AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Hound of the Baskervilles
Director: Sidney Lanfield (Dir)
Release Date:   31 Mar 1939
Production Date:   late Nov 1938--8 Feb 1939
Duration (in mins):   78
Duration (in feet):   7,142
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Richard Greene (Sir Henry Baskerville)  
    Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes)  
    Wendy Barrie (Beryl Stapleton)  
    Nigel Bruce (Dr. Watson)  
    Lionel Atwill (Dr. James Mortimer)  
    John Carradine (Barryman)  
    Barlowe Borland (Frankland)  
    Beryl Mercer (Mrs. Jenifer Mortimer)  
    Morton Lowry (John Stapleton)  
    Ralph Forbes (Sir Hugo Baskerville)  
    E. E. Clive (Cabby)  
    Eily Malyon (Mrs. Barryman)  
    Nigel de Brulier (Convict)  
    Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hudson)  
    Ian MacLaren (Sir Charles)  
    Peter Willes (Roderick)  
    Ivan Simpson (Shepherd)  
    John Burton (Bruce)  
    Denis Green (Jon)  
    Evan Thomas (Edwin)  
    Lionel Pape (Coroner)  
    Rita Page (Chamber maid)  
    David Thursby (Driver)  
    Douglas Gerrard (Squire)  
    Mary Young (Mother)  
    John Spacey (Purser)  
    Kenneth Hunter (Ship officer)  
    Vesey O'Davoren (Steward)  
    Ruth Terry (Daughter)  

Summary: In turn-of-the-century England, mystery shrouds the deaths of the hereditary heads of the Baskerville estate. According to legend, a vicious hound stalks the descendents of Sir Hugo Baskerville in order to avenge the death of an abducted peasant girl. Latest to assume the heritage is young Sir Henry, who arrives from Canada after the mysterious death of his uncle. Suspecting that murder is afoot, the family physician, James Mortimer, sends for Sherlock Holmes and his associate, Dr. Watson, to investigate. Holmes dispatches Watson to the moors of Dartmoor to protect Sir Henry, while the great detective lurks in the background, undercover. Before Holmes's appearance at the estate, Watson meets neighbors John Stapleton and his charming half sister Beryl, the irascible Frankland, and the mysterious butler Barryman and his wife. As the bloodcurdling baying of the hound drifts across the moors, Mrs. Barryman's escaped convict brother is murdererd while wearing Sir Henry's clothes. This prompts Holmes to decide that he must set the stage for attempted murder in order to trap the killer, and thus he announces that he is leaving for London. That night, on the mist-shrouded moor, the ghostly figure of the ferocious hound rushes toward its victim, Sir Henry, but Holmes and Watson shoot the beast before it can kill its target. Afterward, in the great hall of the manor, Holmes unmasks the hound's master, John Stapleton, as a distant relative of Sir Hugo and proves that he was jockeying to place himself in line to inherit the Baskerville estate. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Production Text: Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Sidney Lanfield (Dir)
  Alfred Werker (Fill-In dir)
  Gene Bryant (Asst dir)
Producer: Gene Markey (Assoc prod)
Writer: Ernest Pascal (Scr)
Photography: Peverell Marley (Photog)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  Hans Peters (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Simpson (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
Costumes: Gwen Wakeling (Cost)
Music: Cyril J. Mockridge (Mus dir)
Sound: W. D. Flick (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Country: United States
Series: Sherlock Holmes

Source Text: Based on the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (London, 1902).
Authors: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 31/3/1939 dd/mm/yyyy LP8875

PCA NO: 5037
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Detective
Subjects (Major): Detectives
  Moors and heaths
Subjects (Minor): Brothers and sisters
  Half sisters
  London (England)
  Mistaken identity
  Prison escapes

Note: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel was first serialized in The Strand magazine between Aug 1901 and Apr 1902. The film was also reviewed as Hound of the Baskervilles . Pre-production news items in HR note that Irving Cummings was slated to originally direct this film, but he was re-assigned to The Story of Alexander Graham Bell and replaced by William Seiter, who was later replaced by Sidney Lanfield. According to other news items in HR , Wendy Barrie replaced Anita Louise in the female lead after Robert Kane, the head of foreign production at Fox, advised the studio that the British would not accept the picture unless it featured an all-English cast. Other items in HR note the following about the production: a new, light-weight aluminum camera rail was used in this picture; technicians claimed that it was much quieter than the old type of rail. Alfred Werker stepped in to finish directing the picture so that Sidney Lanfield could prepare for When Winter Comes . Among the many films that have been based on the Arthur Conan Doyle novel are a 1922 FBO film directed by Maurice Elvey; the 1932 British film First Division directed by V. Gareth Gundrey and starring John Stuart and Reginald Bach; and the 1977 British film Hound of the Baskervilles directed by Paul Morrissey and starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. This film was the first Holmes picture to star Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Rathbone and Bruce went on to make one other Holmes picture for Fox, the 1939 film Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (see above). In 1941, Rathbone signed a contract with M-G-M, who loaned him to Universal to play the role of Holmes for a series of low budget films. Universal then hired Bruce to appear as Watson and together the pair appeared in a total of fourteen Holmes films. Their last film was the 1946 picture Dressed to Kill . They also made a cameo appearance, parodying their characters, in director Edward Cline's 1943 Universal film Crazy House . In addition to films, the pair starred as Holmes and Watson on 275 radio episodes, from 1939-43 on the NBC radio network and from 1943-46 on the Mutual network. For additional information on the series and other films featuring the Arthur Conan Doyle characters, consult the Series Index and see entry above for Sherlock Holmes

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   22 Mar 39   p. 3.
Film Daily   27 Mar 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Oct 38   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Dec 38   pp. 4-5.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jan 39   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 39   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Feb 39   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Feb 39   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Mar 39   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Mar 39   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   28 Mar 39   p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald   4 Mar 39   p. 52.
Motion Picture Herald   1 Apr 39   p. 28, 30
New York Times   25 Mar 39   p. 19.
Variety   29 Mar 39   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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