Sunday, 11 January 2015

5 + 1 screen adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles

It is quite safe to say that The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most well-known of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson's many adventures. One can only imagine what a craze it induced in 1901 when it started appearing in The Strand Magazine in serial form eight years after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's pen tipped Mr Holmes down the Reichenbach Falls, and nowadays it serves as an introduction to Sherlock Holmes for many curious readers – despite the fact that A Study in Scarlet is the first book in the Holmes canon, in publishing order as well as chronologically.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is also by far the most screen-adapted Holmes story. There have been films, TV films and serials all across the globe by various production companies – the BBC alone has commissioned three adaptations of this story over the years. As I liked the book so much and the long, long list of screen adaptations looked like a rather fun field for investigation, I set out on a mission to find The Best Adaptation. I'll admit right now, though, that I've only watched through five (plus one) of them so far. I picked out the ones that are most well-known, easily available, and represent different decades in film and television history.

So, here's a condensed list of the adaptations I'll be comparing, before I go into them in more detail:

  • The 20th Century Fox film from 1939, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson
  • The Hammer film from 1959, starring Peter Cushing and André Morell
  • The BBC serial from 1982, starring Tom Baker and Terence Rigby
  • The Granada TV film from 1988, starring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwick
  • The BBC TV film from 2002, starring Richard Roxburgh and Ian Hart
  • ... and what's with the "+ 1"??? You'll find out... Or you might have guessed already. 
In order to make a fair comparison of all these very diverse adaptations, I also made up a list of certain points of assessment – these are elements that, having read the original novel, I feel are important to have in a good adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The elements I'm going to compare in all of these adaptations are: 
  • Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson – how they work as individual characters, but most importantly what their relationship is like. Do they have the all-important chemistry with each other? Do both of them get enough to do? I'm paying special attention to their reunion scene as I think that's an excellent marker on how the screenwriter, director and actors perceive the Holmes&Watson dynamic.
  • The supporting cast. One of my favorite things about the book was Sir Henry's neighbours! Therefore, a good adaptation has to have memorable supporting characters, and if they actually match with their book counterparts, that's a definite plus. I'm going to mention the supporting characters that made the biggest impression on me, good or bad. Just to be clear, Sir Henry will also be considered a supporting character – I know it might be a bit of a stretch, especially as he actually gets top billing in one of the adaptations, but I don't want a third wheel in the Holmes&Watson space! Oh, and if you've read my review on the novel, you'll know how important dear Dr Mortimer is to me – any adaptation that doesn't get him right simply can't get into my good books, at least not entirely.
  • The Dartmoor setting. In the book, there's a complete change in atmosphere as the setting moves to Sir Henry's home in Dartmoor, and I want to see that on screen as well. I want to feel the bleakness and danger on the moor and the depressing heaviness of Baskerville Hall that Dr Watson describes to Holmes in his reports.
  • The flow of the story. Whether it's a film or a miniseries, the plot has to advance and build up the story and the characters to relevant directions. Adapting from book to screen always involves adding scenes here and chopping off from there, but some screenwriters succeed better than others. Adding completely pointless scenes and inducing boredom while watching will be frowned upon.
  • The final hound chase scene. It's not just one scene among the others – everyone spends so much time speculating about the old legend and whether there's really a hound on the moor, that when it finally appears, it had better pay off. 

Now that I've made clear how I'll be comparing the different adaptations, let's finally move on to business! Here are the five screen adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles that I've chosen for this post, in chronological order.


Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce film, 1939


Left to right: Dr Watson, Dr Mortimer, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Henry

Screenplay by Ernest Pascal
Directed by Sidney Canfield
Running time 1 h 20 min

Holmes and Watson
This is kind of a sad situation. I really like watching Rathbone's Holmes, he very much looks the part and has got so much style. Nigel Bruce's Watson, however, is a complete idiot. There's just no other way to put it. Dr Watson in this film speaks almost exclusively in questions and is made such a dumb sidekick that it just makes me cringe cringe cringe from start to finish. If Sherlock Holmes is supposed to possess such a superior brain, why on Earth does he put up with this film's Watson? Why does he send him off to Dartmoor as Sir Henry's protection, or let him carry a gun? How did this Dr Watson even graduate from medical school?! The reunion scene is the most cringe-worthy in the entire film. First, Holmes shows up in a disguise and Watson... he... tries to face off the "stranger" by loudly claiming that he's the Great Sherlock Holmes. This scene would be a total head-desk moment even if Holmes himself wasn't standing right next to him, listening to it all. Then he reveals himself to Watson, who spends the rest of the scene sulking like a little kid. This, dear audience, is what 1939 Hollywood made of the most notorious friendship portrayed in literature. 

