The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) Poster

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Excellent adaptation
tamstrat19 April 2005
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!!!
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The film that introduced Basil Rathbone in the part of Sherlock Holmes…
Nazi_Fighter_David17 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
To select just one representative Sherlock Holmes film from the hundred or so made since Sherlock Holmes Baffled is a virtual impossibility, especially as no one actor (including such famous talents as John Barrymore, Clive Brook and Raymond Massey) has yet managed to successfully transfer the true Holmesian character to the screen… But if one has to be singled out probably the best choice would be the 1939 version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," the most famous of all Conan Doyle's long novels and the film that introduced Basil Rathbone in the part of Sherlock Holmes…

Although no less a critic than Graham Greene found Rathbone unacceptable, complaining of his good humor and general air of refreshing health, the tall, thin British born actor is still the man most people associate with the role… He played in 14 Holmes movies between 1939 and 1946, two "A" productions and twelve double features…

Set in the correct period, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" follows Conan Doyle closely including only one scene, a séance, not in the original story… Its opening sequence on a deserted moor with a man running in terror from the unseen beast and its climax with Holmes going out alone into the foggy night to track down the "Hell Hound" really catches the suspense and mystery of Conan Doyle's story…

The film is most impressive when it convincingly sketches in the streets and fashions of Edwardian London, a remarkable achievement when one considers that recreation of London and English settings has not been one of Hollywood's strongest points over the years…

The final curtain line makes it difficult to believe that the film was made in 1939 with all the restrictions and censorship of that period… References to Holmes' drug taking have rarely if ever been made in Holmes movies but in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" the great detective stalks out of the room calling to his ever faithful companion, "The needle, Watson, the needle."
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Rathbone and Bruce-The Definitive Holmes & Watson
babeth_jr29 March 2006
"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!
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first filmed adaptation of Conan Doyle's novel
disdressed1220 March 2009
this is the first filmed version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's'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 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
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This movie works on every level. Don't miss this film treat!
marxi12 February 2003
This film is a delight! Not only does the story unfold at a fine pace throughout the entire film, the atmosphere is wonderfully ominous in many scenes.

It has been so long since I have read any Sherlock Holmes books that I was able to watch the film without any preconceived notions of what to expect and this film is a near masterpiece. It works as a mystery, as a detective story, a suspense story, a buddy film, a romance, a drama and in places it is as about an effective of an horror film as I've seen lately.

For folks that complain that this movie isn't entirely faithful to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book it came from, I say, "So What?" Enjoy the book for what it is and do the same with the movie. Very rarely is a movie entirely faithful to an original book and usually for good reason. This movie stands on its own merits as a spectacular film.

Basil Rathbone brings Sherlock Holmes to life vividly. The working relationship between Holmes and Dr. Watson is so well fleshed out on film that it is fun to watch. Holmes disguises are nothing short of entertaining. The young Henry Baskerville is portrayed by a handsome young actor who has screen presence. The spooky "moors" and the Baskerville Estate become a presence just as if they were a character in the film. The entire array of characters introduced to us in this film were all well played and endlessly interesting to watch.

This movie is a must see for folks who like good movies. I give it a 9/10, and that may be a bit too low!
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The beginning of the Basil Rathbone 'Holmes' series
binapiraeus26 February 2014
"The Hound of the Baskervilles", arguably the most famous of all of Sherlock Holmes' cases, was filmed in 1939 - not for the first time, of course (there had already been at least five tries, most notably in 1932 with Robert Rendel), but probably in the most impressive way possible. And it was the first time that Basil Rathbone portrayed the world-famous sleuth from Baker Street - the beginning of a very successful, and very high-class film serial produced by 20th Century-Fox that would comprise all in all 15 movies over the next eight years.

And Rathbone certainly was an ideal choice for the role, both physically and regarding his (on-screen) image: very British, and slightly haughty, but still with a sense of humor - only most of the time at the expense of his friend and assistant, amiable Dr. Watson, who was wonderfully played by Nigel Bruce. In fact, many Sherlock Holmes fans regard Rathbone as THE personification of Holmes (only we mustn't forget Arthur Wontner, who had also played Holmes in five movies, and was at LEAST as close to Conan Doyle's original character, if not even a little bit more...).

Actually, the whole cast is superb: idyllically handsome young Richard Greene as Sir Henry Baskerville, the heir of the huge estate of the Baskervilles, whose father has died under mysterious circumstances in the moor recently, Lionel Atwill as the strange Dr. Mortimer, Wendy Barrie as beautiful Beryl, Morton Lowry as her young step-brother... And no less superb is the direction: foggy Dartmoor probably had never been photographed in such a uniquely creepy way before, providing a perfect background for the murderous ongoings that revolve around the old legend of a horrible hound that scares or bites people to death... But Sherlock Holmes, of course, has got another, much more reasonable theory!

