andre morell, christopher lee, hammer films, Hammer Horror, hound of the baskervilles, peter cushing, sherlock holmes, sir srthur conan doyle
Before Benedict Cumberbatch donned the deerstalker hat for Moffat and Gatiss’ modern interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous detective, another British icon had made an impressionable mark for Hammer Film Productions’ The Hound of the Baskervilles. Having already portrayed literature icons Baron Frankenstein and Van Helsing, it was time to turn his head towards Sherlock Holmes for one of his greatest adventures.
His Doctor Watson would be ably performed by Andre Morell (The Plague of Zombies) who himself would become a Hammer staple, but it would be the casting of Sir Chrisopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskervilles (once again unite Hammer’s most memorable duo on screen) in the first representation of the tale in colour surrounding the dreaded curse and the beast the walks the moors.
Hammer would look to sensationalise or create drama that was absent from the initial storyline, including the tarantula scene. Probably the hardest trick was to produce a larger than life hound for the film’s climax; a tough act considering Lee’s stature, but Hammer found their answer with a Great Dane called Colonel.
It was initially conceived to be the gateway to many more Sherlock Holmes’ adaptations, but would be the only occurrence, much to the company and cinephiles’ dismay. It would have been interesting to see Cushing take on the role in numerous other stories.
The great Terence Fisher who had stamped his signature vision; and one that became synonymous with the Hammer style with The Curse of Frankenstein and Dracula, would wield his take of the action from the Director’s chair. With the talent in front of the screen from which to mould the narrative, Fisher had created a feature that stands alongside these Gothic treatments that made Hammer Horror’s name, so it’s a shame that there weren’t more chances to delve within Conan Doyle’s world.
- Saul Muerte