Friday, November 20, 2009

It's elementary that Cushing makes a great Sherlock Holmes

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, 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--Watson is an intelligent, capable partner to Holmes here, just like he is in the Arthur Conan Doyle tales--and the rest of the cast is likewise perfect in their various parts.

This version may take some liberties with the novel here and there, 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.


  1. If you thought Cushing was great as Holmes in his first outing, you should definitely check out his final appearance as the great sleuth in The Masks of Death from 1984, directed by Roy Ward Baker. He is ably supported by a venerated cast from both sides of the Atlantic, including: John Mills, Anne Baxter, Anton Diffring and Ray Milland.

    Mills (as Watson) and Cushing get on splendidly. An absolute valentine to both the lead actor and main character, Cushing has moments of pure genius in it. Whether he is just sitting in his study reading a paper and rolling his eyes at Watson, or chasing around cobblestone streets and old manors at midnight -- Cushing is a delight to watch.

    This was to be perhaps his finest late-life role (he only made one more film before officially retiring from acting) and is easily his best performance of the 1980s (next to the Hallmark production of A Tale of Two Cities).

    As far as I know, it can only be seen on foreign bootleg DVR (mine has Dutch subtitles at the bottom) and old VHS as it has not yet been made available here in the US on DVD. It's a bloody shame too.

    The music, costumes, sets and direction are all top-notch -- along with a tremendous penultimate performance from the great Peter Cushing -- The Masks of Death is an essential entry into the canon of the immortal Sherlock Holmes -- and the immortal man who played him so effortlessly.

  2. I agree 100%. I love that movie, and I will be posting a review of it next week.

    And you're right. It has not been released in the US on DVD yet. And since no DVD release has been scheduled to take advantage of the hype around the Robert Downey Jr-starring Holmes movie, I don't think we'll be seeing a re-release any time soon. Which is a true shame, given the crap that IS readily available on DVD.