The supporting cast
Richard Greene, who plays Sir Henry, was billed as the main actor in this film because he was, at the time, more well-known than Rathbone and Bruce, for whom this was the first in a series of Sherlock Holmes films. Greene is pretty much the typical, romantic male lead that films in those days and for decades since liked to have, but he plays the part charmingly enough. Wendy Barrie as Beryl Stapleton is quite a lifeless "pretty blonde girl" and her accent is terrible, which is quite bizarre as the actress is actually English! The household staff at Baskerville Hall are called Mr and Mrs Barryman for some unfathomable reason. Mr Frankland is particularly entertaining in this adaptation, whereas Dr Mortimer is an occultist who holds séances with his wife... Yes, you read that correctly. Isn't it just terrible? He doesn't even obsess about skulls in this film. Apparently, skull-collecting is a much more suitable hobby for the film's baddie than butterfly-collecting, so they give Dr Mortimer's skulls to Stapleton in this film. No one, I repeat, NO ONE should ever ever ever take Dr Mortimer's skulls from him. This blogger is not happy. 

The Dartmoor setting
I'm actually giggling to myself now, because I'm about to write: this movie has a Stonehenge in Dartmoor. I didn't find myself much affected by the atmosphere in Dartmoor while watching this, but then again I often have that problem with black-and-white films. I also remember reading somewhere that they had to stage all the moor scenes in the studio, which of course sets some limitations. But even with budgetary restrictions, they just had to have that Stonehenge where it doesn't belong. 

The story
This screenplay actually works really well in some places. It opens with Sir Charles' death, while the hound howls on the moor. We then see the Barrymans, the Stapletons, the Mortimers and Mr Frankland being questioned about the circumstances of Sir Charles' death before we get to 221b Baker Street. Sir Henry's arrival in England shows his new status as a highly desirable bachelor, which is a good addition. Later on, there's quite a well-placed scene where Sir Henry is about to stumble into the mire when Miss Stapleton, who's out riding, warns him. In the book, the affection between these two seems to build up rather quickly with little justification besides "he's a dashing young man and she's a pretty girl", but this film actually manages to build some sort of a groundwork for it. Also, I just have to mention that Miss Stapleton's horse is really pretty. The flashback to Sir Hugo and the beginnings of the hound legend is a bit clumsy, but the gravest offense that this film commits storytelling-wise is that completely unnecessary spirit séance conducted by Dr Mortimer's wife. It. Is. Pointless!

The hound chase
This scene might have benefited from some tension-building background music. There's just a lot of running around on the moor, Sir Henry wrestles with the hound a bit and doesn't seem to be in very much mortal danger, then Holmes and Watson fire some shots and the hound limps away. It seems like the filmmakers wanted to quickly wrap this scene away so that Stapleton could lock Sherlock Holmes in a Neolithic grave in the next one. 


Peter Cushing & André Morell film, 1959


Screenplay by Peter Bryan
Directed by Terence Fisher
Running time 1 h 27 min

Holmes and Watson
Here we have my favorite Holmes&Watson duo out of all these adaptations. Peter Cushing's Sherlock Holmes possesses the exceptional intellect as well as the social quirks of the great sleuth, you really get the feeling that this man's mind works differently than the average person's. André Morell gives us a Dr Watson who is not only watchable, but actually capable. This film, more than all the others in this posts, shows how Dr Watson is useful to Holmes in other ways besides sending him reports. The two have a couple of really nice scenes together where Holmes and Watson discuss the case and this genuinely helps Holmes make sense of everything that's going on and enables him to reach his conclusion. Their reunion scene is quite unique in that there's very little talking about and the duo almost immediately jump back into action. This wouldn't work at all if the actors weren't so good at communicating through their expressions. You get the feeling that these two have worked together so long and have perfected their dynamics to such extent that they simply don't need to exchange too many words about why Holmes was secretly hiding on the moor. The film ends with the two of them having tea back at Baker Street in perfect harmony. It's lovely.

