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Doctor Mortimer (Lionel Atwill) pays a visit to Sherlock Holmes (Basil
Rathbone) to ask him to guard Sir Henry (Richard Greene), who is presently
returning to Dartmoor from Canada to take over the Baskerville estate from
his recently deceased uncle - a man who has died from a heart attack,
induced by the mysterious hound of the Baskervilles, as many believe.
Holmes though claims to have little interest in playing nursemaid to the
man, whose biggest worry it seems to be to have lost a boot - but sends
his friend Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce) to Dartmoor to accompany Sir Henry.
Once at his estate, Sir Henry is quick to romance neighbouring lady Beryl
Stapleton (Wendy Barrie), who lives right across the moor from the
Baskerville estate with her brother John (Morton Lowry). Apart from that,
Henry and Watson soon find out that the estate's butler (John Carradine)
and maid (Eily Malyon), the Barrymans, have something to do with an
escaped convict (Nigel De Brulier) hiding out in the moor, who will
eventually turn out to be Mrs Barryman's brother and who will be killed by
what appears to be the hound of the Baskervilles. This is also when
Sherlock Holmes shows up again, claiming to have watched over everything
in disguise, and stating that now that the convict is dead, the threat for
Sir Henry's life is over, and he hastens to get back to London along with
Watson, while Sir Henry plans on celebrating his engagement to Lady Beryl.
Of course, Sir Henry's life is still very much in danger, and Holmes
knows that so he has pretended to leave and to lure the murderer, who
thinks he is luring Sir Henry into a trap, into a trap himself. And
really, that night, when walking through the moor, Sir Henry is attacked
by a hound, a hound released by John Stapleton actually, and he is only
just saved by Holmes and Watson, who kill the hound, actually nothing more
than an ordinary (yet big and dangerous) dog who had been trained on Sir
Henry's scent using his stolen boot (see above). Stapleton however manages
to lock Holmes in and then tries to make another attempt on Sir Henry's
life, who of course doesn't know that Stapleton's the culprit of the piece
yet - but Holmes manages to free himself and tend to the killer just in
But why has Stapleton done it?
Because unbeknowest to
everybody, he is a Baskerville himself, and with Sir Henry's death, he
would inherit his estate. Beryl had no idea about all of this, and
eventually, she will marry Sir Henry and move to Canada with him ...
immensely popular version of The Hounde of the Baskervilles that
actually spawned a whole series of Sherlock Holmes features,
this is however far from the best adaptation of the story, at least from
today's point of view, and the main problem of the film is its focus:
Instead of presenting the audience with a detective story with horror
overtones, this is a love story (between Sir Henry and Lady Beryl) with a
bit of mystery thrown in, and Richard Greene as loverboy gives one of his
weaker performances, especially when compared to Basil Rathbone, who is
sharp as usual. And the lovestory angle of the movie causes it to totally
lose steam about halfway through, so much so that the appearance of
Sherlock Holmes in Dartmoor comes at a rather random point of the
storyline, and when Stapleton is revealed to be the killer, this also
lacks proper build-up. Plus, Sherlock Holmes is way too much an obvious do-gooder in this one,
compared to other versions. Sure, at least Basil Rathbone's a good Sherlock,
the rest of the cast is pretty fine too, and the sets are at least
adequate, but without a decent script and a more poignant direction, all
of this doesn't necessarily make a good film.