The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978)


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The Hound of the Baskervilles Movie Reviews

“In the name of all the flocking blind cripples, I beseech you”

I’ve seen a number of different film adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles, so I thought I might enjoy a spoof of this familiar story. Also, I’ve seen some of the other work Peter Cook and Dudley Moore did together and thought they might have a chance at success with such a project. My reaction, well if you’ve been on IMDb for any length of time, you’ve probably seen the well thought out response “It Sux” when someone is asked about their opinion on a given film. Well, “It Sux” pretty well sums up my feelings to the abomination that is The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is a complete waste of time and effort. I can’t imagine how two talented individuals like Cook and Moore could have concocted such a disaster of a film. It’s nothing short of a chore to sit through the thing. It’s the complete opposite of funny. In addition to Cook and Moore, there’s a good cast assembled including Joan Greenwood, Denholm Elliot, Hugh Griffith, and the usually entertaining Terry-Thomas. I actually started to feel embarrassed for these talented actors. What were they thinking? And where in the world did the scenes taken from The Exorcist come from? I don’t remember any pea soup spitting in Doyle’s original work.

I actually bought The Hound of the Baskervilles on DVD. I’m glad it only set me back $3, because the 2/10 I’ve rated the movie may actually be overstating things a bit.

A ‘comic’ retelling of a classic story

This story sees Holmes being approached by Dr Mortimer to investigate the death of the owner of Baskerville Hall. While the death is officially natural causes it is suspected that the real cause may be a beast known as the Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes declines the case but passes it on to Dr Watson; it is to be his first solo case. Watson, Mortimer and Sir Henry Baskerville, the dead man’s heir, head to the hall on a bleak moor. Once there Watson and Sir Henry meet the locals, all of whom are more than a little strange and rather suspicious. Inevitably Watson eventually has to call Holmes for help.

Given the array of comic talent on display one might expect this to be a comedy classic… unfortunately it isn’t. There are a few funny moments but elsewhere gags aren’t particularly funny or go on far too long. The script feels like something rejected by the Carry On team, even they never sank to having gags about urinating Chihuahuas. The cast was solid enough given the material, although I’m not sure why Dudley Moore played Watson with a Welsh accent. All of them have been in better films. Overall I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this; it is just about worth watching on TV if there is nothing else of interest on or if the DVD is in the bargain bin at a charity shop.

Moore and Peter Cook Up a Big DUD!

Painful. Wincing. Shameful. Just a few quick words to summarize my experience sitting through what looked to be a promising parody by a couple of generally very funny and talented men – Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. This film starts off badly and then bottoms out within the first ten minutes. The rest of the film really became an onerous chore to sit through and only and I mean ONLY was saved by the promise of seeing some great British character actors and funny men/ladies in bit parts. Unfortunately watching Hugh Griffith, Prunella Scales, Terry-Thomas, and oh so ever did I feel sorry for someone Joan Greenwood embarrass themselves with witless, nonsensical, unfunny material did little to improve matters at all. Peter Cook plays Sherlock Holmes and really misses the character entirely, but he need not fear because Dudley Moore as Watson with a hideous Scottish brogue is even worse. The jokes are stale for the most part – missing hugely. There is a terrible Exorcist sequence that made me just want to fast-forward the rest of the film. but like a trooper I sat through till the end and was relieved when it finally finished. The story has the basic structure of the Doyle novel intact with some obvious changes meant to be funny. And some of the changes would have been funny maybe if a little more had been done with the material. I am not saying there is nothing funny in the film. There are a few bright spots. Dudley Moore with a chihuahua and Denholm Elliot was a decent comedic scene until it just went on and on. And I also liked the sequence with Cook and Moore as a one-legged man trying for a position as a runner on the moors for Holmes. That was, for me at least, easily the funniest scene in the entire film. The rest is a mismatch of things that just didn’t work for me at all. Maybe a bit more respect for the material would have rendered this more amusing. Maybe some more realistic characterizations and less broad, really broad, and embarrassingly broad portrayals by Cook and Moore and Griffith as a man with a young girlfriend with the bust of a popular stripper and who enjoys throwing chunks of meat on the moors, Joan Greenwood, yes, Joan Greenwood, vomiting pea soup with spinning head, and Kenneth Williams really going over the top- even for him – toning it down a bit and making their characters a bit more believable might have helped. The script though is woefully lacking even for a farce like this. Director Paul Morrissey show little talent here and it is a real pity when you have such huge talents to work with. Penelope Keith is wonderful in a brief cameo as a bordello hostess(sultry too). Spike Milligan has a fine brief cameo as a policeman. Terry-Thomas is Terry-Thomas in a final bow as that which he basically made his career playing, a cad. This was his last meaningful screen role – a pity for Thomas fans but at least you get an older vintage Thomas nevertheless. More than anything else I was just surprised at the low level of intellect, given a title like The Hound of the Baskervilles, required, nay, even expected, to enjoy this moronic, sophomoric tripe. A real pity as I said.