The supporting cast
We obviously have to talk about Sir Christopher Lee first. He plays Sir Henry and boy is he dashing. He's quite good at acting too, in case you didn't know. He works wonderfully in the role, but I'm sorry to say the rest of the supporting cast don't. The most mind-boggling of all is Miss Stapleton, who is now called Cecile. In the 1939 we had a stereotypical bland blonde; here we have a stereotypical exotic bad girl who runs around the moor barefoot and is bitchy to everyone for no apparent reason... except, it turns out that she's totally with Stapleton in his evil plans – and Stapleton is her daddy. Marla Landi does quite a bit of hilarious over-acting and it doesn't help at all that she's struggling with the fake Spanish accent. Yes, this film takes quite many liberties with the source material... Frankland is a batty old bishop and Dr Mortimer isn't really Dr Mortimer at all.

The Dartmoor setting
The outdoor locations are quite stunning here, but it doesn't really look like Dartmoor at all. There's no mist hanging about, we get pretty sunsets instead. Baskerville Hall is quite dark and creaky, which is good. This was the first Hound of the Baskervilles film in colour!

The story
This adaptation deviates from the original book most of all, and the changes and additions don't always seem to serve the plot entirely. There's an unnecessary tarantula in Sir Henry's boot, lots of talk about an ancient blood rite that doesn't seem to serve any purpose, and quite a long scene down in a mining shaft that similarly doesn't take the plot much anywhere. Sir Henry has a heart condition, the only function of which is that Dr Mortimer can point out that Sir Charles had a similar problem. Some of the long conversations could do with a bit of chopping. Then again, there are some genuinely suspenseful moments, and all those good scenes with Holmes and Watson that I mentioned earlier. This film opens with the horrible history of Sir Hugo, which is quite a good move because all the other adaptations have a bit of a struggle slapping in a flashback while Dr Mortimer presents the case.

The hound chase
Cecile Stapleton pretends to take Sir Henry out on a romantic walk but then leads him straight where Daddy Stapleton awaits with the hound, who is supposed to look more terrifying with a funny mask on. Cecile makes some pretty comical facial expressions when Holmes and Watson turn up, but at least Sir Christopher Lee knows how to act properly terrified while being mauled by the hound. His paralyzed expression when it's all over and he realizes that Cecile betrayed him is especially heart-wrenching. 


Tom Baker & Terence Rigby serial, 1982


Screenplay by Alexander Baron
Directed by Peter Duguid
Running time 4 x 25 min

Holmes and Watson
Tom Baker's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes doesn't seem to be very popular – most people seem to think he hadn't quite managed yet to let go of his role as the Doctor. Well, I have to say I quite liked watching him. I haven't seen any of his Doctor Who episodes, so maybe that keeps me from drawing comparisons between those two roles. Terence Rigby, on the other hand, is a ridiculously annoying Dr Watson. Only Nigel Bruce can top his Watson in uselessness. He doesn't do much anything in any scenes, he just stands in the sidelines! I can't really say anything about the dynamic between Holmes and Watson because there doesn't seem to be any. I can't even remember what their reunion scene was like. 

The supporting cast
This is the first adaptation in the list that includes Laura Lyons, and Caroline Shaw is by far the best actress in that role. She delivers the bitterness of the abandoned wife most excellently. The Barrymores are also very book-accurate, as is Stapleton, who doesn't immediately get the "bad guy" stamp on his appearance – in the book, too, he seems like a perfectly normal man, until the very end. I like it very much that this serial stays truthful to that. The best bit, however, is dear Dr Mortimer. Finally, an accurate Dr Mortimer! He even obsesses about Holmes' parietal fissure! Thank you so much! Sir Henry is a bit bad-tempered and abrasive in this version, which is bizarre but doesn't fatally ruin anything.

The Dartmoor setting
Well, this looks like Dartmoor finally. Baskerville Hall seems quite comfy in this version, and the background music doesn't really up the atmosphere – it's actually quite terrible throughout the series. The first time the hound howled, the sound effect was so unconvincing that I actually missed it completely and then wondered for a while why all the characters suddenly looked so frightened. 

