Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Peter Cushing's Hound of the Baskervilles

Close readers know that I am more into reading all things Sherlock than watching. Nevertheless, one film I have wanted to see for decades is the 1959 Hound of the Baskervilles starring Peter Cushing.

Just this autumn it was on my local public television station twice and I missed it both times. Once was the night I had the great joy and privilege to be speaking at a meeting of the Illustrious Clients scion in Indianapolis.

This Christmas my long-time wish was fulfilled when my wife bought me a DVD of that and two other Holmes movies. We watched it on Christmas Eve.

Kieran McMullen, in his authoritative volume The Many Watsons, says, “Like all of Doyle’s stories it needs some padding to extend the tale to a full length movie.” But I was struck by just the opposite – how many wonderful scenes I remember from the book aren’t there in this film version. Missing are:
  • The opening scene with the deductions drawn from Dr. Mortimer's cane.
  • "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound."
  • The warning message cut out of the newspaper.
  • The bearded follower who identifies himself to the cabbie as Sherlock Holmes.
  • The pause before Watson, summoning all his courage, prepares to charge into the hut containing the Man on the Tor.
  • Turning over the body and finding out that he is not Sir Henry Baskerville.  
I've often heard this film criticized as being just another Hammer horror film. It didn't strike me that way, but I think the removal of most of the detection from the best constructed Holmes detective story did have the effect of playing up the horror elements.

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