The whole film is immensely suspenseful (with England around 1900 being marvelously recreated in every detail), but especially the dramatic climax in the end is REALLY made for strong nerves - a real, thrilling, classic MUST for every fan of the crime genre!
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"Mr. Holmes, you're the one man in all England who can help me."
bensonmum225 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Of the half dozen or so different takes on The Hound of the Baskervilles that I've seen, this one is my favorite - just barely edging out the Hammer film from 1959. Why? There are a number of reasons I could cite.

1. Acting – The 1939 version of the Hound of the Baskervilles has to have one of the strongest casts ever assembled for a Sherlock Holmes film. It's a veritable Who's Who of 1930s/40s horror/thriller stars. Basil Rathbone, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, Wendy Barrie, and Eily Malyon all give outstanding performances. Even E.E. Clive appears in a small but enjoyable role. And Nigel Bruce, whose bumbling Watson could really get on my nerves, gives one of his best performances as Holmes' sidekick.

2. Atmosphere – If there's something that filmmakers from the 1930s knew how to do and were especially adept at, its creating atmosphere. From the fog shrouded moors to the dangerous London streets, there's enough atmosphere in The Hound of the Baskervilles for two or three movies. The cinematography and lighting go along way to helping create this feeling. It's something that seems lost on many of today's filmmakers.

3. Direction – While nothing outstanding, Sidney Lanfield is nonetheless solid in the director's chair. One key is the pacing he gives to the film. The movie moves along quite nicely with very few moments that slow things down. Sure, this version of The Hound of the Baskervilles may veer away from the original source material, but it's for good reason. The film would have been too slow and, ultimately, quite dull had it stuck too closely to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work. I've read the book, but as much as I enjoy it, I realize changes have to be made for the screen.

While there are a number of other things I could mention in The Hound of the Baskervilles that appeal to me, I'll stop here before this thing gets out of hand. In the end, I've always found this a solid production and a very enjoyable film. I've got no problems rating it a 9/10.

Finally, one thing that has always seemed odd to me is the appeal of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Don't misunderstand, it's a good story. But I'm not sure I understand why it has been filmed more often than any other Sherlock Holmes story. Why would a plot that has its main character (Holmes in this case) disappear for about half the movie be the most famous and most often filmed story from the character's casebook? Like I said, it's just always seemed a bit odd to me.
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The ultimate pairing
emwolf24 April 2007
I recently re-watched this and am still amazed at how exciting, entertaining and fast-paced this movie is. Leonard Maltin's guide prefers the follow Adventures of Sherlock Holmes because of Rathbone's absence for much of the Hound's middle section. I, however, find that it only adds to the overall suspense of the picture.

Many people have downplayed the Rathbone/Bruce pairing primarily because of Bruce's bumbling and mumbling. In this first outing that is down to a minimum. His Watson, while maybe not the ladies man in Doyle's stories, is still a competent medical man, athletic if stocky and the perfect counterpoint to Rathbone's Holmes.

I did enjoy the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes episodes, but still prefer Rathbone and Bruce because of the remarkable chemistry between the two. I can see these people and believe they actually shared rooms together and liked each other enough to keep that arrangement for many years.

Supporting characters in Hound are noteworthy as well. Lionel Atwill is awesome as the mysterious Dr. Mortimer, and John Carradine is perfection as always.

Highly recommend watching this on a rainy evening. Make it a double feature with Son of Frankenstein for a Rathbone festival.
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The best version of a classic novel
ashtree10 March 2001
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.
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Rathbone's Introduction to the Ultimate Sherlock Holmes!!!
Evan Cyran3 June 2005
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".
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Best adaptation of a Book I've ever seen!!
brad57222 May 2006
I thought that this was the best adaptation of the book ever show on the big screen. I have seen the 1959 remake and didn't care for it as much. Basil Rathbone did an excellent job on playing Sherlock Holmes as did Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson. I have recommended this movie to many people over the years, since I first saw it after reading the book in 8th grade English. I couldn't believe just how much it followed the book to a "T". Maybe a very few variations from book to movie, but I have never seen another movie follow a book so closely. I am a stickler for detail this one had it all. I watch it at least once a year, and will keep on recommending it to people. For Mystery and Suspense lovers you have to try it I guarantee you will love it.
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An excellent take on the classic Doyle story
The_Void2 February 2005
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 audience's eyes!