The story
A serial format always runs the risk of dragging in some places, but this one keeps the pace very well throughout. Each 25-minute episode ends with a nice cliffhanger. The screenplay is very faithful to the book so it doesn't commit any horrible travesty by changing things around unnecessarily, but neither does it attempt to make any creative choices that would make watching more interesting for someone who already knows what's going to happen. 

The hound chase
Oh, the music is so terrible that it ruins the whole scene. The hound looks ludicrous and there's something a little off about the editing when it attacks Sir Henry. 


Jeremy Brett & Edward Hardwicke TV film, 1988

Dr Watson, Dr Mortimer <3 and Sherlock Holmes

Screenplay by Trevor Bowen
Directed by Brian Mills
Running time 1 h 45 min

Holmes and Watson
Please don't fling your deerstalkers at me when I say I haven't really warmed up to the Granada series like most of the population has. I don't find any particular fault with it, or the two lead actors Brett and Hardwicke, but it's not my cup of tea. Jeremy Brett's dedication for his role shows throughout the series, but I also can't help noticing his deteriorating health. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, the close-up shots already show a man not in the best health, and it makes me sad. Edward Hardwicke's Dr Watson isn't stupid at all, which is wonderful. He's steady and loyal, if a tad bit too "safe" in my opinion. This adaptation has the best Holmes & Watson reunion scene, though. As in the 1959 film, you get the impression of true partnership. Added bonus for displaying Holmes' lack of culinary abilities, and Watson's delightful frankness when he tells him so.

The supporting cast
Alright, Dr Mortimer in the 1982 miniseries was amazing, but this one is... absolutely perfect! I'm actually working really hard now to restrain myself from filling this section with hearts, smiley faces and exclamation marks. Alastair Duncan's portrayal of Dr Mortimer will be a never-ending source of happiness for me, proving just how perfectly a literary character can be transferred to screen on a rare occasion. I love the scene at Baker Street where he lets his spaniel jump on the furniture, completely oblivious to Holmes' disapproval – and the scene where he shows Dr Watson his recently unearthed skull. Oh my. Right, there were probably some other supporting characters in this film too that I should mention... Yes, Stapleton. He's really good in this too and sticks to his book-accurate pastime of butterfly hunting. Laura Lyons is included as well, but she isn't very impressive. To tell the truth, I always find the female characters in the Granada series bizarrely bland! They even managed to make a flat Irene Adler and Violet Hunter, how weird is that! Does anybody else feel this way? 

The Dartmoor setting
I don't seem to have anything important to say about this point, which probably means that I felt the setting worked reasonably well but didn't impress me in any particular way. This is what I mostly feel like when watching the Granada series. 

The story
The pacing dragged a tiny bit now and then, but I really liked what this film did with the middle part where Holmes is apparently absent from the story. There are little scenes sprinkled here and there that show someone collecting Watson's letters from the post office, and a close-up of Holmes' boots right before the reunion scene. Good work. You might also guess that I wasn't bothered at all that Dr Mortimer's role was expanded a little in this. He sits around with Dr Watson when he tracks down the mysterious "man on the tor" and replaces Lestrade in the hound attack scene.

The hound chase
The hound isn't terribly frightening, but the atmosphere is suitably eerie and Sir Henry seems genuinely affected by the attack. The composer was much better than the one in the 1982 serial!


Richard Roxburgh & Ian Hart TV film, 2002

Holmes on the right, Watson on the left

Screenplay by Allan Cubitt
Directed by David Attwood
Running time 1 h 40 min

Holmes and Watson
This film does the weirdest thing with the friendship of Holmes and Watson; they seem so fed up with each other I'm quite surprised they're living together in the first place. There's nothing Holmesian whatsoever in Richard Roxburgh's portrayal, and there's a terrible scene after Mortimer has presented the case where Holmes calls Watson an idiot, slams the door to his face and retreats to shoot up cocaine in peace. Um, did Allan Cubitt just completely ignore the bit in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories which clearly states that Holmes would only seek for stimulation in drugs if he didn't have a case to work on? So why is he now doing it right after he's been given a case? Watson is only fractionally better portrayed than his partner – I initially liked having a Watson who's closer to Holmes in age and portrays the rarely seen kind of Watson whom you can actually believe has seen the Afghan war and knows damn well how to handle a gun. There's also a nice detail about him being unbeatable at billiards. But then it appears that Ian Hart brings very little life and soul to the character. He's bad-tempered and surly most of the time, though that's quite understandable considering what an abrasive Holmes he's paired up with, and his last words in the film are: "I don't trust you, Holmes." ...Excuse me, what

The supporting cast 
So the leads are cringy, but hey, here we have the best Beryl Stapleton in the bunch. She's very pretty and, most importantly, she seems capable of showing real emotions, especially towards Sir Henry, with whom she has a couple of useful extra scenes. Sir Henry's character is perhaps a little overdone, but this film makes the most effort in exploring what it must have felt like for him, suddenly learning that he's heir to a large property on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. There's a particularly clever scene where he sits at the dinner table and looks furtively at the paintings of his ancestors, clearly feeling quite out of place. Richard E. Grant plays Stapleton, and he's a bit too obviously evil from the very beginning. And once again, Stapleton steals Mortimer's skulls. Mortimer himself has nothing to do with his literary counterpart. Aargh. 

The Dartmoor setting
Whatever the numerous faults with this film, I can honestly say that the cinematography is excellent. This is the only version that manages to build up real tension when Sir Henry and Dr Watson arrive at Baskerville Hall. I actually felt the chills on their journey there, it was so well shot. Baskerville Hall is quite gorgeous too.

The story
I like the beginning. It shows the prisoner Selden being pursued by policemen across the chilly moor, and we get quite a disturbing glimpse of how fatal the mire can be. This film then takes a leaf out of the 1939 film's book and shows how the investigation of Sir Charles' death proceeds, and this is very well done. Unfortunately, the film also recreates the damned séance scene which, once again, is completely useless. There are some extra scenes that give more depth to some characters, though in the case of Holmes and Watson it only works to highlight their incompatibility... At one point there's a time jump and suddenly it's Christmas! There's a huge party at Baskerville Hall, and there's a really stupid play for the guests' entertainment. Well, not a play exactly, just people tottering around in costumes. One of them is dressed as a black dog which I suppose was meant to be ominous foreshadowing, but I was laughing too hard at this point to pay attention to it. Laura Lyons doesn't exist in this film, so there is no explanation to why Sir Charles was waiting around outdoors in the first place.

The hound chase
Well, the hound in this version shows that special effects have progressed a little since the '80s though it could have been done much better, otherwise there isn't much to say. There's such an awful lot happening after the climax that it kind of diverts the viewer's attention. Beryl Stapleton is found dead. That's just awful and unnecessary. Watson gets shot, which enables Holmes to be suddenly concerned for his companion's welfare for a while, which is quite unexpected given how he's been acting earlier. Holmes follows Stapleton to the mire, where he almost drowns himself, but Watson comes to the rescue. I get the feeling that the screenplay started off wanting to cook up as much friction as possible between Holmes and Watson, then, after the hound chase, it suddenly occurred to it that this relationship should develop somehow and these guys were actually supposed to be friends – hence the shooting and drowning. All this forced development then amounts to nothing as Watson utters his last words.

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Now, did I find The Best Adaptation among all of these? Well, as you can see from my assessments, each of these five adaptations has something good about it. Sometimes they fail miserably in some areas, and at times they play too safe. Overall, I think the Granada version manages to deliver a most consistent adaptation, but for me it's not the kind of Favourite Adaptation that I would absolutely want in my DVD collection, though I would like to keep that Dr Mortimer. So, I'm still waiting to see an adaptation that does proper justice to the main characters and their partnership, doesn't ruin any of the supporting characters, delivers the haunting atmosphere of Dartmoor, and gives us a properly scary hound.

What about that mysterious "plus one", then? Dear readers, that is actually my favourite Hound adaptation but I couldn't place it alongside the others because... yes, it's the Sherlock episode "Hounds of Baskerville"! As it is a modern re-telling rather than an adaptation of the book, with different locations, characters and plot points, it isn't entirely comparable with the rest of the list. However... as it is a very good re-telling, it actually delivers all of the five elements that I was looking for in a Hound screen adaptation. Let's take a look.

