Sherlock Holmes (Ian Richardson) faces a supernatural mystery when a distinguished but absent-minded doctor (Denholm Elliott) hires the legendary detective to investigate the murder of Sir Charles Baskerville. The doctor r... more »ecounts the legend of Baskerville Hall, cursed for 350 years since Hugo Baskerville traded his soul to the devil. All Hugo's ancestors have met with unexplained deaths on the hall's moor. With Charles's heir, Sir Henry, due to arrive from America, Holmes sends Dr. Watson (Donald Churchill) to Baskerville to watch for danger. "The game's afoot," Holmes declares, as he sets upon the trail of the Baskerville killer in the sleuth's most heralded and baffling case.« less
"With the exception of the cheesy merry-go-round dog attack at the beginning of this TV movie, this version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is superb. Ian Richardson plays Holmes with a flair that matches the great Jeremy Brett. It's a shame that Richardson's Holmes is only captured in one other occasion on film. ("The Sign of Four") In contrast, it's also a shame that "Hound" is probably the most screen adapted literary work ever (there are at least 10 films) but there is no perfect definitive version. This is probably as close as we're going to get. This film, made in 1983, far outshines the 2000 BBC version with its horrid CGI dog and a Watson who is likely computer generated as well. Fans of the Jeremy Brett film may be surprised at the stellar cast of this one, featuring Denholm Elliott ("Raiders of the Lost Ark"), Eleanor Bron ("The House of Mirth"), Connie Booth ("Monty Python"), and noted actor Brian Blessed (you'll know him when you see him if you don't already). The film also features Ronald Lacey as probably the best Inspector Lestrade ever. (Lacey was also in "Raiders" and the Jeremy Brett version of "The Sign of Four".) Martin Shaw's spin as the Texan Sir Henry Baskerville surprisingly turns out to be more pleasant than not. At times the film is on the gritty side. The scene with Sir Hugo chasing his servant's daughter for that evening's recreational rape is darker than one would expect, but precisely where it needs to be cinematically. When you consider realism, this "Hound" is unequalled.Fans of Ian Richardson should also check him out in "Murder Rooms", a BBC series where he plays Dr. Joseph Bell - a real Victorian doctor universally recognized as Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes character."
Excellent and Memorable
Daniel R. Darby | Simi Valley, CA United States | 07/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This 1983 version of the Hound, with Ian Richardson as Sherlock Holmes, has rarely received the accolades it so richly deserves. While not the most faithful adaptation of the Conan Doyle classic, it is nevertheless sumptuously atmospheric. It features a truly menacing hound that more closely approximates the horror elicited by the novel's original than the veritable slew of disappointing hounds from several other film versions, the obvious exception being the equally terrifying Basil Rathbone hound. This TV movie's strengths stem from a variety of sources. First of all, Michael Lewis's engaging, memorable film score is exquisitely dynamic and resonates with excitement. Secondly, the production's choice of authentic Devonshire locales for outdoor filming, and effective use of sound stages to evoke the melancholy and dreary mystique of the moors at nighttime,imbues this stylish version with an appropriately gothic flavor. It stunningly depicts the eerie essence of the Grimpen Mire, replete with its miasma of swirling, amorphous ground mist, and compellingly involves the viewer in the visual ambience of its surroundings. The film's denouement, as Holmes pursues his villainous quarry through the mire's impenetrable sea of fog, is masterfully photographed and provides a highly dramatic and satisfying catharsis to an enjoyable film.
This is not to discount the film's few shortcomings. Certainly Richardson's Holmes, invariably prone to overtly amiable behavior, deviates from the disconcerting arrogance and brooding demeanor so brilliantly and faithfully rendered by Peter Cushing and Jeremy Brett. This is not to negate Richardson's charismatic and magnetic presence, however, and he is a pleasure to watch. (Recently, he compellingly played Dr. Joseph Bell, the real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, in an equally atmospheric mystery series broadcast on Public Television). However, his Holmes portrayal remains somewhat revisionist. Furthermore, Donald Churchill's slightly bumbling rendition of Dr. Watson is too much of a frustrating throwback to Nigel Bruce's comedic and dim-witted depiction of the much maligned-doctor in the classic Basil Rathbone films of the 1940s. As Watson's character, for once, takes center stage in the Hound, casting for this role is more imperatively crucial than for Holmes. Among the most convincing and enjoyable Watsons from productions past included the more cerebral Andre Morell from the 1959 Hammer film and the equally astute and somber Edward Hardwicke from the 1987 Jeremy Brett version. However, that said, this stylish production deserves unstinting praise for the masterful way in which it skillfully reproduces the macabre spirit of the classic novel."
