Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock HolmesImage via Wikipedia
Everyone wears tweeds, except the butler.  When you are watching The Hound of the Baskervilles, you feel like a stinker for not wearing tweeds too.  So, if you happen to have tweeds, I would suggest donning them before you pop this one in.  

We had a cloudy night and electrical storms: the perfect setup for a gothic horror film that brings to life one of Sherlock Holmes' most famous mysteries.

I have my husband pick out the movies most of the time because it prevents me from only blogging about my favorites, and since he's never seen most of them, it keeps the selection more spontaneous and objective.  This time it came down to The Hound, Stars and Stripes Forever, and The Mark of Zorro, which I eliminated because I recently reviewed an Errol Flynn film.  

When my husband found out that this version of The Hound stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, he, being a Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fan, decided on it.  This particular production was a much anticipated film in 1959.  The first major depiction of Holmes onscreen since Basil Rathbone retired in the 40s, this Hammer Film Productions feature film dishes up "Ten times the terror in Technicolor!"  

The Basics
Directed by Terrence Fisher and starring Cushing and Lee as Sherlock Holmes and Sir Henry Baskerville, with Andre Morell as Watson, the film also featured Marla Landi, David Oxley, Francis de Wolff, and Miles Malleson.  A British production, The Hound was the first Sherlock Holmes film to be shot in color, but it is said that because audiences were used to getting gruesome monsters in Hammer films, they snubbed The Hound for its lack of them.  

Runs at 87 minutes.  Made in 1959.

The Plot
If you have read the book and can remember it, you won't be held in suspense by either the movie or my review of it.  I have read the book and seen the movie several times, but I still couldn't remember what was going to happen, so it was fun for me.  

The movie starts with Dr. Mortimer, country doctor and family friend of the Baskervilles, soliciting the services of Sherlock Holmes and Watson.  Legend has it that there is a curse on the Baskervilles going back to Sir Hugo Baskerville, a singularly evil and diabolical man.
After hunting a poor farm girl with a pack of hounds, Sir Hugo murdered her in cold blood on the moor, then promptly had his throat torn out by a beast that continued to haunt the moor at night.  

When Sir Charles Baskerville dies in the same fashion as his ancestor, alone on the moor, a look of terror stricken across his face, Holmes is called onto the case to solve the mystery of the hound and save the life of the last remaining Baskerville.  

Haunted rooms, a tarantula (of which Christopher Lee was really afraid), pits of mire, a savage hound, and even eerily glowing ruins abound.  Along the way Holmes meets a lovably bumbling bishop (Malleson), an escaped convict, and a man with webbed fingers.  Attempted murder greets him around one corner, and Watson makes an untimely acquaintance with the mire on their way to dramatically and climatically solving the mystery of The Hound of the Baskervilles. 

  • Cushing, Lee, and Morell are good.  Malleson is even better.
  • The opening sequence is quite frightening (this depicts the diabolical evil of Sir Hugo, which is quite terrible).  Probably not suited for young children.
  • There are some twists and turns to keep you guessing.
  • There is a scary, haunted room at the end of the hall.
  • The Hound is messed up looking.  You get to see him at the end.
  • Some loose ends are tied in nicely at the conclusion.
  • Some loose ends are not tied in nicely at the end.  We never find out, for instance if there are any consequences for one particular character who was involved in attempted murder, and we never really knew what his/her motivation was in the first place. 
  • There are some bad attempts at romance that come off as being kind of strange.  I have no idea if this is attributable to the film's British origins. 
  • Somebody (Landi) has an accent that sounds a little weird to me. 
  • One word: really thick ketchup.  And by "word" I mean "noun".  
I don't know if I would call The Hound of the Baskervilles the best Sherlock Holmes film ever made.  As I add reviews of other Holmes films it will be easier to make a comparison.  I do think, however, that this a good way to spend an evening and an even better way to gain appreciation for tweeds.  Go Sherlock!

Where to get it

Amazon has this film on DVD for $11.99.  
Order here: The Hound of the Baskervilles

It is available on Netflix.

Try your local library.  You never know what you might find!

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Sarah said...

Thanks for all of these- I love reading them and my mom and I have begun searching through the libraries and video stores! Keep up the good work gorgeous!

jillybean said...

Bryan says "I haven't seen that in a long time. Let's put it in our Netflix queue!" ☺

Priscilla Racke said...

*So excited to hear these things!*
Love you guys!
Say hi to Bryan for me!

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