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on 6 March 2013
Shot on location in Devon, the cinematography of this film is absolutely stunning, capturing perfectly the gloomy, foreboding atmosphere conveyed so brilliantly in what is undoubtedly Sir Arthur's masterpiece. The moor was everything I imagined it to be, replete with fog and some unidentifiable aura of mystery, a place which becomes the perfect setup for the gothic horror tale about to unfold. We can imagine, no matter how many times we have read the book and know perfectly well what occurs, that some dark, evil purposes are afoot, and as Holmes mentions in HOUN, if the devil were to meddle in the affairs of men, this is precisely where it would occur. Even the London scenes were richly atmospheric, the detail paid to historical accuracy and the brilliant colours of autumn one of this film's most striking features.

Then there is the actual case, which on many instances followed the plot faithfully, leaving in scenes omitted from most other adaptations - only to deviate from the story or move events forward too soon, so that the pacing did at times seem a bit awkward. That being said, this surpasses most others and makes the attempt throughout to never stray too far from the source material. In fact, many of the tweaks were not so much an attempt at surpassing Doyle, but to flesh out vital side characters such as Laura Lyons and her husband, the latter of which is merely mentioned in the book. We are also - for once - given a Sir Henry who is not portrayed as the complete imbecile he appears as in far too many adaptations to name, but a confident, adventure seeker intent on fulfilling his position as heir to Baskerville Hall. The other supporting cast are equally strong, and I particularly loved the absent minded Dr Mortimer (who most will recognize as Marcus from Indiana Jones). Truly, the casting delights just as much as every other element here.

From the opening scene, the story moves quickly. Holmes' initial investigation in London underwent some minor changes to further speed the pacing and add an element of action. One gripe I did have was with the treatment of Watson here - this is a case that pivots around the doctor, so it was somewhat disappointing that once in Dartmoor, he tends to be something of a bumbler; though by no means is he the buffoon that was Nigel Bruce. This is also a different actor who played Holmes' Boswell in Sign of Four, and the difference is palpable, unfortunately. I regret to say that this was the one issue I had, as the movie would have benefited tremendously from a more capable Watson.

Ian Richardson, however, is an absolute pleasure to watch. The best portrayals of the Great Detective tend to play up a dark, brooding nature, neurosis, or brashness never really present to any great degree in Canon, though this is not the case with Richardson. He plays Holmes as the eccentric genius he was - unconventional, yet in every respect the Victorian gentleman. He exudes some intangible Holmesian quality that gives credibility to his deductions without resorting to the overused trope of troubled genius. Even his dumbed down Watson shines in his presence.

In short (possibly too late for that), I was never too overly fond of HOUN film adaptations, but this one has ruined me for all others. It is, in the opinion of this humble Sherlockian, quite possibly the definitive adaptation.
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on 8 February 2013
The Hound Of The Baskervilles is probably the most well-known of all the Sherlock Holmes tales and is one of the best mystery stories ever written. There have been a vast number of versions, and I feel that this 1983 version is the best adaptation there has been.

The plot is one that is really fascinating and Holmes' most supernatural. Holmes and Watson are approached by Dr Mortimer to help American Henry Baskerville who is set to inherit his family estate in Dartmoor following the mysterious death of his uncle Charles Baskerville. The problem is that an apparent curse hangs over the family in the form of a demonic hound, which leads to worry that something may happen to Henry. Holmes sends Watson with Henry to keep an eye on events and find out as much as he can about the curse, while he carries out his own investigations. The story is fantastically told, sticking near the its source and keeping the twists hidden until they are revealed. It's very successful at building its characters and creating a strong, creepy atmosphere.

The cast is impressive overall. Ian Richardson is very good as Holmes, having a powerful delivery and capturing the obscure humour of the character perfectly. Donald Churchill was mixed as Watson as he can be a little too Nigel Bruce silly at times but smart and resourceful at others. Martin Shaw is likeable as Henry, although his accent can be a bit iffy. Denholm Elliott is also really good and rather funny as the absent minded but well-meaning Mortimer. Nicholas Clay makes for a good Stapleton. Glynis Barber is really good as Beryl, while the brash Brian Blessed and innocent looking Connie Booth fit the falling apart marriage effortlessly.

The best things about the film are the visuals and the atmosphere. The moor has never looked so scary, it captures the creepy feel of the place flawlessly with it shrouded in gloom. The daytime scenes are also excellent to look at as the sunlight can make the place seem somewhat beautiful. The hound looks great too, the glowing makes it ghost like and its howl is simply spine chilling. The mood that the film crafts is simply superb. There is a genuine feel of terror surrounding the moor and the curse that the film allows to pour out, for example the scene of Henry and Watson discovering the light on the moor and Henry walking the moor while the hound stalks him are really intense and chilling. The music is brilliant all the way through, managing to form some truly haunting sounds that make the scenes upon the moor and out in the darkness that little bit more unsettling and eerie.