"The Hounds of Baskerville" in Sherlock, 2012


Screenplay by Mark Gatiss
Directed by Paul McGuigan
Running time 1 h 28 min

Holmes and Watson
I'm going to be writing more about Sherlock in a couple of days, so I'll save most of my raving about how perfectly cast and portrayed the lead characters are for that post. These two are my favourite Holmes and Watson without a doubt, and I love watching how their friendship evolves throughout the series as well as in this episode alone. In this version, Sherlock comes to Dartmoor with John and Henry in the first place, so there isn't a reunion scene – however, I think the "I don't have friends. I've just got one." scene serves a similar function, and I love that moment to bits. 

The supporting cast
So, instead of upper-class Dartmoor residents we've got a severely traumatized Henry Knight, a couple of whitecoats and army officers at a military base, and Henry's therapist. The supporting characters pay homage to the book counterparts in familiar names, but they function very differently. They all serve a purpose, however, and are very memorable. I like Doctor Stapleton especially, and the two innkeepers who were added in.

The Dartmoor setting
I love the locations in this episode. Changing Baskerville Hall from a shady, ancestral mansion to a blindingly white-walled, sinister army base is a brilliant modern update. It's absolutely scary, as is Dewer's Hollow. The editing and the music set the increasingly tense atmosphere excellently.

The story
This episode explores how fear works in the human mind, and it's quite compelling. Numerous red herrings are thrown around involving sugar, Morse code and an actual dog. It's one of my favourite episodes in Sherlock overall! It doesn't go by the original book, but pays homage to it in brilliant little ways.

The hound chase
We don't know till the very end of this scene whether the hound is real or drug-induced... or both. Once again the editing, and the unique visual style employed in Sherlock, really works to up the adrenalin. 

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Have you seen The Hound of the Baskervilles adapted to the screen? Which one do you like most out of my list? Can you recommend an adaptation that wasn't mentioned in this post? What do you think are the ingredients for a great Hound adaptation? Let's get some proper discussion going in the comments!

Oh, by the way, there's also an episode in Elementary called "The Hound of the Cancer Cells". It has nothing to do with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle except the clumsy wordplay in the title.


11 comments:

  1. Brilliant! This post is so wonderfully detailed! I love it!

    - The Hounds of Baskerville is the only adaptation of the story that I've seen but judging from what you've said about the others I don't think that my mind is going to change. As for the ingredients on what makes a great Hound adaptation, I think the atmosphere is extremely important thing. It has to be creepy and mysterious without turning into a full-on horror story. The pacing is important - because it's one of the longer Holmes stories it's important that they don't rush it. And it HAS to have a very likeable Watson because this story is one of those rare occasions when he really gets the time to shine. In fact with this story it's really more important that they get a great Watson than a great Holmes.

    - I love this quote from you... "No one, I repeat, NO ONE should ever ever ever take Dr Mortimer's skulls from him. This blogger is not happy." That definitely made me smile. Look, I'm smiling right now for you! :D

    - Going back to what you were saying about the Basil Rathbone version, yeah, accuracy to the books really doesn't seem like a very high priority with Old Hollywood adaptations. And they put Stonehenge in it?! Well at least it's not as bad as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where Robin Hood walks almost the entire length of England in a single day. Look Hollywood, I know England is a lot smaller than America but we're not THAT small!

    - I do really want to see the Hammer Horror version. Despite those faults you mentioned it still sounds good and I want to see Peter Cushing act in something apart from Star Wars. Also, I love Sir Christopher Lee. He's one of the coolest men alive imo.

    - I haven't heard great things about Tom Baker's performance as Sherlock Holmes but I'll probably watch it at some point. There's an awesome Doctor Who serial called The Talons of Weng Chiang that I think you'd really enjoy. I don't know if I've mentioned it you before? It's one of those Tom Baker stories and it's set in Victorian London. It's got an awesome atmosphere, Sherlock Holmes and Phantom of the Opera references, and really fun and memorable characters.

    - Your post isn't the only negative opinion of the ITV Granada series that I've come across so you're definitely not alone, but most of the things that I've heard have been extremely positive so I'm still really keen to see it. And I'm sure I'll love Jeremy Brett as Holmes because he was friends with Benedict Cumberbatch's parents and BC has admitted to borrowing some of his mannerisms.

