May 18, 2014

Movie Night: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

Review #583: The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes), Nigel Bruce (Dr. John H. Watson), Richard Greene (Sir Henry Baskerville), Wendy Barrie (Beryl Stapleton), Lionel Atwill (Dr. James Mortimer), John Carradine (Barryman), Morton Lowry (John Stapleton), Eily Malyon (Mrs. Barryman), and Barlowe Borland (Frankland) Directed by Sidney Lanfield.

I had previously reviewed an adaption of the classic novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (#272 - The Hound of the Baskervilles - 1959), which was excellent and such. So how does this film made 20 years beforehand fare? To be honest, I actually have read the novel (big shock, right?), and the movie manages to do a fine job in cramming the story into a small 78 minute window. The story flows well with the novel, not making drastic changes (The fate of the villain is left unknown, but leaving a little ambiguity as opposed to the novel doesn't hurt), and the landscapes look haunting and beautiful. The supporting cast is decent enough, but the main attraction is Basil Rathbone in his first movie as Sherlock Holmes, which he would play for 13 more films for seven more years alongside Nigel Bruce as Watson. Rathbone is certainly fun to watch deduce the crime, though it is debatable on whether if Bruce's somewhat bumbling performance is endearing enough to work or somewhat annoying. Whatever the case, the movie is simply excellent in its portrayal of the novel and manages to work on such a short time scale. Check this one out, then check out the 1959 film to see what all the fuss is about.

Overall, I give it 9 out of 10 stars.

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