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Index 92 reviews in total 

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Sherlock Holmes (Rathbone & Bruce) Chapter 1of14

10/10
Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
8 July 2014

Here it is. The Classic Conan-Doyle Tale that has been Filmed so Many Times that Film Historians Lose Count (24 says Wikipedia). But this Eerie Film will Always be Most Remembered for the Initial Teaming of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. There would be 14 Movies in the Series.

Most Folks know that the First Two were done by 20th Century Fox and were set in Period (Victorian London) and the Next Twelve were Updated to Modern Times by Universal Studios. Also, this is the Only Film where Watson is a Credibly Straight Portrayal. In the Next Film the Holme's Put-Downs Start and a bit of Stumbling, Bumbling, and Mumbling Begin.

The Movie is Incredibly Filled with Suspense, Action, and Intrigue for a Short Running Time of 80 Minutes. There is so Much Going On. The Atmosphere is Gloomy, Foggy and Detailed, but is an Obvious Studio Set, and it does Add a bit of Surrealism.

There is a Fine Cast on Hand Featuring Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, and a Stiff but Acceptable Richard Greene as the Romantic Interest with a Scent that the Hound Sniffs Out. There is Mysticism and the Supernatural at Play and Holmes is Perfectly Fleshed Out with an Iconic Look, Straight Out of the Strand Magazine's Illustrations and a Demeanor that Recalled the Literary Favorite.

The Ending is a Terrifying Confrontation with the Hound on the Moor Strikingly Violent. Holmes Final Line, Once Removed for Obvious Reasons, is now the Stuff of Legend.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"Murder, my dear Watson. Refined, cold-blooded murder."

8/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
2 April 2014

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) must protect the heir to a wealthy estate, Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene, who oddly receives top billing). A family legend states that a demonic hound kills all Baskerville men because of something one of their ancestors did. The first Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes film. One of two Sherlock films made by 20th Century Fox in 1939 before the series found its home at Universal, with Holmes updated to the present day.

Basil Rathbone is excellent in what would become his career-defining role. To me, Basil Rathbone IS Sherlock Holmes. I know the books have a rabid following and from my experiences with some of these devotees, they don't care much for the Rathbone films. Such is their loss. One of the primary complaints from the book fans is Nigel Bruce's portrayal of Watson. Apparently they feel he's a bumbling cartoon of a character. I can't agree with that. Bruce's Watson is a loyal, brave, warm, decent man. That he is used sometimes to bring levity to the otherwise serious tone of the films is hardly a bad thing, in my opinion. If you want to see a detective series with a truly buffoonish comic relief sidekick, I can recommend plenty.

A wonderful supporting cast backing up Rathbone and Bruce that includes Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, Wendy Barrie, Barlowe Borland, and E.E. Clive. Nice direction, great atmosphere and sets. Love the foggy moor. A good start to a wonderful series.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

And.. a star is born

10/10
Author: A_Different_Drummer from North America
2 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Rathbone was already a star when this was filmed (and indeed did other notable roles such as the bad guy in Mark of Zorro, 1940, also in my reviews) but this was history in the making. As Holmes, he was not just good, he was perfect. The studio was not sure about the effort but the box office was so good that 13 more followed. Rathbone may (OMG) have been the best Holmes of all, physically imposing, naturally intellectual, confidence inspiring, trustworthy, and he made every pronouncement sound like the discovery of the century, whether it was or not. Nigel Bruce pretty much set the template for the affable, foolish, but good-natured Watson. Set it so well in fact that 3/4 of a century later, writers would be jumping through hoops to re-imagine Watson just to show they could -- look at the fun Moffat is having with his ex-soldier, newly married Watson; and the writers in Elementary actually get to use an ex-Charlies Angel (!) to prove how far away from Nigel Bruce they can get. Look, let's be clear -- we live in era when, if a studio can get to 5 or 6 sequels without imploding, they are entering Oscar territory. That this franchise did 13 should make the point crystal clear. Iconic, and sets the bar. Brilliant.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Holmes on the Screen

10/10
Author: cjkelley333 from United States
14 January 2014

It is impossible to find as iconic a character in fiction as Sherlock Holmes. He's my personal favorite character from any fiction. Holmes is a brilliant detective who notices everything around him, and cracks cases with the slightest details. His stories are told from the point of view of his companion Dr. Watson, so that the audience has someone to relate to. The stories themselves are brilliant stories with brilliant premises, and are filled to the brim with suspense, intrigue, and mystery, as all crime or mystery stories should. Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles gets all of these elements down perfectly. And how does the 1939 film adaptation of this phenomenal story hold up? It's hard to imagine a better adaptation. A Sir Charles Baskerville has been found dead in front of his home Baskerville Hall. His friend, Dr. James Mortimer (Lionel Atwill), approaches consulting detective Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) with suspicions about Baskerville's death. The coroner ruled that Baskerville died naturally, Dr. Mortimer knows that he was chased by a vicious dog, the legendary Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene) is Charles' nephew and heir who returns to Baskerville Hall. Odd things around him, however, and Holmes dispatches Dr. Watson (Bruce Nigel) to visit Baskerville Hall and investigate, while Holmes studies the case from a distance. Few adaptations have been as successful as this film. The film stays faithful to the original story, thus keeping the same brilliant premise and events. Everything about the movie is intelligent. The story, writing, direction, and characters are all intelligent. The suspense of the novella is kept, and executed with just as much intrigue. The film has a bleak, grey, shadowy look that comes right out of Sidney Paget's illustration. The acting is excellent, every actor expressing interest in what happens, and each one constantly thinking. Basil Rathbone IS Sherlock Holmes, in the same way Sean Connery was James Bond. As soon as he appears on screen, you believe that he has walked out of the pages of Conan Doyle's stories. Not only does he look just like the character, he acts just like him. He shows the constant thought of Holmes, and behaves in a cool manner, just as Holmes does. He and the story are what make this film, just as all adaptations of Sherlock Holmes should. A+

