screen actor Nigel De Brulier as a fugitive convict; and, in a flashback, Ralph Forbes as the infamous Sir Hugo, the first Baskerville to meet the Hound.
The climactic attack by the implacable Hound is presented with real menace & suspense and the satisfied viewer is left ready for the next film in the series which would be THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1939).
Despite the famous title - perhaps the most famous of all the Sherlock
Holmes stories - I found the movie to be just an average Holmes tale.
It was entertaining and well-done but nothing spectacular. I am certain
not knocking this film. I love these old Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce SH
movies. An "average" Holmes film with these two guys still gets an
This was the first pairing of the above-mentioned two actors and Bruce, as "Dr. Watson," was not the bumbling buffoon as he was in subsequent episodes. However, I prefer Watson in that role because he added a lot of humor and entertainment. In this movie, Watson is pictured as fairly intelligent, for a change!
I enjoyed the lighting in this story. It made for some superb cinematography. The stark black-and-white shots inside the Baskerville mansion were great, as were the many facial closeups in this movie. The gray of the moors outside were in stark contrast to the indoor shots.
Although the séance fizzled, the credence given the occult in the story put a frown on a my face. It's amazing how many ignorant, superstitious people there have been in the world who actually believe they can talk to dead people. The rest of the story was a lot more intelligent and credible.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's best loved Sherlock Holmes work, The Hound of the Baskervilles, gets a beautifully photographed presentation on the screen by director Sidney Lanfield. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce team in their first Holmes film as the world's original reasoning detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene) returns from abroad to take up residence in the family estate on the eerie moors in west England. But the foggy landscape appears to be haunted by an invisible creature with demonic powers bent on destroying Sir Henry. Holmes must use all his powers of deduction to solve the case. Although other actors have played Holmes and Watson, Rathbone and Bruce are the undisputed kings. Rathbone brings his rapier profile and fiery intensity to Holmes and Bruce plays Watson like an adoring and faithful puppy dog. They made other adaptations of Holmes together but The Hound of the Baskervilles is the strongest Conan Doyle story and makes for the best movie in the Holmes series.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles" was the first movie that paired the great actor Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as his bumbling yet lovable assistant, Dr. Watson. The two actors embody the characters of Holmes and Watson, and it's a delight to see the interaction between the two. This movie is great on all levels, from the creepy atmosphere of the moors where the "hound from hell" roams, to the performances of all the actors involved. Richard Greene, who plays Sir Henry Baskerville, and John Carradine also give solid performances. I remember watching this movie on late night TV with my sister when I was a kid and being genuinely frightened by the scenes on the moor when Richard Greene is being chased by the hound. For me this is the best of the Sherlock Holmes series of movies that was made in the late 1930's and 1940's. A must see!
this is the first filmed version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel.it's also the first of fourteen Sherlock Holmes films Starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as his friend/sidekick, Dr. Watson.this is the second version i have seen,the first being the 1959 version starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.i liked that one more.this 1939 version,while good,is slow at times.the acting is good,as one would expect.the story is interesting.as i said,this is a good adaptation,other than the slow pace.otherwise,i was entertained.interestingly,even though they are the main stars,Rathbone is billed second,and Bruce billed fourth in the film.anyway,it's a pretty good 80 minute or so diversion.for me,The Hound of the Baskervilles is an 8/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When his uncle dies, Sir Henry Baskerville returns to England from
Canada to take up his title and estates. The only problem is that there
is a curse on the family dating back hundreds of years in the form of a
giant hound that will kill the current head of the family. When others
around him are killed on the moors and attempts are made on his life,
Sir Henry turns to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the mystery.
Basil Rathbone is the perfect Sherlock Holmes. Physically and in temperament, I cannot imagine any other actor doing as good a job in this role as he does. This may not be news to many, but as this is the first of his films that I have seen, I was pleasantly surprised. And I was almost as pleased with the performance of Nigel Bruce as Watson. The rest of the supporting cast also performed admirably in their roles.
The story moved along at a fast pace, and managed to maintain a decent atmosphere of suspense despite the identity of the murderer being given away early kn the film (if the viewer is paying attention). The settings on the moors are wonderfully bleak and dreary and certainly helped contribute to the effectiveness of the film.
Overall, I enjoyed this one a lot and highly recommend it.
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