Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

the last saturday of summer

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It’s Saturday again, and you all know what that means… it’s Library Day!

Best snags today– newest Dorothy Cannell mystery; “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”; and “The Hound of the Baskervilles” with Jeremy Brett as Holmes.  (What is that I smell?  A comparison post?  Yummo!)

Check out my sidebar for the rest of my lovely swag.

And yes, coming this evening to a blog near you– Douglas Adams appreciation.  Watch this space.

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a howl on the moor

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 Ah, and here it is… the long-awaited second half of my comments on “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

When we left our heroes, Holmes had shed his beggar disguise, and he and Watson were headed back to Baskerville Hall.  As they walk across Dartmoor, suddenly, they hear a howl…

  • How can they “follow” a sound that has stopped?
  • “Notting Hill Murderer”?  Where did this subplot come from?  Are Will & Anna involved?
Should they be worried about the Notting Hill Murderer? 

Should they be worried about the Notting Hill Murderer?

  • Ah, the boot is properly explained.  This was a good clue.
  • Again with Stapleton recognizing people whom he has never before met!  That’s quite a skill.
  • Why is Stapleton not at all shocked by the dead body at his feet?  Shouldn’t he show at least a bit of horror?
  • Holmes is kind when he breaks the news to Mrs. Barryman.
  • Again!  These “upper-crust” types have no lasting sympathy for underlings– they are to be considered and then dismissed.
  • Oh, Rathbone!  That was nearly straight to camera.

  • I like these discussions on the train between Holmes and Watson, explaining the plots & plans.  It is very reminiscent of what I like best about the radio series.
  • Ah– Mr. Franklin, you are so spunky!
  • How unfortunate about the wagon.
  • What a sweet touch with the broach.
  • That’s quite the dress & jewelry Beryl is wearing!
  • The Stapleton’s hall looks like it was designed by a high-school acting company on a budget.
  • Ah– an what is the cunning Stapleton up to now?  Black gloves bode no good.
  • Poor doggie!  But that explains the “grave-robbing” charge.
  • Now, given the size of Dartmoor, I find it rather inconceivable that Holmes and Watson can find the moving dog by his growls.
  • Quite the savage dog attack, actually.  Pretty intense.
  • Again, the poor doggie.  Was it really necessary to shoot at him?
  • “Mr. Holmes…” you were wrong.
  • It was pretty clear that “IT” was a dog, Sir Henry.
  • Nice bit of tracking by Holmes and good sound effect touches in the background– noticable for the general lack of music through the rest of the film
  • Oh, Holmes!  You should have seen that one coming.  We all did.
  • Why aren’t they treating Sir Henry for rabies?  He was just attacked by a vicious dog.
  • Why does Stapleton want him dead?
  • No, Don’t Drink It!

Don't be like Alice, Sir Henry!

  • Awfully clever of you, Holmes!  How did you manage that trick?  {we’re never shown}
  • About that dog:  I seem to recall that the dog in the book was painted to glow in the moonlight. Maybe they couldn’t manage it in the studio?
  • A cute plot, young Stapleton.  Completely mad, but cute.
  • So, where did Holmes get these constables, eh?  He hasn’t been to town since he left with Watson on the return train.
  • Uncharacteristic of Holmes not to go running after his quarry.  The man just disappears, and we never hear about him again.  What an anti-climactic ending.
  • Holmes’s face during Mortimer’s effusions is classic.
  • Wait?  What?!  He just goes to bed?  That’s it?!  And everyone takes this?
  • Wow.  “Oh, and Watson, the needle.” — First off, kudos for sneaking that reference past the censors; Second- -pedants would know that Holmes would never use his needle right after a case– only when he got bored.

Ok– Overall, a decent first-effort towards telling the story on film and contains an excellent pair of Holmes & Watson.  However, the plot is over-simplified and the ending falls very flat.  A shame, that.  It’s a fairly short movie, and there should have been plenty of room to fill in the details.

Holmes and the Hound, part 1

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“The Hound of the Baskervilles” (1939) 

80 minutes; black & white

Starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce 

As promised, here are my comments on this film.  I’ll be presenting them in two parts.

I’ve owned a set of the “New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” radio dramas (1939-46) since high school, so I am very familiar with Rathbone & Bruce’s voices and their acting styles.  In 46, Rathbone bowed out, and Bruce then continued the series for a bit with Tom Conway as Holmes.  I’m considerably less familiar with their film work, though I have seen a few movies.  “The Hound of the Baskervilles” was Rathbone & Bruce’s first movie together, and its popularity inspired all of the later films, as well as the radio series.  So, this is an important film in the Holmesian canon.

 I’m working with a foggy memory as regards the plot of this story, as it has been donkey’s years since I read Conan Doyle’s novel, not since my ill-fated attempt to teach it to seventh graders.  Yeah, it didn’t go well, but never mind.  It wasn’t the book’s fault. And… we’re moving on…

The preceding paragraph will probably be the last truly coherent one in this post.  I could write a sophisticated and erudite analysis of this film’s cinematography and its pivotal role in our modern collective consciousness’s image of Sherlock Holmes, but what fun would that be?

 

Instead, what follows are my scribbled thoughts as I made my way through the film.

 

–    As they run the credits, I am reminded that a new Holmes movie is on its way to our theaters.  I’m tentatively anticipating it. 

–    Who is this David Stewart Davies on the optional commentary?  What has he done to make him qualified to comment on this?  The booklet doesn’t say.

