The Hound of the Baskervilles

( 6 )

Overview

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) is surely the only movie directed by Sidney Lanfield that is ever likely to get the kind of deluxe treatment that it has been accorded on this DVD from MPI. Far and away the director's best movie, it still stands up well 60-plus years later, despite some flaws in its structure and some mild flatness to the direction. The new transfer (full-frame, of course, i.e. 1.33:1) brings out the virtues of the handsome 20th Century Fox production and the darkly atmospheric cinematography...
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Overview

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) is surely the only movie directed by Sidney Lanfield that is ever likely to get the kind of deluxe treatment that it has been accorded on this DVD from MPI. Far and away the director's best movie, it still stands up well 60-plus years later, despite some flaws in its structure and some mild flatness to the direction. The new transfer (full-frame, of course, i.e. 1.33:1) brings out the virtues of the handsome 20th Century Fox production and the darkly atmospheric cinematography by J. Peverell Marley (as captured here, it's worth the price of the disc). The movie is enhanced by the presence of a commentary track by David Stuart Davies, a noted Holmes scholar and enthusiast, who walks us through the movie in his droll, British way, very different from the boundless enthusiasm displayed by Richard Valley in his commentary on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (a DVD release which coincided with this film's issue). Davies is a little less attuned to the film's production than Valley, and closer to the literary side, which is fascinating in itself. He doesn't really slight the movie, as a subject, so much as start from the literary side; he does delve deeply into the layers and currents rippling through the movie. In addition to the commentary track, the movie is supported by a montage of still art and promotional and advertising materials set to music, and there are three reissue trailers, for Dressed to Kill, The House of Fear, and The Pearl of Death. None looks or sounds in terribly good shape, but all are fun to watch. The 13 chapters easily support and enhance the 80-minute movie. The disc opens up automatically to the multi-layered menu, which is a little bit harder to move around in, between the movie and the bonus features, than it needed to be.
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Special Features

Audio commentary with David Stuart Davies; Selected theatrical trailers; Production notes by Richard Valley; Photo gallery
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The first of the long and successful series of Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films, The Hound of the Baskervilles is smashing good fun for Holmes enthusiasts and fans of the detective thriller genre. Set in the appropriately spooky moors, Hound is an engaging adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle original -- respectful but not slavish, and unafraid to make changes to make the film more interesting cinematically. True, it has some of the same flaws that are part and parcel of any Holmes film, the kind of things that drive some people up the wall -- such as how Holmes can so cavalierly play fast and loose with a man's life by withholding information from him. But most people are willing to accept these conventions as part of the genre and necessary to build the appropriate tension and suspense. Besides, director Sidney Lanfield keeps things moving at such a sprightly (yet never hurried) pace that there's little time to worry about such matters. Best of all, Hound gives the audience Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, who, though in their first outing as Holmes and Watson, are already in very fine form. Rathbone is cerebral yet playful, a Holmes who clearly relishes his job and is brought to life by the thrill of the chase but who also recognizes the stakes of the games he plays. Bruce manages to make Watson appropriately befuddled without becoming a subject fit for mockery; there is clearly a brain in him, it just can't compare with that of Holmes. There's also fine support from Richard Greene, Lionel Atwill, and Wendy Barrie, and a characteristically odd turn from John Carradine, all adding up to a very good time indeed.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/27/2004
  • UPC: 030306755199
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mpi Home Video
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 1:20:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,903

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Greene Sir Henry Baskerville
Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes
Nigel Bruce Dr. Watson
Lionel Atwill James Mortimer, M.D.
John Carradine Barryman
Wendy Barrie Beryl Stapleton
Barlowe Borland Frankland
Beryl Mercer Mrs. Jenifer Mortimer
Morton Lowry John Stapleton
Ralph Forbes Sir Hugo Baskerville
E.E. Clive Cabby
Eily Malyon Mrs. Barryman
Nigel de Brulier Convict
Mary Gordon Mrs. Hudson
Peter Willes Roderick
Ivan Simpson Shepherd
Ian MacLaren Sir Charles
John Burton Bruce
Denis Green Jon
Evan Thomas Edwin
Lionel Pape Coroner
Harry Cording
Technical Credits
Sidney Lanfield Director
Richard Day Art Director
W.D. Flick Sound/Sound Designer
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Gene Markey Associate Producer
J. Peverell Marley Cinematographer
Cyril Mockridge Musical Direction/Supervision
Ernest Pascal Screenwriter
Hans Peters Art Director
Robert L. Simpson Editor
Gwen Wakeling Costumes/Costume Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening [1:19]
2. Murder at the Baskervilles [2:37]
3. The Legend of the Hound [9:06]
4. Heir of the Dog [9:36]
5. What the Butler Saw [9:22]
6. The Great Grimpen Mire [4:26]
7. Despoiler of Graves [7:12]
8. The Mysterious Stranger [9:34]
9. Death on the Moor [3:59]
10. Family Ties [5:02]
11. His Last Bow-Wow [9:06]
12. Trapped! [7:44]
13. End Credits [:34]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selection
   Bonus Material
      Audio Commentary With David Stuart Davies: On
      Audio Commentary With David Stuart Davies: Off
      Photo Gallery/Original Theatrical Poster
      Selected Theatrical Trailers
   Subtitles: On
   Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Watson, The Needle!

    One of only two Rathbone Holmes movies set in their proper (Victorian) era. When I was young, you generally couldn't see this film on TV due to the last line of the script (see the title of this review).

    This version of the classic tale is quite good, although it doesn't stick to the original as tightly as it might have. However, the visuals are quite good. The sets of the moor alone being worth the price of admission.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Excellent for the Holmes fan in Basil Rathbone,Nigel Bruce series of films.

    In my opinion these films by Rathbone and Bruce are the definitive Holmes and Watson. The atmosphere of these films lend to their suspense, terror and the criminal element. Holmes is a master of disguise criminal deduction
    along with his trusty Watson nabbing the criminal and them getting their due.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    first of 14 films

    This first of the Basil Rathbone films as Sherlock Holmes is excellant. The movie does a little varation from the book when it comes to the ending. But I think the ending is done quite well, it is a kinder happer ending. The film quality and sound are very good

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Hound of the Best..ervilles

    This film is probably the best in the series..and one of two portrayed in victorian times. The acting,from Morton Lowry, Wendy Barrie on up, is top notch. Rathbone as Holmes is more than elementary in his performance..Bruce as the affable Watson is much better with less bumbling buffoonery and a stricter sense of character. Later pair up versions of Cushing/Lee..Plummer/Mason..look good and maybe truer in style,but this Fox duo is the best. The atmosphere, lost in the Brett version, is so thick you can barely bite through with cannine teeth...really gives this film it's feel..probably due to being shot in B/W.. and looks similar to a Universal melodrama. I particularly like the less-is-best idea of a background score...a quiet stillness on a fog shrouded moor with the howl of the hound in the distance. Film directors could learn much from Lanfield's vision, that gives you a sense of murky eerieness, at the same time a warm(at times uncomfortable) glow..even after repeated viewings...and whatever happened to Richard Greene? who gives one of the best performances of Sir Henry I have ever seen. This is gothic fun all the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Who is Sherlock Holmes?

    Basil Rathbone as Holmes is stictly boo-yeah! Pick up all the UCLA, 35mm remastered dvds released by MPI, they're the best!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews