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The Hound of the Baskervilles
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"But without the imagination, Watson, there would be no horror." - Sherlock Holmes
Acclaimed actor Ian Richardson dons the deerstalker hat in this lively interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary sleuth. Nothing will stop the relentless and always elegant detective in his search for the truth about a legendary beast out for blood. The Lord of the Baskervilles is dead, seemingly killed by the slavering jaws of a supernatural monster of the moors. Arriving in the fog-drenched English countryside, Holmes and Watson battle hatred and treachery to unravel the eerie mystery of an ancient curse that aims to destroy the last Baskerville heir. Also stars Donald Churchill, Denholm Elliott, Martin Shaw, Glynis Barber, Brian Blessed, Eleanor Bron, Edward Judd, Connie Booth and David Langton.
Top customer reviews
Then there is the actual case, which on many instances followed the plot faithfully, leaving in scenes omitted from most other adaptations - only to deviate from the story or move events forward too soon, so that the pacing did at times seem a bit awkward. That being said, this surpasses most others and makes the attempt throughout to never stray too far from the source material. In fact, many of the tweaks were not so much an attempt at surpassing Doyle, but to flesh out vital side characters such as Laura Lyons and her husband, the latter of which is merely mentioned in the book. We are also - for once - given a Sir Henry who is not portrayed as the complete imbecile he appears as in far too many adaptations to name, but a confident, adventure seeker intent on fulfilling his position as heir to Baskerville Hall. The other supporting cast are equally strong, and I particularly loved the absent minded Dr Mortimer (who most will recognize as Marcus from Indiana Jones). Truly, the casting delights just as much as every other element here.
From the opening scene, the story moves quickly. Holmes' initial investigation in London underwent some minor changes to further speed the pacing and add an element of action. One gripe I did have was with the treatment of Watson here - this is a case that pivots around the doctor, so it was somewhat disappointing that once in Dartmoor, he tends to be something of a bumbler; though by no means is he the buffoon that was Nigel Bruce. This is also a different actor who played Holmes' Boswell in Sign of Four, and the difference is palpable, unfortunately. I regret to say that this was the one issue I had, as the movie would have benefited tremendously from a more capable Watson.
Ian Richardson, however, is an absolute pleasure to watch. The best portrayals of the Great Detective tend to play up a dark, brooding nature, neurosis, or brashness never really present to any great degree in Canon, though this is not the case with Richardson. He plays Holmes as the eccentric genius he was - unconventional, yet in every respect the Victorian gentleman. He exudes some intangible Holmesian quality that gives credibility to his deductions without resorting to the overused trope of troubled genius. Even his dumbed down Watson shines in his presence. Sacrilege, I know, but the more I watch of Richardson in the role, the more I prefer him to Brett in many regards.
In short (possibly too late for that), I was never too overly fond of HOUN film adaptations, but this one has ruined me for all others. It is, in the opinion of this humble Sherlockian, quite possibly the definitive adaptation.
Please try his Murder Rooms. Sadly cancelled by some idiot in the Beeb.
Richardson is a terrific Holmes and it is disappointing that he only made one other film from Doyle's "canon".
To purists of Doyle, be warned that the script introduces a few character not found in the original but they only add to the story-line.
And yes, Dr Watson is not played as sharp as say, Hardwicke's characterization (in the Granada series) but overall he is entertaining.
The highest marks for this film go for production values, direction, and cinematography. All are superb.
Recommended for collectors of Holmes films