–    Bizarre fact: the *stars* of the film are credited 2nd & 4th.

–    I  ♥ Big Ben & foggy Baker Street.

–    Interesting how much these 1930’s movies expected their audience to read.  Not just “oh, look, something is written in the newspaper” but then leaving said paper up on the screen long enough for everyone to read the entire article.  A hold over from silent films, perhaps, or just indicative of their expectations of an intelligent, literate, participatory audience?

–    After hearing so many of the radio adventures, ‘tis strange to SEE the actors speaking with those familiar voices.

–    The bit with Watson’s deductions from the walking stick—I don’t know if I approve of his giving Watson a chance, or if I am annoyed that Holmes so gleefully knocks down his friend’s efforts.

teeth marks

–    Ah, now we know what Doctor Mortimer’s wife didn’t want him telling the coroner, but why was she so interested in keeping it a secret?

–    Ok—this just annoys me.  This “flashback/ reading the legend” scene is presented as the wacky hijinks of drunken frat-boys, complete with “sitcom-esque” music in the background.  Um…hello, Director:  this scene describes the kidnapping, rape, and murder of an under-aged girl by a sadistic aristocrat.  It lays the groundwork for why this sinister, supernatural Hound torments and murders the Baskerville family down the ages.  What WERE you thinking?

–    When compared to the previous sheaf of papers, Mortimer’s “few pages” seem to have expanded to a novella.

–    If I were Holmes, at this point, I would have yanked the pages from Mortimer by now and skimmed them myself.

–    I wonder if Rathbone was actually playing the violin here?  If so… yum!

   {wait for it.  song starts around 1:45}

–    Right off, we establish Sir Henry as handsome, generous, and polite to girls in glasses.  [see Dorothy Parker]

–    Point of order:  how will they know where to send Sir Henry’s luggage?

–    It can’t be easy to throw a stone through the side window of a moving vehicle.

–    More reading for the audience.  I’m going to stop mentioning it, and simply put a count total at the bottom of this post.  Let’s see if your count matches mine.

–    Here’s where I like Watson.  I was wondering that about the boots myself, and he asked it.

–    How much do I love male Victorian garb!  Gentlemen—you should really all wear more of this.

–    Nice bit of tension-building with the pistol, but it got me thinking {too much NCIS, clearly} how good is the sniper’s aim?  How far is the range of that dinky pistol?

–    Realism of the costumes extends to the chambermaid—no modern brassiere for her.  Couldn’t pull off that kind of accuracy nowadays.

–    What’s going on outside the window as Holmes interviews the cabbie?  A thunderstorm?

–    Sir Henry’s “Canadian” accent seems sketchy here.

–    Lovely atmospheric work on the matte paintings & studio-bound Stonehenge.

–    “If I believed all of the legends about this place, I wouldn’t live here.  I wouldn’t have the courage.”

–    Beautifully detailed paintings of Baskerville Hall.

–    I’m going to assume that the casting of Spartan-looking woman= servant who is up to no good.

–    Love Watson’s pen.  Want one.

–    Great moment with the door handle.

–    Watson and Sir Henry make a good, if bumbling, team.  Watson gets to do a bit of thinking for a change.

–    How far away WAS that light?

–    Gee, let’s hide in plain sight.  I’m sure the villain will return and ignore us completely.

–    Look out, Watson!

–    He’s right, you know.  Holmes would not want clodhopping policemen trouncing all over his investigation.

–    Sounds like a wolf to me.

–    Watson is a bit over-the-top here with Stapleton.  Why are they both so shocked to hear a woman’s voice?  Stapleton knows his sister was right behind him.

–    Was there any chance that Sir Henry WOULDN’T hear her calling him?  They were only about 4 feet apart, and she was shouting quite loudly.

–    No, no, you will not be a love interest at all.

–    Clearly, we are at the monthly dinner meeting of chops and ‘staches.

–    Poor wife looks really frightened of séance.  Why?

–    I like Franklin.  He’s spunky!

–    She does not look like the fisherman-type to me.

–    Nice how the conversation indicates that time has passed.

–    Aww.  Sweet—but awkward embrace there, and distinctly chaste.

–    Way to be prejudiced against the old peddler, everyone in this scene!  Bad!

being mean to beggar

–    Clever observation there, Watson; but you have not redeemed yourself.

–    Nice that his drawing room provides a convenient view of the exact place on all of the entire Moor where Sir Henry happens to be wandering.

–    That’s one long-burning match!

–    “What blasted impertinence!”

–    Ah—he gets you with that old chestnut every time, Watson, my lad.

–    Ok—why is Watson all shocked about “murder.”—isn’t that why ya’ll are out here on the Moor in the first place?  Have you not been paying attention?

 

So, as Watson & the newly-revealed Holmes head back to Baskerville Hall, we’ll call it a night.  More to come soon.

 

 

*** Starting from the beginning, I have so far counted 6 instances of the audience being expected to read from the screen.  Did I miss any?

Holmes ahoy!

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Right, back on track after my little deviation into fashion

I have a deep and abiding love for Sherlock Holmes, but I have recently noticed that there is a truely lamentable lack of Sherlock on my blog.  Not to worry, though.  I intend to remedy this post haste.  I’ll be watching Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” this evening and tell you all about it tomorrow.

Then you can tell me all of your favorite bits of Holmesiana.  How about that?

It looked like the footprints of an enormous hound.

"It looked like the footprints of an enormous hound."