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The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This is a completely new take on Sherlock Holmes. Instead of making Watson the buffoon, they do it with Holmes. Even though Matt Frewer might be a good Holmes as far as looks go, but he plays him in such an exaggerated way, gesturing wildly, rolling the eyes, jumping back and forward like a complete nutcase, that I found that this movie’s only saving grace is that you see Holmes much less than in other versions.  Even though the other actors are not bad at  all I just couldn’t get over the fact that Holmes was a complete loonie.

In the hotel room scene where Holmes shows his excellent deducting skills with the anonymous letter and “The Times” Watson keeps on smiling benevolently as if his favourite pet monkey had just done some extraordinary performance. Their relationship was rather strange and I could not imagine that those two are friends. Holmes would have fit perfectly into a Black Adder episode as the idiot friend of Black Adder, I especially can envisage him as Prince George who was so splendidly brought to life by Hugh Laurie.

Really, a completely disastrous Holmes adaptation, thanks to Matt Frewer. The first 4 minutes should give you a good idea. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb.com

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Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking

“The case of the silk stocking” is an uncharacteristic Sherlock Holmes movie with a newly written story and not based on any book by Conan Doyle. A serial killer with a fetish goes about and kills daughters of the high society. Lovely settings, foggy atmosphere and it features my favourite Watson. However, the best asset is Rupert Everett. He plays Holmes as a rather bored detective (no display of astounding deduction skills here) and I loved his calm manner. Nothing of the jumpy, bipolar Jeremy Brett, but rather a haunted drug addict with issues. Plus, Rupert Everett is pure eye candy. Very much looking like Holmes, and oh, so handsome. He could just stand there and not do anything and I would gush about him.

I wish they would remake every single Holmes episode out there with him. He is the perfect Sherlock Holmes in every way.

The case of the silk stocking on imdb

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The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This BBC production is so far (and I think my opinion won’t change anytime soon) my favourite version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. Not sure about the “terrifying new adaption” bit on the cover but – terrifying or not – it was just brilliant.

Richard Roxburgh is a great Sherlock Holmes, a lot grittier than the previous bunch, but what totally made the film for me was Dr. Watson. I loved loved him. He is played by Ian Hart, a name I was not familiar with until I checked and noticed that he played Professor Quirrell in the first Harry Potter movie.

Holmes was as smart as ever, but not nearly as showing off and capricious as we have known him so far. There is no famous deduction scene where he conjures Dr. Mortimer’s whole life and personality from a bloody walking stick and – now that I come to think of it – Mortimer hasn’t even got a dog. They changed a lot of other things as well: there is a séance with Dr. Mortimer’s wife – no doubt an homage to the Basil Rathbone version -, the convict has a violent meeting with Sir Henry in the kitchen and there is a merry Christmas party at Baskerville Hall.

Watson does an autopsy and is generally more able and involved than in earlier movies. He isn’t the usual bumbling idiot, but tough and focused. The relationship between him and Holmes was a bit different, at times he was quite pissed off at Holmes, in the end Holmes lost his trust, and in general their interaction seemed a bit cooler than normally, but I liked that.
I immediately checked whether there is another movie with Ian Hart as Watson and there is one, “Sherlock Holmes and the case of the silk stocking” – unfortunately not with Richard Roxburgh, but with Rupert Everett as Holmes. Hm, maybe not a bad choice. I will definitely have to watch that one, even though there are no evil dogs involved.

Speaking of the dog. The Baskerville dog here is a true computer generated creature from hell, quite different from the usual Great Dane or whatever it is they are using. And the accompanying villain is a great one as well, superbly played by Richard E. Grant.

If you like Baskerville movies and are not a complete stickler for 100% adaptations you just have to watch it. And if you are, you should have a look as well, it might change your mind.

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I have read on Amazon that the German edition is an abridged one with a few scenes missing. What a shame! But after watching it I ordered a DVD from the UK to get the full monty.

