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What about THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959)?


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#1 of 16 Dick

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Posted August 07 2012 - 04:17 PM

I do not think StudioCanal owns this, even in the U.K. I think MGM/Sony control it pretty much everywhere, but I'd love to be wrong, because this film needs a total re-boot from the mediocre non-anamorphic DVD we've suffered with all these years. Now that Hammer is on a fast track toward restoring "more than 30 of our most popular titles," I surely hope this one can be done by someone, somewhere, as I just don't see Sony getting into Hammer on Blu-ray (although, after a logn dry spell, they did finally step up to the plate with their DVD releases...).

#2 of 16 Matt Hough

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Posted August 08 2012 - 12:14 AM

As mediocre as that MGM DVD is, I find myself watching it two or three times a year. I really love the movie and would love to see MGM/Fox (I assume) do something wonderful with it on Blu-ray.



#3 of 16 Billy Batson

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Posted August 08 2012 - 12:35 AM

I'd love to see a great looking Blu of this. I love Peter Cushing's Holmes, all those big - playing to the gallery - double takes, but it works a treat (& he went on to be a really good Holmes in a BBC series). I love DOP Jack Asher's solid colours. I saw a beat up print in a cinema in the early 60's, but the colour was just great, almost 3D. Please Warner, buy back all those movies from MGM.

#4 of 16 David_B_K

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Posted August 08 2012 - 01:31 AM

I'd really like to see an upgrade from the non-anamorphic DVD as well. I agree Peter Cushing is a superb Sherlock Holmes. While Jeremy Brett received much (deserved) acclaim for the authenticity of his Holmes, Cushing gave us a very authentic portrayal in both this film and his 60's TV series. His TV version of HOUND was more faithful to the novel, but not as gripping as the movie, IMO.

#5 of 16 Richard--W

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Posted August 09 2012 - 09:45 PM

I'd buy The Hound of the Baskervilles on Blu-ray in a heartbeat. And please MGM, don't forget to port over the supplements and commentary with Christopher Lee. He is priceless. If I were writing the liner notes, I'd point out that Hammer's full-throttle thriller must have been a revelation in 1959. Audiences were accustomed to Sherlock Holmes in passive old radio plays, monochrome B-movies from the Hollywood backlot, and the then-recent Ronald Howard TV series, all pretty sedate entertainment. Hammer Film's Hound of the Baskervilles was the first Sherlock Holmes film to be shot in vivid Technicolor, on actual locations in England, to be played for real, to show violence and shed blood. Being a low-budget production, Hammer eliminated all the subplots of the novel with its attendant set changes and additional characters to concentrate on the supernatural and thriller aspects at the core of the story. It is 100% successful on its own terms. The film drips with Victorian detail and Gothic atmosphere. The power of suggestion gradually builds up to the power of depiction until it strikes a pitch on the edge of hysteria. Terence Fisher directs in stately pictorial compositions and with unerring timing. I like how, at the beginning, he brings David Oxley's Charles Baskerville into extreme close-up at the edge of focus to show us just how unhinged the man is. Later, near the end Fisher matches that shot with an extreme close-up of the Hound, growling menacingly before we see it and drooling in our face when we do. The ghostly Hound bounding across the moors has never been done more convincingly. Peter Cushing's interpretation of Holmes is way out there for 1959 simply because he plays him by-the-book -- egocentric, intolerant, deliberately rude, always one-step ahead of everybody else yet pragmatic and ingratiating. He is also allowed to be a man of action which Cushing handles with physical grace. Andre Morrell is the first to play Dr. Watson as a straghtforward lead instead of a buffoon. What a refreshing change, this serious Watson. Morrell exudes empathy and is content to let Cushing do the thinking. Spanish beauty Marla Landi is believably bitter and resentful as the poor relation stuck all alone on the moor. Christopher Lee, as Sir Henry, is so intoxicated by her beauty that he doesn't see the premeditation underneath. But director Terence Fisher gives us a hint in that marvelous shot when Landi agrees to meet Lee on the moor. She raises her head to look over his shoulder, embracing him while locking eyes with someone out of frame, her action belying her words. Landi never gets mentioned, but she is one sensational femme fatale. This is how a Sherlock Holmes film should be. Odd that the promotional art acknowledged Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but didn't mention Holmes. You'd think the character would be a box-office draw. Perhaps Hammer wanted audiences to see their film without preconceived notions. It is certainly the most sophisticated take on the character up to that time. It holds up remarkably well today. I prefer it to the newest interpretations -- which frankly are junk. Posted Image

