Today! Because here’s something an old squire like you could use, sir – a whistle for calling your sheepdog –
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
Directed by Sidney Lanfield
Starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Richard Greene, Wendy Barrie, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, E.E. Clive, Barlowe Borland, Beryl Mercer, Morton Lowry, Ralph Forbes, Mary Gordon
The Hound of the Baskervilles was the first and one of the best films in the long-running 20th Century Fox/Universal Sherlock Holmes series of the ’30s/’40s starring Rathbone and Bruce, and kicks off our little mini-marathon of these movies over the next year. A lot of these movies don’t really hold up – they were cranking them out two or three a year for the better part of the next decade, so naturally some weren’t going to be stellar – but they’re all at least pretty watchable due to the excellent work of the leads and their specific takes on the iconic roles.
Baskervilles is particularly interesting for a few reasons. While many of the movies are based on Doyle stories, most needed massive alterations and changes to make the screen – not so much here, as Baskervilles is also one of the rare book-length Doyle tales. Also, Sherlock is off-screen for a large portion of the middle of the film – leaving the heavy lifting to Watson, and the lead-billed, nominal star of the movie, Richard Greene as Henry Baskerville (Greene is probably best known for his work as TV’s Robin Hood in the 1950’s for ITV/CBS). And as a fun fact, this is the only Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock film to reference in any way Holmes’ cocaine use, a topic so eagerly covered in the very solid Seven-Per-Cent Solution with Nicol Williamson some years later.
It’s also got Robert Duvall as Watson and Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud! Not pictured – Olivier himself as Moriarty!