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb

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Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse (1983–cartoon)

Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville curse

I got this version to watch together with my kids. Apart from the rather frightful appearance of the dog at some points it is perfectly suitable for the whole family and rather fun to watch.

The quality of the animation, sound and general appearance is a little outdated, but this does not lessen the enjoyment. The plot is very true to the original story even though some scenes seemed a bit cut short to me. The length is only 75 minutes, so I suppose they had to leave out some dialogue. Quite acceptable, considering that in some other versions that I watched the dialogue goes on endlessly about inconsequentialities. In spite of these cuts a few things were explained that were not mentioned in other movies, like for example how Holmes tracked Stapleton’s past and found out about his marriage. My boys followed it easily and It was perfect and spooky/cosy entertainment.

I watched it dubbed in German, so can’t comment on the original voices, but Holmes’ voice is Peter O’Toole which should give a bit of additional flair to the whole experience.

Side note: I read one very unfavourable user comment about this cartoon on imdb, but that reviewer claims that the Basil Rathbone version is “excellent” – which says it all.

Sherlock Holmes and the Baskerville Curse on imdb.

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

This is a Hammer Production which is evident in the scenery, cast and melodramatic plot. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you like the ambience and general feel of those 50s and 60s B-movies.

Apart from the opening scene for which the outdoor scenes have been actually filmed outdoors (footage from another movie that came in handy?) everything is filmed in the studio. The impression that those buildings, moors and paths have been used in many other films is not completely absurd. John, who does know the odd Hammer movie, swears that he has seen the same buildings in “The Devil-Ship Pirates”, and the path along the moors bears a striking resemblance to a walkway in Frankenstein. Oh, well, it all adds to the flair.

The choice of contract actors made it necessary to change the characters in the movie quite a bit. Amiable Dr Mortimer is now a condescending, lord-y prick who looks like he could play Rasputin at the drop of a hat and probably did. Naturalist Stapleton is a middle aged farmer with a webbed hand (the natural conclusion we have to draw here: webbed hand -> disfigurement -> evil), and the lamblike Beryl Stapleton is now a wild barefooted gypsy girl in an Esmeralda-like outfit who is running away through the heather whenever someone tries to speak to her. Mr Frankland now is a muddle-headed bishop who likes his sherry early and who also stands in for the entomologist part which is obviously not suitable for Stapleton in this constellation. 
All in all this is quite an eclectic cast even if it has little to do with the original.

Also it seems that the usual Hammer props had to come into play. A Hammer  film without huge spiders? I think not. What is easier to have one of the bishop’s/entomologist’s  tarantulas stolen and placed into Sir Henry’s boot at his London hotel?  As a consequence we get to enjoy a scene where the tarantula marches up Sir Henry’s sleeve, whose face is distorted with fear (a rare sight in Christopher Lee – see above cover), until Holmes rescues him with his stick and a fast move.

Every scene is underlined with a dramatic musical score that indicates impending doom every second. That is, except for the kissing scenes  which had a romantic undertone. Needless to say the kissing was quite arbitrary and came out of nowhere. Then again, running away from a man, stumbling in the moor (naturally, without sturdy shoes) and kissing one’s rescuer 30 seconds later is a sure method to induce love and passion.

This movie is not suitable to educate anyone on Sherlock Holmes but it is definitely entertaining in an involuntary way.

The Hound of the Baskervilles at imdb.

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

hound3

This movie is strange. I have no idea how a script writer can „adapt“ a book in a way that makes the story completely illogical and totally haphazard. Assuming that the audience doesn’t know the book, they must leave the cinema (or sofa) baffled in regards to how Sherlock Holmes found the culprit or even what exactly happened.

The whole movie was a sequence of unrelated scenes that did not build upon each other in any way. One especially strange example is the séance that takes place in Stapleton’s house (one of those changes to the original story that made no sense at all) with Mrs. Mortimer trying to call the dead Sir Baskerville. The suspense is at its (modest) peak, when suddenly we hear howling outside and Beryl Stapleton calls out in fright. The séance is being interrupted and literally that very second everybody gets up and leaves for home.

