The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Version

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IA
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The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Version

Unread post by IA » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:15 pm

A couple of weeks ago I embarked on a mission to find the best screen adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I watched six candidates for that accolade and took a few notes. Proceeding in chronological order, I'll start with the most famous version of all.

01. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939, 20th Century Fox).

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This classic works beautifully because it has two essential requirements for any successful adaptation of the tale: genuine atmosphere and a charismatic actor playing Sherlock. Basil Rathbone’s masterful Holmes is superficially avuncular and delightfully cold-blooded—“I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects,” as Doyle wrote in another story. Rathbone seems to keep Nigel Bruce’s thick Watson around because he enjoys lording it over less clever beings—he gives ordinary people the sort of amused condescension most of us reserve for pets.

Nigel Bruce’s Watson is more competent and less dense here than in later entries, but he’s still too slow on the draw to be Doyle's skilled Everyman. Because so much of the Hound takes place with Holmes absent, you need a strong and charismatic Watson to hold up the middle. Bruce is a strong enough screen presence to almost compensate for his miscasting.

Ernest Pascal’s screenplay does an admirably efficient job of compressing the book into 80 minutes (were there 20 to 30 more this film might have been truly definitive) and he whips the story along at marching speed (Watson and Sir Henry are on the moor just 20 minutes after the credits). The few additional scenes, like the coroner's inquiry and the séance, add mood and bring the suspects together for the benefit of mystery lovers.

Sidney Lanfield’s direction is anonymous but the film’s strength is in production design and cinematography. Though created entirely in the studio, the Devonshire moors almost look better than the real thing, and perhaps carry more menace. Created on a soundstage so vast (200 by 300 feet) that cast members got lost in it, the moody fake-moor is a triumph of set design, a wasteland of tors and cairns that exhales primordial fog. Without this eerie, menacing setting, the story would lose its bite. As for the titular hound, it's not spectral or satanic-looking, but looks and acts like an intimidating, vicious beast. It comes across as a definite threat.

The ending isn't as strong as it should be, since an Agatha Christie-style gather-the-suspects scene has been added and the production code seems to have prevented the onscreen depiction of the villain’s death. But Holmes’s final line is still a jaw-dropper. Despite the passage of nearly 80 years, this film has aged beautifully. It started Rathbone on the path to dominating the public's conception of Sherlock Holmes, and not until two decades had passed did a challenger arise...

02. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959, Hammer Film Productions).

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Peter Cushing proved himself one of the greatest screen Sherlocks in this version. I had fond childhood memories of it, but this time around was disappointed. It has an excellent Holmes and revolutionary Watson but lacks the proper mood, despite its attempts at horror-mongering. The garish technicolor (with mysterious patches of green lighting in the ruined abbey on the moor) doesn’t fit the story. Nor does the moor get its real due—some location shots of Dartmoor are thrown in, but the major outdoor scenes are studio-filmed on cramped sets that are less atmospheric than the 1939 production’s. The climax is staged in a ruin, rather than on the moor itself, and the very unimpressive hound appears almost an afterthought.

The screenplay is not optimal. Holmes makes fewer deductions, thus weakening the central theme of science versus superstition. Hammer unwisely attempts to sensationalize the story by adding tarantulas, busty femme fatales, human sacrifices, cave-ins, and decadent aristocrats. But blackening the Baskervilles works against the story—why is Holmes sticking his neck out for this creepy family? The structure is rushed: Holmes absence is barely felt, so his re-appearance gives little relief. Terence Fisher’s direction is most vivid in the opening flashback; one gets the feeling he’d much rather have continued directed a gory bodice-ripper than switching to a detective story. Christopher Lee appears as Sir Henry Baskerville but comes across as a coldfish when playing non-horror romance scenes.

Nevertheless the film is still enjoyable and worthwhile, primarily for its two main stars. Andre Morrell’s casual, amused, and very military Watson marks the first time the character was played fully straight when given center stage. He’s eminently sensible, a grounding source of calm to Holmes, and easily capable of carrying the Holmes-less middle of the story, so it’s a pity this film curtails that. As for Peter Cushing, he looks most like Doyle’s Holmes (aside from being short) and has a flitting, birdlike energy. His eyes are shining while his mind fizzes with perpetual puzzles. He’s more professorial than Rathbone, more wrapped up in his own mind. He also has a distinction unique among screen Holmeses--he went on to star in another adaptation of this story...

03. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1968, BBC TV)

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Sherlock Holmes was revived by the BBC in 1965, with the excellent Douglas Wilmer in the role. It was the first onscreen attempt to consistently and faithfully adapt Doyle’s stories, but it was done quick and on the cheap, which made Wilmer jump ship after the first season. He was succeeded by Peter Cushing, who kicked off his tenure with a two-part adaptation of the Hound in 1968. He’s mellower than in the 1959 film, but still a joy to watch. His Watson this time is Nigel Stock, a very likable actor whose Watson falls between between Nigel Bruce’s and Morell’s--a duffer who’s smarter than he looks or sounds. The supporting cast is fine and includes Ballard Berkley (the Major from Fawlty Towers) as Charles Baskerville.

Unfortunately, the budgetary limitations of this version are obvious. Since this was a 60s BBC production, outdoors scenes were shot on 16mm and interiors on video (some scenes were even moved indoors to save money). Every indoors scene has the cheap sets and sort of blocking and coverage (lots of over-tight close-ups) that were holdovers from the days of live TV. The interiors are too fake and artificial to mesh with the outdoor footage. This kills the mood, which is vital in any adaptation of the Hound. Several scenes have been filmed on the genuine moor, but not the climactic and most important ones. The climax with the hound was obviously shot on a tiny set flooded with fog to disguise its smallness. The hound is onscreen for no more than a few seconds and looks like a chunky Rottweiler.

The script is very faithful to Doyle but terribly wordy—not good when there’s a lack of strong visuals! The ending is super-abrupt, as if the BBC decided the show had exceeded its time slot and ordered everything after the villain’s demise cut. I still enjoyed this production, primarily because of Cushing, but the limitations of 60s British TV ensured this Hound could never be a prize animal.

The reputations of the 1970s Hounds are not high, so I will skip from the 60s to the 1980s and from Britain to Russia...

04. Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Sobaka Baskerviley (1981, Lenfilm)

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I had misgivings before viewing the Russian version of the Hound of the Baskervilles. What if its supposed greatness was just nationalistic hype from the east? What I initially experienced felt very strange. Sherlock and Watson were speaking Russian, and though the filmmakers went to great trouble to get the period look right, the buildings, furnishings, locations, and clothing still looked very Slavic.

By the end I was impressed. The Russians have a reputation for reverent, lavish adaptations of classic literature, and this must be the longest (at two and a half hours) and most faithful adaptation of the Hound ever made. It also has the biggest budget, to the shame of the British and Americans who've cranked out so many cheap versions of the tale. I don’t know what godforsaken part of Russia stood in for the moor, but it was just as desolate and eerie. And what a pleasure to see a version of the Hound with extensive outdoors photography, even in night scenes! That is supremely important in sustaining the mood. The hound emerges from genuine darkness and with startling results; the paint on its face makes it resemble a floating skull.

Vasily Livanov plays Sherlock Holmes. He looks more like an accountant than a detective and speaks with a croak, but he expertly captures Holmes’s slow-burning stillness and he projects great intelligence, with a hint of jovial cynicism. As for Vitaly Solomin’s Watson, he is undoubtedly among the best portrayals of the good doctor. Solomin, who has an occasional sly glint in his eye, could just as easily play a master detective as his sidekick. This gives his Watson authority and charisma. The other roles are similarly well cast. The Russians turn Henry Baskerville (Nikita Mikhalkov) into a boisterous cowboy with the emotional volubility of a Cossack. This saves the role from its usual blandness.

So, congratulations to the Russians for creating one of the best adaptations of Doyle's novel. That said, this version doesn't have the vitality of the 1939 film. It's a bit slow in comparison. Director Igor Maslennikov wrings evocative images from the material (such as the man on the Tor, and perhaps the spookiest hound to appear onscreen) but he’s not the most dynamic or pacey director. Nevertheless, this handsome, heavy film was a gauntlet thrown down to the homeland of Holmes—could the British do better?

05. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983, Mapleton Films)

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The great Ian Richardson was an inspired choice for Holmes. Anyone who’s watched the original House of Cards has thrilled to the silvery, spidery coolness of this charismatic actor. He made Francis Urquhart a character capable of pissing ice water--just as Holmes could on occasion. So it’s disappointing that Richardson’s Sherlock is so avuncular and smiley-faced, as if the actor was afraid of the character's darkness. Still, there are a few precious moments when the happy-face gives way and one glimpses the magnificent, masterful Holmes that Richardson could have been with more sensitive direction.

As Watson, Donald Churchill is a harrumphing throwback to Nigel Bruce, but without the amiability. He's terribly pissy and gives no sense friendship with Holmes. The actors lack the slightest camaraderie. The supporting cast is mouth-watering (Nicholas Clay, Brian Blessed, Eleanor Bron, Connie Booth, Denholm Elliott) but gives flat performances.

Douglas Hickox’s direction starts over-flashy but settles down, and Ronnie Taylor cinematography's is fit for a theatrical release. Much of the production was filmed on location in Devonshire and the moor scenery is stunning. But like all the non-Russian versions of the story, the climactic scenes with the hound are filmed on a sound-stage with the fog machine working overtime. Luckily the set is good, second only to the 1939 film’s. The hound is a large, imposing, and black--toward the end it appears with an unsettling white glow in its eyes. This works better than an earlier attempt to make it glow, as in the book.

The script was by someone who didn’t trust the effectiveness of the original. A new and very obvious red herring has been introduced, several scenes have been reshuffled, and the script strains mightily to keep the murderer’s identity a secret for too long. Watson’s time as the sole investigator is again curtailed (perhaps for the best since he’s so awful in this version) and Holmes’s reappearance no longer comes as a delight. Some scripting decisions make no sense—Lestrade is introduced early on (and Watson is uncharacteristically rude to him) yet doesn’t appear at the finale, which was his only scene in the book.

This is a production with a large enough budget to sustain lavish period settings, but they have the gaudy look Americans tend to give Victorian England. Ultimately this adaptation is caught midway between Rathbone version (it repeats Holmes’s disguise) and the Hammer film. So we get an old-fashioned Holmes and Watson alongside nastier sex and violence (Sir Hugo takes forever to rape and kill his victim). The basic ingredients to this Hound are good but the result feels derivative. For a version that ignores earlier films and goes back to Doyle, I turn to...

06. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988, ITV Granada)

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Granada's Sherlock Holmes series starred arguably the best Holmes and Watson of all, so its version of the Hound should have been the best as well. But it was a dispiriting disappointment. The series had overspent on earlier episodes and, to save money, decided to shoot a two hour film instead of two episodes. The tightened budget meant no 17th century flashback to Sir Hugo, no London street chase, no filming in Dartmouth, and no outdoors filming at night. Few adaptations could recover from such deprivation.

As Holmes Jeremy Brett was frequently brilliant—his line readings display an intense and sensitive study of Doyle. He alone seems to have turned Holmes into a convincing human being, rather than a smug human computer in a deerstalker. But at the time of filming he was afflicted by ill health (water retention caused by medication for his manic depression) and lower on energy. His opening scenes are crisply performed, his later ones have less electricity. Edward Hardwicke’s Watson is superlative; the only Watson who seems to have an active inner life; there is no doubt about his competence and humanityh. Kristoffer Tabori is an appealing Sir Henry Baskerville (he looks and sounds like Robbie Robertson) but doesn’t fit the character's strapping westerner image.

Like all the entries in Granada’s Holmes series, this Hound has convincing period detail (more convincing than any other version), achieved despite the reduced budget. Location shooting was in Yorkshire instead of Dartmoor; what’s onscreen is a reasonable substitute, but like every damn production (except the Russian one) the climactic scenes on the moor were filmed indoors. The set looks smaller and crummier than anything used in all the other versions (aside from the 1968 Hound), and barely has a nighttime feel. The clumsy direction, staging, and editing in these scenes is borderline incoherent. Unforgivably, the hound is repeatedly shown before the climax, and what we see is a Great Dane (accompanied by a fake head that “attacks” Sir Henry in close-up) with dodgy glow-in-the-dark effects.