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.
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" To find an answer, we ask questions, to find the truth, we continue . . . "
thinker169125 December 2009
There are many renditions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective in films. I suspect Peter Cushing's version is extremely good and very convincing. But for me the very best version is the original and for that you must see the 1939 offering. The movie has the same title as the book and called " The Hound of The Baskervilles. " In the legendary story, we have our hero Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) being requested by Dr. Mortimer, a friend of Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene) if he would investigate the strange death of Sir Charles, who was viciously mutilated by an enormous killer hound. With his trusted friend Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) the great detective sets out to learn if the hound from hell really exists and why Sir Henry is in danger. With John Carradine, Wendy Barrie and Lionel Atwill in the cast, this superb original is the very first of many sequels. Each has the foggy, mysterious atmosphere which made the address on Baker Street synonymous with the world's greatest detective. This is an striking example, when asked about Basil Rathbone's superior legacy who is better remembered for villains than good guys. Excellent Classic film ! ****
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The classic adaptation
Stanley Strangelove4 September 2005
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.
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The Game's Afoot
Ron Oliver8 July 2004
The world's most famous amateur detective tracks THE HOUND OF 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).
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way more than elementary
Lee Eisenberg10 September 2014
The first Sherlock Holmes movie starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce is one of the most impressive things ever put on screen. It turns out that this was also the first Sherlock Holmes movie set in the Victorian era, as previous cinematic adaptations - even a series starring Arthur Wontner made a few years before this one - had updated the setting to later eras.

The moors are as much of a character as any of the people (or the hound). The eerie, foggy environs are the perfect place for a mystery. I understand that the Sherlock Holmes books helped revolutionize criminology, due to Holmes's methods of solving the cases. I haven't read any of the books, although I've seen "Young Sherlock Holmes" and the recent movies starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. There's no doubt that "The Hound of the Baskervilles" has held up very well over the years. I hope to see the rest of the Rathbone-Bruce series.

So how about regaling us with the violin?
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an old favorite...creative and unusual stories...
MarieGabrielle25 April 2011
Remember watching this at grandmother's house, along with other mysteries. This film is often shown during the holidays on TCM and last Christmas (along with the new Sherlock Holmes release with Robert Downey, Jr.) was a festival on TCM classics. Introduced by Ben Mankiewicz.

Excellent film complete with dark foggy moors, moor ponies getting trapped on the heath, a savage beast-dog and John Carradine as a very sinister houseman.

Holmes shows up at the Devonshire estate after Watson has already been received as a guest. There is a wonderful scene where he pretends to be a denizen of the moor, and an old, odd transient man, wandering the heath. Trying to peddle his zither and fuss-el(dog whistle) Basil Rathbone was such a talented character actor. It is a shame we don't really have anyone of his caliber, perhaps in theater , yes, but not film. Films like this are a gem and worth buying the collection for a cold winter's night. Highly recommended and good suspense for children. 10/10.
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Heir of the Dog.
Robert J. Maxwell12 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For Holmesians, I've given this an eight. For everyone else it's a seven. It's the best known of Conan-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, or at least it's the one that's shown up most often on the screen. It's reasonably faithful to the novella; it has good production values; and it represents the first appearance of Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson.

Ernest Pascal adapted the story to the screen and did a reasonably good job. He swept a couple of incidents and characters under the rug, true, and he turned some obviously harmless people of the story, such as Dr. Mortimer, into sometimes sinister characters to act as red herrings. Presumably the rearrangement was done to get rid of secondary characters such as Miss Linney or whatever her name was in order to save time. (At 80 minutes, it's a rather short main feature.) But then why stick in a scene with a séance that goes nowhere and adds nothing? The writer must have hoped it would quicken the tempo of the film. That was Pascal's wager, but I'm not sure it was a such a brilliant move. Changed, too, is the relationship between Stapleton (Morton Lowery) and Beryl (Wendy Barrie). In the film, she's Stapleton's unwitting step-sister. In the novel she's Stapelton's reluctant but knowing accomplice. She's the one who writes Sir Henry a warning note when he arrives in London to claim his estate. Making her an innocent leaves unanswered the question of who, then, wrote the warning note. Not that this would make any viewer wince. The pacing is sufficiently hurried that by the climax, the warning note has been long forgotten. And Pascal has included a final exit line that is the only reference to cocaine that I can remember in a Sherlock Holmes movie. "Watson -- the needle!" I wonder how it got past the board of review. Maybe the censors hadn't read the stories. Maybe the producers passed the line off as an allusion to Holmes' being a diabetic or being secretly into knitting.

Nothing was shot on location. It's all studio back lot and sound stage. This was standard practice at the time. The Magnificently Collosally Stupendiferous "Gone With the Wind", released the same year, was also studio bound. (I'm glad they discovered location shooting in time for "Lawrence of Arabia.") But in this case the moors of Devonshire, great Gothic swamps punctuated by skeletal black trees and lumpy papier-maché rocks, all shrouded in studio smoke, suggest almost a stylized reality rather than a cheap set. They're quite well done. The only distracting feature is that the outdoor scenes SOUND as if they were shot indoors because of the acoustic liveliness of the sets. You hear an echo on a desolate plain. There actually is a moor near Dartmoor, with clumsily arranged piles of rocks surrounded by a mire. There still are moor ponies, rehistoric remains, and abandoned tin mines. The set decorators did a good job.

