THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959)
Article #1532 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-25-2005
Posting Date: 10-22-2005
Directed by Terence Fisher
Featuring Peter Cushing, Andre Morell, Christopher Lee
Sherlock Holmes investigates the death of a nobleman who is believed to have been frightened to death by a hellish hound.
I think it’s a bit of a shame that Hammer never made any more movies featuring Peter Cushing as Holmes; he is exquisite in the role. Still, I suspect that they were more interested in the horror content of this particular story rather than seeking to start a series; this is far and away the most horrific of the Holmes stories. In fact, many of the alterations to the original story seem to be there to augment the horror content; though it’s been a while since I’ve read the novel, I don’t recall anything involving the sadistic sequence involving Hugo Baskerville, the tarantula, or the excursion into the mine, though they do feel like scenes I’d find in a Hammer movie. Still, these scenes don’t really do any damage; in fact, the Hugo Baskerville sequence is quite memorable. My main problem with the movie is the sometimes sluggish pace that I find in many of the Hammer movies. Still, this is a minor quibble in light of Cushing’s performance; in particular, I love a scene where Cushing’s Holmes tries to encourage Doctor Mortimer to lead him to the entrance of the mine, because Cushing does such a fine job in expressing both his manipulative power over Mortimer while showing us how much he dislikes him. Andre Morell also deserves kudos for his solid portrayal of Watson, which somewhat makes up for one of the central problems with the story itself—to wit, that Holmes himself is missing from a goodly section of the story.