The Hound of the Baskervilles


Action / Horror / Mystery / Thriller

IMDb Rating 7.6 10 8207


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John Carradine as Barryman
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson
Richard Greene as Sir Henry Baskerville

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Paul Kydd 6 / 10

The Hound of the Baskervilles *** (6/10)

USA 1939 English (B&W); Mystery (Twentieth Century Fox); 80 minutes (PG certificate)

Crew includes: Sidney Lanfield (Director); Ernest Pascal (Screenwriter, adapting Novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle); Darryl F. Zanuck (Producer)

Cast includes: Richard Greene, Basil Rathbone, Wendy Barrie, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, Barlowe Borland, Beryl Mercer, Morton Lowry, Ralph Forbes

A Victorian detective (Rathbone) and his assistant (Bruce) strive to disprove a family legend concerning a bloodthirsty hound, and prevent the "refined, cold-blooded murder" of the new country squire (Greene).

First Sherlock Holmes case for Rathbone and Bruce (billed second and fourth) is dated but classy, with an exciting climax on the fog-shrouded Devonshire moors.

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 9 / 10

The best Sherlock Holmes?

This initial entry in the Rathbone-Bruce series is often considered the best Holmes film ever made. For the first time in movie history, the Holmes narrative is not only kept correctly in period, but follows Doyle's original novel meticulously. Admittedly, there are minor changes and condensations, but some of these might well be considered improvements (such as the inclusion of a séance in order to introduce further suspects. As séance after all was a pretty popular pastime in the early 20th century, while Doyle himself dedicated the best part of his life to promoting Spiritism).

We experts can spot some of the sets as miniatures, but the English period atmosphere is superbly judged and created all the same. Peverell Marley's absolutely brilliant cinematography (why wasn't he nominated for a prestigious Hollywood award?) is a major asset-as are the sets, costumes, special effects and music score.

Best of all, of course, are the players. Basil Rathbone glides through his lines with wonderful celerity and is able to surprise us all with one of his delicious impersonations. As we might expect, he is truly more animated and fresh in this first study of what would become his most memorable role. Yes, oddly enough, Nigel Bruce has more footage than Rathbone and is in fact the real star of the movie. He makes the most of his opportunities too!

With the exception of hero, Richard Greene, the subsidiary cast also rates as a total delight. Greene is a bit wet, but Wendy Barrie, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine and company lend Rathbone and Bruce some lively, appealing support. It's not usually remarked, but Mary Gordon repeated her deftly endearing characterization of Mrs Hudson (Holmes' landlady at 221B Baker Street) in all subsequent entries in the Rathbone series in which the good woman appeared.

In short, this Hound of the Baskervilles is a triumph that loses nothing in atmosphere and dramatic intensity no matter how many times it is seen. Available on an excellent double DVD from Optimum with The Voice of Terror.

Reviewed by one-nine-eighty 7 / 10

The start of a great detective duo

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr Watson (Nigel Bruce) investigate the myth of the supernatural hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Henry Baskerville (Richard Greene) returns home to take up residence in the family estate on the moors of western England. Unfortunately a beast is set upon killing Sir Henry. It's up to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watsons to deduce who or what is trying to commit this murder most foul, and to prevent it.

This was the first time Rathbone and Watson had performed together as the detective duo, for me they are the go-to icons of the roles, and here they are brilliant. This isn't the typical bumbling portrayal of Dr Watson, this is something that the studios and Nigel Bruce evolved over time. Rathbone is as charming and engaging as ever, suave and solid as a lead. The film is only about 80 mins long and has a nicely enjoyable pace to it. There have been lots of versions of this Sir Athur Conan Doyle story, this for me is the best. The setting delivers an eerie atmosphere and is tastefully done, despite being shot in Hollywood. A great black and white film from the 1930's that never fails to fill a lazy Sunday afternoon with fun and nostalgia.

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