Away from the fake moor, the editing and direction are competent but slow and plodding. It takes forever for characters to get on and off trains or move through Baskerville Hall or enter and exit carriages. The lethargic pacing kills the thrills while the unimaginative direction throws away the great, dramatic moments of the story—the death of Sir Charles, the man on the tor, Holmes’s reappearance, the unveiling of the Hound, etc. The script, by T.R. Bowen, proficiently compresses and retains much of the original and shows that Doyle's original structure works on film, or at least might in a film with greater atmosphere and mood. Granada's Hound is not terrible--it simply looks mediocre in light of the series's track record.

***

And thus ends my journey though six versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles. I would have liked to review the silent films of the story, but none are available. The 1921 version starred Eille Norwood and was praised by none other than Conan Doyle ("On seeing him in The Hound of the Baskervilles I thought I had never seen anything more masterly"). Almost as enticing is the 1929 Der Hund von Baskerville, a late German silent version that's said to be a faithful adaptation. Fortunately it will screen at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

In any case, I have seen enough to give a verdict: the 1939 film remains the best, while the award for most faithful and committed adaptation goes to the Russian version. Both are excellent, but I think it's possible to film an even better version of the book. To do so five elements are required:

* Not just a charismatic Holmes, but a charismatic Watson. Holmes is absent during much of the story, but this isn't a problem if the audience enjoys watching Watson.

* A screenplay that sticks relatively close to Doyle' s plot. His dramatic structure is still effective and his tone still strikes a perfect balance between horror, detection, and drama.

* A good budget. The story does not work when done cheaply and deprived of convincing period feel and convincing settings.

* Night scenes shot on location, or on a sound-stage large enough to give the illusion of realism. The minute you place the characters in a blatantly artificial setting, the hound becomes ineffective. The horror of the beast is that of supernatural-seeming creature [/i]erupting into reality[/i]. Having it appear in an utterly fake setting is disastrous.

* A hound that would be imposing even without makeup and positively demonic with it. This requires imagination and creativity--you can't just place a Great Dane in front of the camera. But if you find a suitably intimidating dog, just a bit of paint can go a long way, as in the Russian version, if you figure out the best application of it.

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by Brooksie » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:59 pm

If you're anywhere near San Francisco, there's another potential candidate. They've just announced that the 1929 German silent version will be shown at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:40 pm

This was fun, although I'm not surprised who the winner was. Richardson was such a good choice that it's a pity that the productions were cheesy, played for action lojinks instead of wit and the challenge of wits. I always felt the Jeremy Brett series' feature-length ones were comparatively weak for that excellent series—they didn't know how to crank things up to dramatically support the greater length and scale, versus how well they fleshed out the short stories most of the time.

I can think of two more in somewhat recent (well, filming in color, anyway) times. You missed nothing; the most notable feature of both is that in each, Holmes sports enormous 70s sideburns.

1) 1972 ABC TV movie

A long in the tooth Stewart Granger, who was physically right for the role but otherwise not particularly well suited to it, starred as Holmes with Bernard Fox as Watson; William Shatner is in the cast as George Stapleton and if you watch the clips on YouTube, he walks off with any scene he's in. Poorly shot on studio sets that make it look like an episode of Star Trek, it was a flop.

2) 1978 spoof version

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore star in a fairly dire comedy version released in the US after Moore's star making performance in 10. They play it like a TV spoof, while an impressive cast of comic actors turn up, a few doing all right (Terry Thomas, in his last role) and others coming off sadly and a bit humiliated (Joan Greenwood). Paul Morrissey, who directed Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, does not exactly show aptitude for Victorian comedy.
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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by greta de groat » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:00 pm

The 1914 German version, which Richard Oswald also worked on i believe, is also extant and has been reviewed on Nitrateville in the past. Unfortunately the promised video release hasn't shown up.

More available is the 1937 German version with Bruno Güttner as Holmes. The action is updated to the 1930s, but what i remember most about it was Fritz Rasp as Barrymore.

Apparently the 1931 Robert Rendel version also exists, though not many have seen it (i sure haven't). And there's always Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

Now i'm eagerly awaiting the 1928 version in San Francisco!

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:15 pm

I was following links about assorted early Holmeses, and there's a joke I finally got after 40+ years.