#6 of 16 Matt Hough

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Posted August 10 2012 - 12:18 AM

Yes, I have a feeling that the Hammer folks believed their fans wouldn't be interested in a Sherlock Holmes film, but a film featuring a supernatural dog monster, well, sure.



#7 of 16 David_B_K

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Posted August 10 2012 - 02:02 AM

While I do enjoy this film, I still feel the Rathbone version of Hound is the best. One area where the Hammer film falls down IMO is the actual depiction of the Hound. [SPOILER=Warning: Spoiler!]In the Rathbone film, they used a large Great Dane that looked and acted like a dangerous and ferocious dog. In the Hammer film, a mask is put on the dog to allegedly make it appear more savage. However, when it makes its appearance, the hound looks rather small and insignificant, probably due to the over sized mask it is wearing. I think I've seen all the versions of Hound of the Baskervilles, and aside from Rathbone's they all try to over-think the depiction of the dog. The Rathbone film did not make the dog glow as it did in the novel; but it was a convincingly scary dog.[/SPOILER] I also missed the scene where Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer walk down the street in London and are stalked by the murderer in a cab while Holmes and Watson follow on foot. I think maybe Hammer did not have the budget for a populated Victorian street for that scene; so the scene in Sir Henry's hotel room with the spider was substituted in its place.

#8 of 16 Billy Batson

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Posted August 10 2012 - 04:41 AM

While I do enjoy this film, I still feel the Rathbone version of Hound is the best. One area where the Hammer film falls down IMO is the actual depiction of the Hound. [SPOILER=Warning: Spoiler!]In the Rathbone film, they used a large Great Dane that looked and acted like a dangerous and ferocious dog. In the Hammer film, a mask is put on the dog to allegedly make it appear more savage. However, when it makes its appearance, the hound looks rather small and insignificant, probably due to the over sized mask it is wearing. I think I've seen all the versions of Hound of the Baskervilles, and aside from Rathbone's they all try to over-think the depiction of the dog. The Rathbone film did not make the dog glow as it did in the novel; but it was a convincingly scary dog.[/SPOILER] I also missed the scene where Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer walk down the street in London and are stalked by the murderer in a cab while Holmes and Watson follow on foot. I think maybe Hammer did not have the budget for a populated Victorian street for that scene; so the scene in Sir Henry's hotel room with the spider was substituted in its place.

The Rathbone film is terriffic, I'd hate to have to choose between the two (but Watson is too much of a buffoon in the Rathbone films). The great thing about the Hammer is that it's shot & scored like a horror film, & is really striking to look at. I have to think that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have approved.

#9 of 16 David_B_K

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Posted August 10 2012 - 06:05 AM

Yes, the approach they took by casting Nigel Bruce is baffling. He isn't quite so bad in the two Victorian films (but wrong, nonetheless); but he becomes almost brain-dead in the Universal series. The irony is that he seemed so old in the films but was younger than Rathbone. I agree about the lurid approach of the Hammer Hound, which I found quite effective. The Rathbone film didn't even have a music score aside from the titles.

