Published On: Thu, Dec 26th, 2019

Great Sherlock Holmes Movies

In 1999, a group of Sherlockian scholars named The Hound of the Baskervilles, along with “The Speckled Band,” as the two greatest Sherlock Holmes stories written by Conan Doyle. The popularity of this story is reflected in the more than twenty movie and television versions of the tale that have been made to date. Ranking as one of the best movie versions is this The Hound of the Baskervilles from 1939 starring a British born actor trained in Shakespeare.

Basil Rathbone As Sherlock Holmes

When Twentieth-Century Fox decided to make this picture, it chose Basil Rathbone, best known previously for villain roles in movies such as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, to be its lead. It proved to be a wise choice. At 6-1, Rathbone nearly matched the height of the literary Holmes and his facial and other physical features strongly matched those described by Doyle.

Trained on the Shakespearean stage, Rathbone was also able to bring a staid, dignified sophistication to the role and would later go on to play the character in thirteen more films and a radio series. His portrayal of the legendary detective has arguably been matched only by Peter Cushing and Jeremy Brett, both of whom appeared in Hound versions in 1959 and 1988.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Nigel Bruce is featured as Dr. Watson who, unlike the later Universal Holmes series, is not portrayed as Holmes’s slow-witted partner and foil, but as a worthy friend. Other actors include: Richard Greene, who received top billing, as Henry Baskerville; Lionel Atwill as the red herring, Dr. Mortimer; Morton Lowry as John Stapleton; Wendy Barrie as his sister, Beryl; John Carradine as the mysterious butler, Barryman; and character actress Beryl Mercer as Mrs. Mortimer.

The story of a “supernatural” beast and the mysterious deaths attributed to it is well done and fast paced. For the most part, it faithfully follows the original story. Director Sidney Lanfield, working on Fox’s back lots, was able to realistically recreate a Victorian London and the bleak Devonshire countryside. Stark black and white photography, particularly of the desolate moors, help give the film an eerie feel, and the mysterious hound is believable.

Great Sherlock Holmes Movies

There are some aspects to the film that can be classified as minor quibbles. One or two characters have been added to the story and at least three who are in the original tale do not appear. There is a séance which is also not in the original, but which does add a supernatural feel to the film. The romantic subplot between Henry and Beryl Stapleton has a different conclusion.

Rathbone at 47 was at least a decade older than his literary counterpart at the time of the story. Bruce at 44 was closer in age to Watson (39) but looks much older. Lionel Atwill, also, is a much older, but more sinister, Dr. Mortimer. Greene, at 21, and Lowry, age 26, are definitely too young for their roles. Baskerville and Stapleton in the original story were in their mid-thirties.

About the Author

- I am an internet marketing expert with an experience of 8 years.My hobbies are SEO,Content services and reading ebooks.I am founder of SRJ News,Tech Preview and Daily Posts.

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