Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Counting Down the Greatest Crime Films of All-Time: #96

Another great one: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. From Otto Penzler at CrimeReads:
Basil Rathbone—an accomplished stage actor, especially in Shakespearean roles—played Holmes for the first time in this film, which was the first (after dozens of screen versions of Holmesian adventures) to be set in the Victorian Era. Rathbone, with Nigel Bruce as his Watson, went on to play Holmes in thirteen more full-length films, as well as 275 radio broadcasts and on the stage. ....

An ancient legend has it that a gigantic phantasmagoric hound prowls the Great Grimpen Mire, on which Baskerville Hall is located. Young Sir Henry has recently arrived from Canada to assume possession of the Baskerville estate after the mysterious death of his uncle. Dr. Mortimer, the physician of the Baskerville family, has come to Sherlock Holmes’s rooms at Baker Street because he is afraid that Sir Henry will meet a similar end. When attempts on Henry’s life are made in London, Holmes and Watson head to Dartmoor to prevent another death. ....

Arguably the greatest mystery novel ever written, The Hound of the Baskervilles is also one of the most familiar, and it is a measure of its greatness that the film bears watching even if the viewer knows the murderer.

Extremely faithful to the book on which it is based and notable for introducing Rathbone and Bruce to the world as the definitive Holmes and Watson, the film has a superb cast, with such infamous screen villains as Lionel Atwill and John Carradine providing nice red herrings. .... (more)

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