#10 of 16 Mark Oates

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Posted August 10 2012 - 06:34 AM

I'll not hear a word said against "Willie" Bruce. He was one of a breed of affable, scatterbrained older gentlemen characters much used by Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s as comedy relief. If you must complain about the character of Dr John H. Watson, blame the likes of Roy William Neill for turning a steadfast companion into a boob. Bruce himself is quoted as saying To begin with, Basil and I were much opposed to the modernising of these stories but the producer, Howard Benedict, pointed out to us that the majority of youngsters who would see our pictures were accustomed to the fast-moving action of gangster pictures, and that expecting machine guns, police sirens, cars travelling at 80 miles an hour and dialogue such as 'Put em up bud', they would be bored with the magnifying glass, the hansom cabs, the cobblestones and the slow tempo of an era they never knew and a way of life with which they were completely unfamiliar. Bruce's Watson, and the films themselves with their overt propaganda, are products of the time they were made. They have more in common with the other thriller series of the time - the Charlie Chans, the Saints, the Falcons and the Thin Man pictures than they do with Conan Doyle's novels and short stories. The hero being called Sherlock Holmes is practically incidental and for my money the series shouldn't be criticised for straying from the Holmes canon.
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#11 of 16 David_B_K

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Posted August 10 2012 - 09:49 AM

I'll not hear a word said against "Willie" Bruce. He was one of a breed of affable, scatterbrained older gentlemen characters much used by Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s as comedy relief. If you must complain about the character of Dr John H. Watson, blame the likes of Roy William Neill for turning a steadfast companion into a boob.

Sigh...yet again on the internet offense is taken when none is meant. I said I did not like Nigel Bruce's portrayal of Watson in the Rathbone films. This statement in no way was an attack on Nigel Bruce, his acting talent, or his character. If any of his fans and heirs took offense at my words, I do sincerely apologize. If Roy William Neil is to blame for the bumbling oaf portrayal of Watson, then, sure, we can blame him; whatever... FWIW, I enjoy Nigel Bruce as an actor. I even enjoy the "modern" Sherlock Holmes films of Rathbone and Bruce. I have the Blu-ray set, and watched them earlier this year for the first time in years. I thought they did a great job of combining wartime propaganda with story fragments from the Doyle stories. The running plot in Pursuit to Algiers, of Watson and the song "Flow Gently Sweet Afton" is quite amusing. It is enjoyable to see in the course of the films that Rathbone's Holmes is somewhat protective of Bruce's bumbling Watson. That relationship is not really from Doyle, but was enjoyable in those films as what it was. In any case, to get back on topic, Andre Morrell's portrayal of the good doctor in the Hammer Hound is more faithful to Doyle's Watson, IMO.

#12 of 16 Mark Oates

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Posted August 10 2012 - 12:23 PM

Holy crap, I'm sorry you thought I was taking offence. None was taken and I apologise for giving that impression. My post was intended to be jocular and failed miserably. As Alan said, Peter Cushing played Holmes again in 1968 for BBCtv, with Nigel Stock playing Watson. The BBC version of Hound is a fairly stylish enterprise in itself but a very different beastie from the Hammer version.
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#13 of 16 bgart13

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Posted August 10 2012 - 03:24 PM

The HD version shown on MGM HD is gorgeous. I hope it comes to bd one day!

#14 of 16 Will Krupp

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Posted August 10 2012 - 11:28 PM

While I own the old MGM DVD I have to admit to having always wanted to like this film more than I do.  It seems so terribly cheap and SMALL to me and I hate the "juiced up" changes to the denouement.  That being said, I think the performances are great (love Cushing's Holmes) and the color photography is stunning.  I have always loved the real sense of menace that abounds (maybe because I'm always expecting Dracula to pop up around every corner!) and I would welcome an upgrade (it's one of those movies that, even though I don't love, I can't help returning to.)  The 1939 though, is the hands down winner for me when I think of HOUND.



#15 of 16 Professor Echo

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Posted August 11 2012 - 04:53 AM

The MGM HD Channel has shown this in 1080p anamorphic widescreen and it looked excellent.



#16 of 16 Billy Batson

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Posted August 11 2012 - 05:31 AM

The MGM HD Channel has shown this in 1080p anamorphic widescreen and it looked excellent.

Mmm, maybe a Blu from Germany. They've released The Haunted Palace & are releasing The Premature Burial from the same owners (MGM), & this would be right up their street.