Basil Rathbone injects some animation into the character of Holmes, his being new to the role and all that. In a few years the franchise would be moved to Universal Studios, updated, mixed up, and Holmes would turn almost wooden, while Nigel Bruce would sometimes become a buffoon, which he is not here. There's no denying that Rathbone was a very good Sherlock Holmes, probably the best. Jeremy Brett in the TV series was more nuanced but not as masterful, nor as tall, and he didn't LOOK like the Sidney Paget illustrations that went with the original stories in Strand Magazine. On the other hand, Arthur Wontner may have LOOKED more like Paget's drawings but he couldn't act.

This is likely to be as good a Sherlock Holmes story as we're liable to get. It's a little clumsy but it's exciting, suspenseful, and well acted. Besides all that, how can you not see it? Holmes is an icon of vernacular culture and this shows him at his best. Oh -- the puckish title for this comment, "Heir of the Dog"? I stole it from the episode list on the DVD. (One less item for the confessional.)
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First in a long-running series
Leofwine_draca13 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES is the first in an American-made series of Holmes films starring the inimitable Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson, here enmeshed in Holmes's most famous case. Although the film suffers slightly from its familiarity - it's the most-filmed Holmes novel after all - I found it delightfully paced and surprisingly modern in feel, far from the slightly fusty feel you'd expect from a film of the age.

The film is convincingly shot in Hollywood, with atmospheric, fog-enshrouded sets and a realistic titular beast that doesn't disappoint when it shows up. Rathbone gives an effortless turn as Holmes while Bruce is slightly wiser here than he would become in later instalments in which the comic relief was enhanced. The exemplary supporting cast includes Lionel Atwill and John Carradine, two actors famed for their horror roles, and indeed this does feel like a horror movie throughout in the best old-fashioned Gothic sense.
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The original version & first time with Rathbone & Bruce as famous due.
Jay Harris16 June 2010
Warning: 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)
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Classy, chilling and atmospheric-pretty darn impressive adaptation of a great book
TheLittleSongbird31 January 2010
The book is truly great, compelling and terrifying all at once. This 1939 film adaptation stayed true to the spirit of the book, if not word from word, and on its own it is classy, chilling and atmospheric. The cinematography is superb, and the moor scenery makes up the suitably macabre atmosphere. Throw in some great acting, haunting music score and a truly terrifying hound you have a near perfect adaptation. What let it down for me though was the last five or so minutes, of course I loved the clever reference to Holmes's drug addiction (though people may think Holmes had taken up sewing), but the revelation of the culprit was too rushed for me.

However, apart from that, this is extremely good stuff. The script had a strong sense of intelligence, and the climatic scenes with the hound itself were suspenseful and chilling to say the least. The acting is of high calibre, while I personally think Jeremy Brett is the definitive Holmes, Basil Rathbone is absolutely superb here. He looks as though he is having a great time, making Holmes witty, dynamic and sophisticated, and that was a sheer delight to see. Nigel Bruce while not as good as Rathbone, makes a fine Dr Watson. Out of the stellar supporting cast, John Carradine and Morton Lowry stood out as Barryman and Stapleton, while Lionel Attwill's Dr Mortimer is also effective. Also as Sir Henry Baskerville, Richard Greene has the screen presence and charm to make himself memorable. All in all, almost perfect, nevertheless a classy and atmospheric adaptation of a great book. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Thrilling and Exciting! One of the Greatest Films of All Time!
lawrence_elliott18 April 2007
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 Victorian period piece worth owning and playing over and over 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". I don't think this kind of masterful work can be achieved by chance but in this case perhaps, good luck, fate, 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 truly a haunting and mysterious drama that will frighten and engage its audience while providing a lasting imprint on memory. The séance scene is an example of the times giving a quality of supernatural mystery attributed to most haunting ghost stories.

See it, buy it, just get your hands on this one and enjoy. A great story that is beautifully rendered here on celluloid, truthfully and honestly, the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have wanted it.
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A Classic
jhboswell10 July 2006
Well, like the man says, it don't get much better than this. Nearly true to Doyle's story, giving way to good rip-roaring cinematic excitement, it is just great to be swept in to the thrill of the chase here. This film was banned for many years after its first release because of that dumb last line, and I was there in the '70's when it was seen again. Now, on the great DVD from MPI, it's ours any time we want it.

What classic acting! What a fantastic story! This film began a great series in the cinematic Holmes canon. It is paced well, and has great atmosphere.

And, yes, it really does "sound like the cry of a gigantic hound!"
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Watson Plays It Straight In This Series Opener
ccthemovieman-128 October 2006
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 8-star rating!

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.
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