In the play and movie Sleuth, mystery author Andrew Wyke (Olivier, in the movie) has a detective named St. John Lord Merridew. The play is largely concerned with issues of class in England, as reflected in the snobbish prewar mysteries with their toff detectives.

According to this site, the 1933 A Study in Scarlet with Reginald Owen has a villain named Merrydew. And where did they get the name, there being no Merrydew in the book?
The naming of the villain may actually have been a clever bit, as Holmes refers to a “Merridew of abominable memory” in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”
The occasional Sherlockian may have caught that and chuckled at Shaffer giving away his true feelings about Wyke's fiction-writing.
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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by Jay Salsberg » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:52 am

greta de groat wrote: Apparently the 1931 Robert Rendel version also exists, though not many have seen it (i sure haven't).
greta
The 1931 version can only be found at the BFI. For decades, the soundtrack was missing; but they have since located sound disks and married them up to the print. Unfortunately, those few who have seen the film tend to agree with what the reviewers said in 1931- the film's a stinker.

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by wich2 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 8:10 am

Good summation, IA, that this sometime Sherlock* largely agrees with. It's yet another oft-lensed Great Novel that has YET to be really perfectly filmed!

The one I probably enjoy most is the one from Magic Year '39. Rathbone is fresh to the role and having fun - and Bruce is the "straightest" he will ever be, w/o the Boobus Britannicus shite.

-Craig
*(Right now, playing Grimesby Roylott)

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:56 pm

Here's a fun Sherlock Holmes discussion from Nitrateville days past.

I was trying to remember which silent version of HOUND I'd seen at Cinefest, and this thread reminded me it was the Ellie Norwood version. It was pretty entertaining, as I recall, and as noted in that thread, they made the hound look extra spooky by scratching out his eyes on the film itself for a very low-tech, but effective gimmick.
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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:00 pm

I agree that the Technicolor in the Hammer version is garish, but it does look so wonderful on the Twilight Time blu-ray release. Perhaps not fitting the story, but if you want to see this version look its best, that's the release to get.

Weirdly, I was bemoaning the fact that I didn't own the two 20th Century Fox Holmes films with Rathbone & Bruce, and it seems the MPI DVDs are the way to go, unless I want to buy a blu-ray set that includes their entire run for both Fox and Universal. Strange that they're not available individually, unless I want to go the import route.
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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:04 pm

Then there was that time that Sherlock Holmes was a Timelord...
Haven't seen Tom Baker as Sherlock in The Hound of the Baskervilles, but reviews were mixed, and it was trumped shortly after by the Grenada TV version with Jeremy Brett.
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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by IA » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:39 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:This was fun, although I'm not surprised who the winner was.
...I always felt the Jeremy Brett series' feature-length ones were comparatively weak for that excellent series—they didn't know how to crank things up to dramatically support the greater length and scale, versus how well they fleshed out the short stories most of the time.
Glad you enjoyed the review, and I agree regarding the Brett features. Only The Sign of Four is truly excellent. Aside from the mediocre Hound, the rest tried inflating short stories to feature-length and failed, with the possible exception of The Master Blackmailer, which was more of a melodrama than a detective story.

I stayed away from Stewart Granger's Hound because of its awful reputation. I heard better things about Tom Baker's but decided six Hounds in a row was enough.
I watched the Cook/Moore version a few years ago, in the mistaken belief that it couldn't be as bad as everyone thought. It was worse. I found it incomprehensible that the duo behind Bedazzled and Not Only But Also could have made a film with barely any humor. Perhaps Holmes is harder to spoof than people think, but Morrissey's direction and input undoubtedly played a large role in wrecking the project.
Brooksie wrote:If you're anywhere near San Francisco, there's another potential candidate. They've just announced that the 1929 German silent version will be shown at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
I live in SF and am tremendously excited about that, though I'm not sure how great a Holmes Carlyle Blackwell will be. A tiny clip can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/233168928
greta de groat wrote:More available is the 1937 German version with Bruno Güttner as Holmes. The action is updated to the 1930s, but what i remember most about it was Fritz Rasp as Barrymore.
I'm ashamed to say that the IMDB reviews put me off seeing it, but I will try to view the film right after seeing the 1929 German version. It'll be a Teutonic tag-team.
s.w.a.c. wrote:I was trying to remember which silent version of HOUND I'd seen at Cinefest, and this thread reminded me it was the Ellie Norwood version. It was pretty entertaining, as I recall, and as noted in that thread, they made the hound look extra spooky by scratching out his eyes on the film itself for a very low-tech, but effective gimmick.
That version is on my bucket-list, especially because I thought Norwood was terrific in The Sign of Four (which some say is better than his Hound). According to the late David Shephard, the rights and materials for the Eille Norwood Sherlock Holmes films are owned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company. I hope the BFI will strike a deal with it to release the films on Blu-Ray. Surely there's demand from all the Sherlockians out there.