The most satisfying version.
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on 12 November 2003
First of all I have to say that Ian Richardson makes an excellent Sherlock Holmes. After that things start to fall apart with this adaptation of the Baskerville story.
This version does not take as many liberties as the most recent BBC version but it does change some aspects of the story. The principal villain, Stapleton, actually kills a character directly, as well via the hound, which never happened in the book.
There are also some probelms with the casting. The casting of Martin Shaw (with his terrible American accent) as Sir Henry Baskerville was a major mistake. Also a mistake was the actor chosen to portray Watson. This actor (who's name I forget) plays more of a bumbling Watson which was something I hoped had begun and ended with Nigel Bruce's portrayal in the Rathbone era. It is clearly apparent in the books that Watson is very intelligent (he would have to be in order to be a doctor) but once again he is almost turned into the comic relief.
As stated earlier, this is not a bad adaptation which is better than the BBC's recent effort but to my mind the definitive version of this story is that featuring Jeremy Brett.
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on 24 June 2016
I have many versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles and I enjoy almost all of them. This version with Ian Richardson I consider among the best. I am very happy with the transfer to Blu-ray as unlike The Sign of Four which I also bought this transfer is well done. I don't know if this was 4.3 stretched to 1.78.1 but at least they have not cut the heads off the actors like they have on The Sign of Four. The picture and sound quality is very good given that it was a made for TV film also given the age of the film. In the casting of this movie I have one small niggle and that is with the actor who played Dr Watson, I'm afraid he was too Nigel Bruce for my liking and the way he did it did not quite work for me. I still however highly recommend it to Sherlock Holmes fans.
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on 7 January 2017
Aaargh, it's not fair: an overall mark is so misleading. Richardson is super as Holmes and I'd give him 5 stars on his own. Then it all starts to fall apart. Watson is portrayed as a buffoon, which he wasn't. Martin Shaw? Hmmm. Denholm Elliott and Eleanor Bron do well enough. Brian Blessed's larger than life way of playing things actually works not too badly. The Mire - we'll pass over, quickly. An almost spotlessly clean Victorian London, however, won't do. A few nods (intended or otherwise) to Hammer Horror, which are rather endearing. A few liberties with the plot but that's almost expected, alas, with screen adaptations. So, all in all, a mixed bag: some of it very good, much of it ok and .. some other bits as well.
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on 11 February 2018
Lets be honest here, Ian Richardson, a brilliant actor, wasn’t as well suited to the role of Sherlock Holmes as Jeremy Brett. He plays it a little too ‘by the book’, taking his cues from Basil Rathbone instead of trying to make the part his own. That said though, this is a very watchable adaptation of Conan Doyle’s classic tale, the whole cast do their utmost to invoke a sense of fear and mystery, and the settings and cinematography are beautifully executed. This isn’t the best version of the story you’re likely to see, but it’s far from the worst. Well-worth a place on the shelf!
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on 19 October 2014
This is a version of the "Hound of the Baskervilles" that I got mainly because I enjoy Ian Richardson's acting, so I really don't mind the fact that this one deviates from the story written by Doyle in some-quite a few actually- places. This is not the version to get if you are after an accurate rendition of the story-if that's what you are after, try the version with Jeremy Brett instead. In this one, Mrs. Stapleton remains very much alive at the end and it is indicated that she and Sir Henry Baskerville will be together. Mr. Stapleton is still the villain of the piece, but seems slightly more prone to emotional outbursts than counterparts of his are in other versions of the "Hound of the Baskervilles".Ian Richardson is quite good as Holmes but the rest of the cast is also good. It includes Brian Blessed,Nicholas Clay and others.
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on 3 March 2014
Ian Richardson make is superb Holmes, only second to Jeremy Brett. This version has been significantly sexed-up with increased gratuitous sex and violence which, actually, improves the adaptation - this much grittier, pacier Richardson version is much better than the very disappointing, surprisingly poor Granada/Brett version.

The casting is universally very good. The start is both thrilling and horrifying - the frantic escape by a comely female maid, a frenzied chase across the moors, a graphic sexual assault of the young maiden (usually cut from TV broadcasts) and a perpetrator getting his throat and heart ripped out by a gigantic hound... This is a really gripping, pacey and sexy Sherlockian thriller... Highly recommended.
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on 1 July 2016
Excellent Doyle title featuring the estimable Ian Richardson as Holmes. This might have become a series had not the Granada/Jeremy Brett project stymied it. Unlike the 'Sign of Four" release, made about the same time, The "Hound" script allows Watson to be the "Doyle original" Dr. Watson, an intelligent, helpful colleague of Holmes, and David Healy steps up with a very fine performance.
Disc quality is fine.
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on 16 February 2018
I am a massive Ian RIchardson fan , and this did not disappoint , I really enjoyed it not perfect quality but it did not hinder the viewing quality to much. He plays Sherlock in a less serious way than Jeremy Brett .
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