There are other changes to the story that are completely unnecessary or even nonsensical. At the beginning we have the famous scene where Holmes displays his deduction skills to his buffoon sidekick Dr. Watson by describing Dr. Mortimer from examining at his walking stick. Country doctor, walks on foot, has a dog. When Holmes later asks Dr. Mortimer about the dog the doctor answers he used to have a dog but it is dead. What does this mean? Why is the dog dead? Could the production not afford a live dog? Why not say the dog is at home with Dr. Mortimer’s wife? Or was it a false clue that is supposed to make us think that maybe the dog marks are from the evil hound and Dr. Mortimer is the culprit?

Another especially intriguing change is the relationship between Stapleton and his sister. When Holmes hears that Sir Henry Baskerville is going to marry Beryl in two days (Sir Henry moves fast) he makes a peculiar face as if to say “Beryl is marrying Baskerville? How can that be? She is already married!”. Somehow the script writer must have changed his ideas about that plot point because as it turns out later Beryl in fact IS Stapleton’s sister and the funny look on Holmes face was never explained.

At the end there is a poisoning scene where Holmes saves Sir Henry’s life which also leaves a lot to be desired. The timing is all wrong (Stapleton handing a poisoned medicine to Sir Henry equals the time that Holmes takes to walk across the moor at night) and Holmes deducts that a murder is going to take place out of nothing, NOTHING.

This is a travesty of the original story and only serves as a entertaining piece for an evening when you want to laugh yourself silly over the inaccuracies, illogicality and ridiculousness of the story. Not suitable for Conan Doyle fans and sticklers (like me).

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Reasons I watched this movie: I like the story. It is part of my Baskerville movie marathon.

Jeremy Brett plays Sherlock Holmes in a number of stories. It’s a whole series with most of the episodes about an hour long and a few full movie length. One of them is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

This version sticks closer to the book in many areas (for example there is no loud and obnoxious Lyons, Dr. Mortimer is of a more suitable age etc.), but then again it gives away the culprit at the very beginning. Whereas in the Ian Richardson version you see him but don’t necessarily recognize him as Stapleton (I assume you have read the book and don’t mind that spoiler), here you see him clearly from the start. I find that odd. Where is the mystery? True we don’t know the motive of the murderer, but we know who he is! What sort of detective story is it when the audience knows who the killer is from the start? That might be ok for a Lieutenant Columbo, but not for a Sherlock Holmes.

As for Holmes: I think that Jeremy Brett might be the better Holmes as far as his character is described in the book. He plays Holmes as eccentric and moody, sometimes overly excited, sometimes quiet, sometimes full of action and then again not. But exactly that bipolar behaviour got on my nerves, I very much prefer Ian Richardson who plays the part a bit toned down.

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb

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Movie: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983)

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Reasons I watched this movie: I love the story and decided to watch a series of Hound of the Baskervilles films.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes stories and for a good reason. It is full of suspense, there is an eerie dog, an American heir, the British upper class, the moor, a smart detective and plenty of fog. What else can a mystery reader ask for?

Ian Richardson is a wonderful Sherlock Holmes, he is exactly how I imagine him, and I really like his sidekick Watson in this movie, too. He has a wonderful scene in the village pub when Watson is asked by Lestrade why he came here and answers that he is here “for the sailing”. Splendid!

The rest of the cast is equally brilliant. With Denholm Elliott as Dr. Mortimer (slightly too old, but who cares), Martin Shaw as Sir Henry Baskerville and Brian Blessed as Lyons you can’t go wrong. A lot of the plot was changed for this movie which is somewhat annoying (especially because some of the changes  make not much sense to me), but it is more dramatic and exciting as the book, so I suppose I can forgive the changes; they make for a cosy popcorn & movie night on the sofa.

Watch a scene (beware of the glowing dog!)

The Hound of the Baskervilles on imdb