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by wich2 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:43 am

IA wrote:I live in SF and am tremendously excited about that, though I'm not sure how great a Holmes Carlyle Blackwell will be. A tiny clip can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/233168928
Wow, was that material handled clumsily! (Including the poor intercuts with what looks like a tabletop Moor?)
That version is on my bucket-list, especially because I thought Norwood was terrific in The Sign of Four (which some say is better than his Hound) ... Surely there's demand from all the Sherlockians out there.
From your mouth, to God's ears! What I've seen of Norwood's work is very solid - but in prints ranging from indifferent to bad. Same as Wontner's* films. Why the Brits don't better appreciate and handle these pieces, I don't get...

-Craig

*One of this sometime Sherlock's top handful of filmed Great Detectives.

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by IA » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:41 pm

wich2 wrote:Wow, was that material handled clumsily! (Including the poor intercuts with what looks like a tabletop Moor?)
And yet again the Hound is played by a very unscary Great Dane. Why do so many filmmakers think this is a good idea? Sure, Great Danes are the tallest of dogs (alongside Irish Wolfhounds), but they don't look menacing, especially if one knows they are well-tempered and affectionate, like many of the largest dog breeds. Automatically going for a Great Dane because of its height is unimaginative--a menacing but smaller dog can be made to look larger than life onscreen through creative use of close-ups and low-angles.

But on the positive side, the 1929 version looks like it has an appropriately Gothic/Expressionist atmosphere. I don't expect a very faithful adaptation, since the film is 65 minutes long and silent, but I'm still looking forward to seeing it.
From your mouth, to God's ears! What I've seen of Norwood's work is very solid - but in prints ranging from indifferent to bad. Same as Wontner's* films. Why the Brits don't better appreciate and handle these pieces, I don't get...
One of the Wontner films is even lost. The rest are in the public domain and circulating widely in horrid video quality. Of them, the Triumph of Sherlock Holmes is notable for being the only genuine, existing film adaptation of The Valley of Fear, the most underrated Holmes novel.

A few of the Norwood films are also online in bad quality, but almost all of the series (at least 43 titles) is held by the BFI. The prints are in varying stages of preservation, and fully safeguarding and scanning all of them for Blu-Ray/DVD/streaming would certainly be expensive, but surely Lord Webber has the money. And perhaps all those Sherlockians around the world could put together a kickstarter to grease the wheels!

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by greta de groat » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:58 pm

IA wrote:
But on the positive side, the 1929 version looks like it has an appropriately Gothic/Expressionist atmosphere. I don't expect a very faithful adaptation, since the film is 65 minutes long and silent, but I'm still looking forward to seeing it.
I can't believe Fritz Rasp is in this one too!

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by wich2 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:52 pm

IA wrote:the Triumph of Sherlock Holmes is notable for being the only genuine, existing film adaptation of The Valley of Fear, the most underrated Holmes novel.
Agreed on both counts.

I like both Film, and Novel (by the way - have you seen THE MOLLY MAGUIRES?)

-Craig

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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by IA » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:05 pm

wich2 wrote:I like both Film, and Novel (by the way - have you seen THE MOLLY MAGUIRES?)
I haven't, but any unseen film with Sean Connery automatically enters my to-watch list.

wich2
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Re: The Hounding of the Baskervilles: Hunting the Best Versi

Unread post by wich2 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:12 pm

IA wrote:
wich2 wrote:I like both Film, and Novel (by the way - have you seen THE MOLLY MAGUIRES?)
I haven't, but any unseen film with Sean Connery automatically enters my to-watch list.
It is essentially the same story as the American portion of VoF!

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