THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

(1988 - UK Television)
With Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Raymond Adamson, Neil Duncan
Directed by Brian Mills
Reviewed by JB

It's the 'Ound, 'Olmes!     All film adaptations of Conan Doyle's excellent novel The Hound of the Baskervilles suffer from one unavoidable problem - the revelation of the legendary hellish hound itself can never live up to expectations.  There is also the matter of Hound being a Sherlock Holmes story in which Holmes himself is missing in action for much of the time, leaving the stage to the good Dr. Watson. 

     In this long form entry in to the outstanding British series of Sherlock Holmes stories starring Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke is as good a Watson as ever there was, yet the film begins to lag the minute Brett is offscreen and comes to life once again when he returns.  It is not Hardwicke's fault, but rather the nature of the story itself if adapted faithfully.  It is Watson this time who goes about quietly collecting clues, which he relates back to Holmes via the mail.  There is much walking about the English moor, standing around smoking cigars with Sir Henry Baskerville (nicely played by Raymond Adamson) and sitting at a desk writing letters, but there is little action.  Brett, who was recovering from illness during the production, is not as sharp or energetic as he usually is as the great detective, which adds to the production's problems.  And the sections with the legendary hound itself are poorly filmed and badly edited.  

     Enough of Brett's genius and his rapport with Hardwicke shine through to make the film passable entertainment, but compared to the short episodes of this great British series, the feature length THE SIGN OF FOUR, and several previous film versions of Doyle's novel, this Hound lacks both bark and bite. 2½ - JB  

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