The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959 poster.jpg
Directed by Terence Fisher
Produced by Michael Carreras
Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (novel)
Peter Bryan
Starring Peter Cushing
André Morell
Sir Christopher Lee
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography Jack Asher
Editing by Alfred Cox
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) 3 July 1959 (U.S.)
Running time 87 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1959 British detective film produced by Hammer Films and directed by Terence Fisher.

The film is the first adaptation from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel of the same name to be filmed in colour[1] and stars Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes, Sir Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville and André Morell as Doctor Watson. It also starred Marla Landi, Ewen Solon, Francis de Wolff, John Le Mesurier and Miles Malleson.


The film differs somewhat from the novel. It begins with the cruel aristocrat, Sir Hugo Baskerville (David Oxley), hosting a party at Baskerville Hall, when a dead man's daughter escapes from the mansion, angry at Baskerville for treating her badly. In spite his friends' warnings, Baskerville pursues her throughout the moor and stabs her to death in the nearby abbey ruins. However, a huge dog-like creature suddenly appears and kills Baskerville. From then on, the hound of hell has become known as the Hound of the Baskervilles and, any strange night a Baskerville is alone on the moor, the hound will come and kill him.

Several centuries later, the death of Sir Charles Baskerville is being reported by his best friend Dr. Richard Mortimer (Francis de Wolff) to Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) and Dr. Watson (André Morell), who are willing to meet the new owner of Baskerville Hall, Sir Henry (Christopher Lee). After meeting Sir Henry, Holmes remembers that he is going to be away on the day Sir Henry arrives at Baskerville Hall, so he puts Watson in charge of watching over him. A tarantula attacks Sir Henry briefly; Holmes suspects foul play. Before he leaves, Holmes reminds Watson to not let Sir Henry go out onto the moor at dark.

On the way to Baskerville Hall, the coach driver Perkins (Sam Kydd) warns of a convict named Selden (Michael Mulcaster) has escaped from nearby Dartmoor Prison two days ago. Watson recalls Seldon's case about Seldon murdering a number of street women; plus due to some talk of him being insane, he was sentenced to life imprisonment instead of hanging.

While at Baskerville Hall, Watson meets a man named Stapleton (Ewen Solon) and his daughter Cecille (Marla Landi), who save him from sinking into the Grippen Mire. Cecille seems to act strangely around both Sir Henry and Watson. At night, Watson sees a light shining out upon the moor, and starts to suspect something is going on. He and Sir Henry investigate the mysterious light. While out upon the moor, the Baskerville hound howls, causing Sir Henry to suffer from heart problems. As they leave, a strange man rushes past. The two pursue the man, but he gets away; they go back to Baskerville Hall.

Soon, Watson discovers that the strange man was actually Holmes in disguise; Holmes had arrived hours after Watson did. They find out that the convict, Selden is actually the butler Barrymore's wife's brother, was the one signaling with the light the other night, and that Barrymore and his wife were the ones returning the signal. Several events occur, such as Sir Henry being invited to dinner by Cecille and Stapleton, the hound mistakenly killing Selden because Selden is wearing Sir Henry's clothes, and finally Holmes' almost being trapped inside an old mine while investigating.

Cecille takes Sir Henry out to the moor one night. By now, Holmes has solved the case: The Stapletons are actually illegitimate descendants of Sir Hugo, and are next in line to get the Baskerville fortune and mansion if all of the Baskervilles are killed off. Cecile has taken Sir Henry out onto the moor so that he may be killed by the hound - an actual, living dog bought by Stapleton, not a ghost as many were led to believe. Holmes and Watson rush out just on time to hear Cecile reveal her intentions to a horrified Sir Henry. Stapleton appears and attacks from behind, but in turn is shot in the side by Watson. The hound of the Baskervilles suddenly appears and attacks the group but desists when shot by Holmes; Stapleton is then mauled to death the animal. Cecille flees while Holmes kills the beast, revealing it to be a normal dog with a mask on to make it look more terrifying. Cecile accidentally falls into the mire and sinks to her death. Holmes and Watson take a shocked Sir Henry back to Baskerville Hall, and the case is solved.



Filming also took place on location at Chobham Common[2] and Frensham Ponds,[2] both in Surrey.

The Holmes of Peter Cushing received mixed reviews at the time with Films and Filming calling him an "impish, waspish, Wilde-ian Holmes"[2] while The New York Herald Tribune stated "Peter Cushing is a forceful and eager Sherlock Holmes".[3] Cushing would later reprise the role in the BBC Sherlock Holmes television series nine years later, filming 16 episodes, two of which were a new interpretation of The Hound of the Baskervilles[4] this time with Nigel Stock as Watson.

Cushing was an aficionado of Sherlock Holmes and brought his knowledge to the project.[2] It was Cushing's suggestion that the mantle feature Holmes' correspondence stabbed into it with a jack-knife as per the original stories.[2]

André Morell's Watson has been praised as a far more accurate rendition of the character as envisioned by Arthur Conan Doyle, as opposed to the comic bumbling buffoon created by Nigel Bruce.[2][3]

Changes from the novelEdit

There are several significant changes in plot details. Among them:

  • Sir Henry arrives from Toronto in the novel while he arrives from Johannesburg in the film.
  • Sir Henry does not suffer a minor heart condition in the novel, as he does in the film.
  • There is nothing involving a ritual sacrifice, a tarantula or a mine shaft in the novel,[2] nor is Holmes thought to have been accidentally trapped in a cave-in.[2]
  • Rather than being Stapleton's daughter,[5] Miss Stapleton is Stapleton's wife in the novel and is playing the part of his sister. In the novel, Holmes, Watson and Lestrade eventually find her bound, gagged and badly bruised after being mistreated by Stapleton. She does not hate Sir Henry, as she does in the film and is a far more sympathetic character in both the novel and in nearly all the other film versions of the story. (In the 1939 film version she is really Stapleton's sister, but he never mistreats her or forces her to deceive anybody, and she is completely unaware of his criminal actions until Holmes reveals the truth. Miss Stapleton falls in love with and presumably marries Sir Henry in the 1939 film.)
  • Miss Stapleton survives in the novel, whereas in the film she drowns in the Grimpen Mire.
  • In the novel, the hound is made to look "demonic" through the use of phosphorus paint, but in the film the same effect is accomplished with a mask.[2] The hound was played by a brindled Great Dane.
  • There is no attempt on the life of Sir Henry in the hotel, as in this film.
  • The painting next to the staircase does not go missing in the novel, as Stapleton's webbed hand is a creation of the filmmakers.[5]
  • The bishop and Frankland in the novel were two separate characters entirely.
  • Stapleton does not get mauled to death after being shot by Watson in the novel; he simply disappears and is presumed to have drowned in the Grimpen Mire.
  • Dr. Mortimer is never put in charge of watching over Sir Henry; therefore he is not considered negligent by Watson when Sir Henry ventures out onto he moor alone.


  1. Peter Cushing (1919-1994)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 63–65. ISBN 1903111048. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Peter Cushing and Sherlock Holmes
  4. Internet Movie Database's listing of Peter Cushing's Television work
  5. 5.0 5.1 Allen Eyles (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 104. ISBN 0060156201. 

External linksEdit

Th UniversalMonsters This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959 film).
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Universal Monsters Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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