    - Oh, the modern ITV version sounds so awful and yet I still want to see it! What's wrong with me?!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post and that I even made you smile! I had enormous fun writing it up at 3 in the morning :D

      I've seen Prince of Thieves once but didn't recall that walk through England! I mostly just remember Kevin Costner's accent... Oh goodness, what were they thinking?

      I would really like to hear your opinion on the Hammer and Granada films especially! And yes, watching a young Christopher Lee is definitely a treat ;)

      I totally understand what you mean by being curious about something that sounds awful. If I weren't such a media masochist myself, I would never have got through watching two seasons of Elementary alive... More on that in a couple of days!

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    2. Oh, yeah! Robin Hood and his friend land at Dover and then Robin Hood says something like "We will reach the forest by nightfall!" And I'm thinking "What? As in, Sherwood Forest? The forest that's hundreds of miles away?!" And then it gets even worse because they stop at Hadrian's Wall along the way and of course that's right up by Scotland and even further away than Sherwood Forest! Urgh. And yes, Kevin Costner's accent! It's really bizarre because in the early scenes in the film it sounds as though he's trying to do an English accent but then after that he just gives up and uses an American accent the whole time :S

      Wow, you managed two whole seasons of Elementary?! Wow, that's, I mean, wow. You're committed! I'm looking forward to what you have to say. I imagine it will be very similar to what I had to say only funnier and better-written :)

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  2. Oh and I forgot to add one thing. That Elementary title? AWFUL!!!

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    1. Urgh, I noticed a few typos in my first paragraph. This is clearly why I shouldn't type blog comments late in the night! Sorry.

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  3. I've seen the Brett/Hardwicke and the Sherlock. I love the former a great deal -- you didn't mention Sir Henry much regarding that version. What did you think of him? I think both he and Dr. Mortimer are perfection. But I'm a fan of the series overall, so it's to be expected that it's my favorite rendition, I suppose.

    The Sherlock... I greatly disliked when I first saw it. I loved the cleverness of things like the Grimpen Land Mine, but I really dislike scary, horrorific things, and that ep has such a horror vibe to it. Now that I know how it all turns out, I'll probably like it much better when I rewatch it. I got very angry at Sherlock for what he did to John, though.

    I'd like to see the one with Christopher Lee, but the others I will pass on.

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    1. I just noticed myself that I didn't really talk about Sir Henry in that version. I guess that was because he didn't leave that much of an impression on me, positive or negative. I liked both Richard Greene's and Sir Christopher Lee's portrayals better, though Kristoffer Tabori is much better than Nicholas Woodeson in the 1982 serial.

      I do recommend the Hammer film – it's by no means book-accurate, but I was truly surprised by how good Holmes and Watson were there, and it's quite a nostalgic reminder of 50s/60s "horror" films.

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    2. Lots of people really like the Hammer version (I'm having a hard time not making this in to a Thor joke), so I really hope I can see it at some point.

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    3. I'm looking forward to your review! You've written tons of nice reviews on older films, which I don't watch that often myself :)

      If you get really desperate, I can give you a furtive hint that the entire film is available on Youtube... I'm by no means a supporter of piracy or anything that even comes close to it, but let's put it this way – if you watch it on Youtube and find that it's totally worth your money, then you can try looking for an option of buying it and whoever profits from the sales gets what they deserve eventually ;)

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    4. Is it? Awesome! I'm the same way -- I'll only watch a movie on YouTube if I think I might like it enough to buy a copy, and if I really like it, I do go buy a copy. Or, of course, if it's not available on VHS or DVD, then I have no qualms about watching it on YouTube. But I always try Hulu and Amazon Instant Video first, since those are legit.

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  4. I can't remember the "Stonehenge" in the Rathbone adaptation but there are standing stone circles in many parts of Britain and several on Dartmoor. So the inclusion of one in the film is not much of a stretch - though it is probably grander than those actually on the moor.

    As for the setting of the Cushing film not feeling like Dartmoor, it was filmed in Surrey. However, Dartmoor is a holiday area in the UK - it is not always cold, dismal and covered in mists and pretty sunsets are quite common.

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