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The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) Poster

Trivia

In the original novel, and in all later film versions, the butler is named Barrymore. In the 1939 version, this had to be changed to Barryman because the famous Barrymore family was still acting in films.
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After being out of circulation for many years, partly because of the 1959 Hammer remake (The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)) 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 film was shown at its full 80-minute length, and newspaper and magazine articles commented on the fact that the line "Oh, Watson, the needle!", referring to Holmes' cocaine habit (and usually misquoted as "Quick, Watson, the needle!") was put back in after having been cut by the censors. As an added attraction, the studio added a rare sound film featurette which showed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books, talking about his creation.
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Lionel Atwill, who plays James Mortimer in the film, later played Prof. Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942).
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This was such a hit that Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce were hired to play Holmes and Watson on the radio series "The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." This radio series consisted of new Sherlock Holmes stories written by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green.
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The first Sherlock Holmes film of Basil Rathbone.
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Publicity materials referred to the dog who played the title character as "Chief". The dog's actual name was "Blitzen" but this was thought to sound too German.
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The first of 14 films based on Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. The two also made a gag appearance in the 1943 Olsen and Johnson comedy "Crazy House."
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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. Later interpretations would vary, but the character remained greater than literature's original enigma.
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Watson's revolver in this film is easily identifiable as a Colt Single Action Army, aka the Peacemaker, widely identified with the American "Wild West." However, over 5300 of these were sold in England through Colt's Pall Mall agent between 1874 and 1912, and were chambered in nearly every caliber approved by the British Army. Since officers (like Watson) purchased their own sidearms, this is, somewhat counter-intuitively, one of the more realistic choices made by a film maker of what Watson's service revolver might have actually been.
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The original title "The Hound of the Baskervilles" refers to a dog that terrorizes a family called "Baskerville". The German title "Der Hund Von Baskerville", a mistranslation, refers to a hound, which just lives in "Baskerville", a town, that does not play a role in the story.
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The date of the manuscript that Dr. Mortimer reads has been changed from the novel. In the novel, the manuscript dates from 1742, and in the film it dates from 1650.
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The film inspired Grateful Dead song "Dire Wolf".
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Beryl Mercer, who played the medium Jennifer Mortimer in the film, died less than three months after the film's domestic release and before its international release.
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Alfred L. Werker replaced Sidney Lanfield, who had replaced Irving Cummings as director.
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In 1975 Film Specialties, a small but respected distribution company acquired rights to the film and rereleased the film in selective cities including Portland, Seattle, New York, and San Francisco accompanied by a vintage Arthur Conan-Doyle Movietone interview and the Buster Keaton comedy, "Sherlock Jr."
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The impressive interior set for Baskerville Hall was subsequently recycled by Fox, most notably for their last Charlie Chan feature, "Castle in the Desert."
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At approximately 51 minutes into the movie you can hear Holmes play the first three notes of what will become Stairway to Heaven on the Lire for Watson.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

In the original story, it is discovered that Miss Stapleton is actually the wife of Stapleton, not his sister. This part of the story is ignored in the film.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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