Solid, but not totally spectacular version
Hazen B Markoe | St. Paul, MN United States | 02/01/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic story featuring Sherlock Holmes offers a fun and solid take on the tale of the Great Detective and his investigation of a deadly family curse. Wonderfully photographed, the film makes great use of the dark settings of the moor. Ian Richardson leads the pack with a sly, puckish take on Sherlock Holmes. It is a wonderful performance that makes one wish that he had filmed more Holmes stories then he did. Denholm Elliott has his amusing moments as the local doctor with a case of absent-mindedness. Unfortunately, the actor playing the faithful Dr. Watson, seems to be too much the Cockney with his gravelly voice. It's frustrating since his character spends much of the time onscreen, while Holmes is offscreen thoughout the middle part of the film. Brian Blessed and Connie Booth (formerly married to John Cleese, and a sometime performer with Monty Python), do well in smaller roles. A decent film, but not the definitive version."
Hazen B Markoe | 04/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly the best version of this classic tale that I've seen. Ian Richardson is superb as Holmes and the other characters are well-acted and believable. There is also some hauntingly good dialogue and an unforgettable soundtrack which adds to the wonderful atmosphere."
A great plot, a more humane Sherlock Holmes, and Grimpen Mir
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 08/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The tale of The Hound of the Baskervilles has such sturdy bones that it's probably the most filmed of the Great Detective's cases. Let's see...I've watched at one time or another Richard Roxburgh, Peter Cushing, Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Peter Cook, Matt Frewer and Ian Richardson play Holmes as he pursues the solution to this monstrous plot. One or two I've enjoyed less than the others. One was really grim; an attempt at comedy that had many things but humor, unless you find uproarious a chihuahua with the bladder the size of a bull mastiff's urinating on a person's foot.
With this version, Ian Richardson plays Holmes, Donald Churchill plays Watson, Martin Shaw plays Sir Henry Baskerville and Denholm Elliot plays Dr. Mortimer. Grimpen Mire continues to play Grimpen Mire, and that dark, fog-swept Dartmoor bog is not a place you'd want to venture into, even if a slavering hound weren't bounding after you.
Just to restate the plot: Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson are visited in their rooms at 221B Baker street by Dr. Mortimer. Mortimer tells Holmes the story of the Baskervilles and the curse that was laid upon them. Mortimer's best friend, Sir Charles Baskerville, has died under suspicious circumstances. Now the heir, Henry Baskerville, is arriving from Canada. Mortimer believes Sir Henry is at risk and pleads for Holmes to intervene. Holmes says he cannot leave London for a few days, but agrees to meet Sir Henry. Homes then agrees there are unusual aspects to the case and has Watson accompany Sir Henry to Baskerville Hall. Watson is to report back by mail until Holmes can arrive. And now we enter the world of swirling fog, of nights without moonlight, of swamps that can suck an unwary man under, of servants who seem too silent, and of neighbors...a brother and sister who live near by. Then there is the unnerving howling of a great beast to be heard late at night.
Richardson gives us a Holmes who smiles a little more than we're used to. He's just as analytic and perceptive, but seems more understanding of human foibles that, say, Rathbone's or Brett's versions. Because the story is so inherently dramatic, however, as long as the actors are accomplished the issue of who's a better Holmes isn't all that important. It's not a zero-sum game, where if you prefer Rathbone, for instance, then automatically Brett must be diminished. While I might prefer one over the other, I think Richardson, Brett, Rathbone and Cushing all give satisfying performances and I enjoy each of them.
This version, like the others, has first-rate production values and solid acting. The one thing that bothers me is that Donald Churchill as Watson comes perilously close to the Nigel Bruce School of Acting. Churchill doesn't make Watson the elderly buffoon that Bruce turned Watson into, but he makes Watson far more obtuse than necessary to help the story.
Since there was a rapacious Baskerville ancestor, since there were suspicious deaths, since there was a great hound, and since there was an unscrupulous murderer, I don't think I'm giving anything away by quoting Dr. Watson's last line in the movie. "The curse of the Baskervilles," he says to Holmes, with a shake of his head, "...a figment of the imagination." Or Holmes' last line. "Without the imagination," he says with a smile to Watson, "there would be no horror."