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

First Rathbone & Bruce Entry.

6/10
Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
17 November 2013

Sidney Lanfield directed this film adaptation of the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel that stars Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor John Watson. Here, the plot involves a murder plot being planned against the heir(played by Richard Greene) of the Baskerville estate, an American hoping to come into his inheritance, but someone else has plans to usurp his title, involving a local legend about a huge hound that has cursed the family for generations. Is the supernatural at work, or is it of human origin? Good cast, especially Basil Rathbone, though muddled story and lack of a music score hurt it. The novel was much superior, but this version is acceptable.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The most classic film of this detective duo

Author: psagray from Spain
27 January 2013

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 efficiently Holmes-Watson.

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.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Holmes & Watson: The Moor the Deadlier

Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida
25 January 2013

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)

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

When a nobleman is threatened by a family curse on his newly inherited estate, detective Holmes is hired to investigate

7/10
Author: ma-cortes
17 January 2013

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 , vicious beast.

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 .

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

10/10
Author: SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain from United Kingdom
29 December 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Those were the days. When a film franchise could churn out 14 movies in just 7 years. I'm not one for quality over quantity, but with the talent on show here you can easily appreciate the fine workmanship. Hound of the Baskervilles sees Rathbone and Bruce as Holmes and Watson. What I really like about this movie, is that it doesn't bog us down with origins. It assumes we know these characters, which of course, we all do. This allows for a well paced 80 minutes, and a story that kicks off straight away. Holmes is asked to help protect a young man who is coming to inherit Baskerville manor. It's situated on the moors, which are beautifully recreated here. Each rock seems to tell its own horror story. The fog that continuously sweeps over the moors is dark and ominous. Lanfield allows visuals to create the suspense instead of intrusive musical cues. Two scenes stood out for me, when a gun is pointed from a carriage, and as Watson watched his door slowly open. These days, each of these would be laced with faster cuts and loud screeching violins. No such misfortune here. The performances are also strong. Rathbone is more of a supporting character here, which actually works. It emphasises Holmes attempts at being overlooked. He is more of a background detective that still pulls the strings. When he is on screen Rathbone plays him without pretension, obnoxiousness, or arrogance. He is a very smart man, but not super-human. Bruce is a wonderful Watson, that comes off as Holmes' equal, even if he doesn't have quite the logistical thinking of Holmes. They are supported why a wonderful cast, that do their best to make themselves both suspicious and innocent. Each one seems to have a specific secret, but until the last moments we are unaware of any real motive. The final moments are most exciting, with some exceptional dog training making for a really tense fight. When such an old film even has great make-up, it's clear that we have a real gem on our hands. A classic story told with restraint and style.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The best Holmes before becoming clichéd

7/10
Author: vincentlynch-moonoi from United States
20 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce became rather predictable and clichéd over time (though, as far as I'm concerned, so much better than the recent iteration starring Robert Downey, Jr.). But this first Holmes film with Rathbone and Bruce was rather delicious.

What's rich about this film is its cast.

Rathbone, in most films second-banana and bad guy, is for once the ultimate clever good guy, and he plays the role well. For many, he will always be the quintessential Sherlock Holmes.

Nigel Bruce is delightful here, and because Holmes seems to remain in London for so long, you might say that Bruce has the lead here for quite a while, though he is relegated to second place whenever Holmes is present. I've always felt rather sorry for Bruce...often typecast as a bit of a dolt, but here he seems more robust.

Richard Greene is a fine co-star playing the son of the original victim of the plot. I've rather enjoyed him in various films, though he never quite broke through...and I'm not sure why.

Of course, the one question I have is why all these people are always wandering all over the foggy and spooky moors? Out for a good hike -- usually in the dark -- amongst the quicksand quagmires? Particularly when the climax approaches and Richard Greene's character decides to walk home from a dinner party -- across the moors -- because it's such a delightful night...in the dense fog! When he is attacked by the hound, even though you know Holmes will save him, it's quite intense. This film is handled well, a good plot, great atmospherics,and enough clues that are cleverly brought up later by Holmes (and sometimes accidentally by Watson). It's all good fun and rather enjoyable.

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