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Garp's Franchise Film reviews
#11
BONUS: 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' [1983] [TV]

They churn out this adaptations like link sausages, it seems. Here we have Ian Richardson trying on the famous deerstalker, and making a good job of it, too. His partner-in-crime-solving is played by Donald Churchill, who also takes the well-trodden Nigel Bruce path.

This is a star-studded production: Denholm Elliot is Dr. Mortimer, playing an early Brody (from '...the Last Crusade')-like character. He is sidelined fairly quickly in favour of a new character, Laura Lyon's previously unseen husband, played with gusto (naturally) by Brian Blessed, whose volume starts at 11. Eleanor Bron, Connie Booth and Ronald Lacey (another 'Indy' alum) round out a bevvy of well-known faces. Lacey appears as Inspector Lestrade, only the second time his character has been shown so far (the 1972 version also included him). Finally, we have Martin Shaw as Sir Henry with a voice so remarkably unlike his own that I kept wondered whether he had been dubbed. (In fact, he had. Poor Martin.) Laura Lyons is played by the gorgeous Glynis Barber, one of the few things that kept my interest as it dragged on.

All in all, this should work. The cast is excellent and the location work and sets are great (it was actually partly shot in Devon). Richardson plays Holmes with a Rathbonian (?) twinkle, and the supernatural element mixes well with the whodunnit aspect; this version even includes the glowing, phosphorus-daubed hound from the novel. It starts well enough, but, like a lot of versions, suffers when Holmes is off-screen. While others have managed to recover, this one fails to maintain interest for some reason - Shaw's 'what is that sound coming from his mouth?'  bemusement was partly to blame in my case. Overall, a curiosity. Thank god for Glynis.
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