THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES—-beyond burning Atlanta and loosing musical munchkins fabled 1939 also saw fit to introduce Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce to the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the first of 14 pairings of the two actors with the legendary characters. It no doubt helped their on-screen chemistry that they were good chums out of costume as well.
Basil’s aplomb and Holmes zeal are much in need here, as they search across the misty moors for who–or what–is committing grisly murder. Evidence points to the “footprints of a gigantic hound.”
Well, fill your pipe and relax: with the jolly assistance of Watson (Bruce is peerless), you can bet your kidney pie that the World’s most famous cocaine addict will divine answers that befuddle the average bloke (it may help that the butler is played by John Carradine). Atmospheric, full of ripe ripostes and dry Brit wit, the 80 minutes flit by.
There seems to have been some problem with the directorial end, as Alfred L. Werker finished for Sidney Lanfield, who had taken over William Seiter, who stepped in for Irving Cumming. Lanfield got the credit. Four different composers worked on the scoring (David Buttolph, Cyril Mockridge, David Raksin and Charles Maxwell) and none are credited, so it may be one of those lucky instances where a flurry of disconnects all turned into pixie dust. Then again, there is the famous last line “Oh, Watson–the needle!”
With Richard Greene, Wendy Barrie, Lionel Atwill, Beryl Mercer and E.E. Clive. This was so popular that 20th immediately rushed Basil & Nigel into The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes that same year, and it did even better business.