Movie Critique – The Hound of the Baskervilles

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Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A fine example of showing Holmes and Watson on screen to all the fans. A big thumbs up to the amazing stars who bring to life what Mr. Doyle had put into words a four decades ago.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1959 British gothic-mystery film based on the 1902 novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Directed by Terence Fisher; Produced by Anthony Hinds; film was released by United Artists; a Hammer Film Productions. The Screenplay was provided by Peter Bryan.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are called to The Baskerville Hall in Dartmoor to investigate the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville. The folks at the estate are haunted by a ghost hound that had killed Sir Charles' ancestor Sir Hugo, centuries ago. The saga to unravel the myth, curse and at the same time solve the mystery begins for our detective duo - Holmes and Watson. 

Peter Cushing is Sherlock Holmes and Andre Morell is Doctor Watson in this adaptation of the great detective's one of the cases. We get to see Sir Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskervilles in the film. Although the novel had been made to screen on both TV and film, this is the first adaptation though to be filmed in color. The other cast who are part of the film are Marla Landi, David Oxley, Francis de Wolf, and Miles Malleson among others. 

Nigel Bruce had portrayed Doctor Watson in both radio, TV and film adaptations of the novels for several years. However, what Morell did with the characterization was quite different. While Bruce made him a comical buffoon often coming out as a fool to everyone around them; Morell made him much more intelligent and an equal partner of Holmes. Something that I saw with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the British crime television series Sherlock that aired between 2010 and 2017. In that series, Freeman's Watson is an equal to Cumberbatch's Holmes.

Sir Christopher Lee makes a perfect Sir Henry Baskervilles. And did you know, he had a genuine fear for spiders, So it only amazes me that he did the scene involving the 8-legged insects without hesitation, although the fear was real in the scene. 

Peter Cushing came very close to the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes depicted by the illustrations in The Strand Magazine in which the original stories first appeared.

This film also marked the appearance of Holmes and Watson first time in 13 years, after they appeared on screen in 1946 in which Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce played the roles of Holmes and Watson respectively. The film was Dressed to Kill, the last of the 14 films they appeared together as the dynamic detective duo.

Incidentally the first film that Rathbone and Bruce did in that 14 film series was also The Hound of the Baskervilles released in 1939. Two decades later Cushing and Morell take up the mantle with the same story.

A fine example of showing Holmes and Watson on screen to all the fans. A big thumbs up to the amazing stars who bring to life what Mr. Doyle had put into words a four decades ago. Definitely a good representation of the wonderful author's books.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. The set for The Baskerville Hall was the same one that was used, with some changes, in the 1958 British gothic horror film Horror of Dracula aka Dracula; in which we see Sir Christopher Lee in the titular role and Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing. Some of the music was also composed by the same music director, James Bernard, in both films. 

b. Dracula was the first of the several Hammer movies that Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee worked together on. 

c. Sir Christopher Lee was part of five more Sherlock Holmes adaptations - 1962 Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace; 1970 The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes; 1991 Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady; 1992 Sherlock Holmes: Incident at Victoria Falls; and 1973 Orson Welles' Great Mysteries.

d. Peter Cushing also reprised his role as Sherlock Holmes in the 60s TV series Sherlock Holmes; the 1984 TV film Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death.

e. Morell and Cushing also appeared together in the BBC production in 1984. While Morell's wife Joan Greenwood appeared in the 1978 film version of the same novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. In the opening and closing credits, the order of John Le Mesurier and Ewen Solon's names are reversed.

b. When Dr. Watson is pulled out of the mire, he is covered with mud up to his shoulder. But the following scene where we see him getting of Stapleton's cart, his front jacket is almost clean.

c. The window in the Bishop's room is already cracked before the telescope hits it and breaks it further.

d. After Stapleton is shot, the dog starts to run past him instead of attacking him. We can see Stapleton pulling the dog onto him to make it look like he is being attacked.


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