Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sherlock Sunday: Peter Cushing takes his place among the great cinematic Holmses

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
Starring: Peter Cushing, Andre Morell, Christopher Lee and Marla Landi
Director: Terence Fisher
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Sherlock Holmes (Cushing) is retained to find the root of and bring to an end the curse that's been haunting the Baskervilles family for centuries before it claims the family's final male member, Sir Henry Baskervilles (Lee). With Dr. Watson (Morell) at this side, Holmes ventures onto the haunted moor to seperate fact from fiction and legend from the all-too-real killer who lurks there.

The Hammer Films adaptation of "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" is one of the best Sherlock Holmes movies ever made. Peter Cushing is excellent as Holmes (in his first of three appearances as the character, including one in another adaptation of "Hound of the Baskervilles" made as part of a BBC series), Morell is a fine Watson (and he is playing the part in a script that doesn't portray Watson as a bumbling idiot whose only reason for being around is for Holmes to made rude comments about) and the rest of the cast is likewise perfect in their various parts. Christopher Lee even takes a turn as a slightly heroic figure, playing a Henry Baskerville that is nothing like the character in the original novel but interesting and well played nonetheless.

This version may take some rather extreme liberties with the novel here and there--it is a Hammer Film from the late 1950s, so there MUST be a peasant girl with heaving busoms in a lowcut blouse--but Cushing and Morell should definately be near the top of any list of "Great Homes & Watsons of the Movies." It's a must-see for fans of any of the stars or anyone who loves a well-done Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Lovers of director Terence Fisher's other films for Hammer (such as the Frankenstein series) will also definately want to check this one out.

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