The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988)
Created: Sat Jun 19 20:35:45 2010 | Last modified: Sun Jun 20 14:57:54 2010
Starring: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Kristoffer Tabori
Produced by: Granada Television
External Link: IMDb
Jeremy Brett's has always appealed to me as being the closest match to the famous and enigmatic literary character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Granada's TV series has remained true and faithful to most of the scripts in the short stories.
First the positives. Brett as Holmes is a touch subdued yet retains his magic as the man to play the part. Hardwicke as Watson is adequate, but for this particular story I would have preferred David Burke, who is far more expressive and intense and this role would have suited him perfectly. I feel Brett and Burke had a far better chemistry as Holmes and Watson. The casting otherwise is as good as you can get. The setting and scenic beauty of Grimpen Mire and Dartmoor is beautifully captured. The atmosphere remains true to the original novel which was dark, desolate and a touch grandiose. The acting is perfect - neither melodramatic nor excessively subdued, the actors do justice to their respective characters.
However, watching "The Hound" I felt a little shortchanged. I don't grudge the fact that Jeremy Brett has lesser screen time - after all it is part of the story that Holmes stays away from the scene most of the time and appears in time to bring about the climax. But the fact that the movie has essentially done away with key plot elements or abridged them seem to me to do injustice to the great setting and the cast of characters who play their roles to a tee.
Brett looks tired and jaded (he was ill about that time) in this appearance, yet retains the magic of his persona - well enough to carry through the story. Yet the missing pieces of the story would grate the Holmes purist. For instance, the taxi-cab episode from the original story, which is actually the thrilling portion of the first half, is entirely missing (Stapleton's audacious message to Holmes through the cab driver would have made for an excellent scene). Again, the subplot regarding the Notting Hill murderer Selden is somewhat abridged. This is understandable, but again leaves one feeling a touch disappointed. Finally, the slower build-up of tension towards the climax is missing. Much as I can sympathize with Dr. Mortimer, he is not Lestrade - and it is Lestrade who arrives on the scene to help Holmes and Watson nail the criminal in the end. Through Lestrade's presence in the novel, we actually got a feel of real crime and the gravity of the situation.
The explanatory parts about the Hound legend are suitably curtailed - and yet those were the fascinating parts of the actual novel.
I rate it 3.5/5. Still worth watching if you're a Sherlock Holmes fan.