Friday, 12 June 2015

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959 version) (4 Stars)

This is the second film that I'm watching this week featuring Christopher Lee. I picked it because I wanted to watch one of his films that I've never seen before. It's somewhat out of character for him, because he doesn't play the bad guy in it. Maybe that's a spoiler. It's a Sherlock Holmes murder investigation, and in his stories anyone could be guilty. The killer isn't revealed until the end.

This is the most famous of all the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. According to IMDB the story has been filmed 19 times between 1914 and 2013, in languages as diverse as German, Chinese and Russian. The story has also formed the basis of episodes of television series about Sherlock Holmes, including the current series "Sherlock" and "Elementary". It's a story about an old curse that a supernatural dog kills the Lord of Baskerville Hall if he walks alone at night on the moors. After the death of Sir Charles Baskerville Sherlock Holmes is called to investigate the case. Holmes is a sceptic and doesn't believe in the supernatural, so he looks for a logical explanation, especially when attempts are made on the life of the new lord, Sir Henry Baskerville.

Sherlock Holmes is played by Peter Cushing, while Sir Henry Baskerville is played by Christopher Lee. I already knew that they teamed up in several horror films, but when I researched the matter I was surprised to find out that they made 24 films together between 1948 and 1973. I have mixed feelings about Peter Cushing. I've always admired him, but I have to admit that he wasn't a great actor. He had a very stiff wooden style. His fans might claim that he was typecast into playing roles like this, but I doubt he was capable of playing any other type of character. Nevertheless, he was the perfect actor for the stiff wooden characters that he played, whether it was Baron Frankenstein, Abraham Van Helsing or Sherlock Holmes.

That's a naive question. Why would any woman kiss a tall, dark and handsome man like Christopher Lee? Of course, Sherlock Holmes wouldn't take the obvious answer for granted. In the context of the film, Sir Henry Baskerville is a millionaire, so maybe Cecile was scheming to get her hands on his money. Or maybe she's the killer, and she was holding a dagger in her hand while they were locked in a passionate embrace.

Christopher Lee was a great man who will be sorely missed by his friends, fellow actors and film fans alike. But one thing is sure. As long as films still exist, he will never be forgotten.

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