I am told by a trusted colleague that he considers this the worst Holmes movie ever made. I respectfully disagree and have previously in this blog given my opinion of the worst Holmes film around. For some reason though, both happen to be made for TV movies of our favorite characters. The Hound of the Baskervilles with Stewart Granger in the role of Holmes was made for TV in 1972 and is not readily available except through some classic movie sites. The problem with the film is not really the actors; in fact, the role of accomplished actors is quite good; the problem is the production quality. It’s as if they had a budget of about $1.95 and decided to see how far they could stretch it. Everything from poorly painted scenery to plastic moor plants were used.
As I said, the array of actors was pretty good: Stewart Granger as Holmes, Bernard Fox as Watson, William Shatner (in a non-Star Trek role) as Stapleton, and Anthony Zerbe as Dr. Mortimer. Not a bad cast. The script varies from the original story but is interesting. Granger’s performance is adequate, and Shatner is interesting but his role is somewhat limited. Zerbe is great as an evil Mortimer and Fox does a decent job with the part of Watson. Fox is neither the buffoon nor a rocket scientist and interestingly enough, at the end of the film hints at more stories to come. This was obviously a pilot that suffered from inadequate funding. All in all, I guess it’s worth the 72 minutes of run time just to see another variation on the Hound.
Bernard Fox has always been one of my favorite character actors. He was born 11 May 1927 as Bernard Lawson in Wales, a fifth generation actor! He married his wife Jacqueline in 1961 and they have two children. Fox spent some time in the theater but most of his work has been in TV and the movies. He has over 120 credits on the screen and you know his face if not his name. He had recurring roles on Bewitched as Dr. Bombay, the witch doctor and on Hogan’s Heroes as Colonel Crittenden. He appears in numerous TV shows, like: Simon & Simon and Columbo, as the visiting English police officer and in shows like Man from Uncle 12 O’clock High, Combat, The Andy Griffith Show and F Troop as the British Officer or the comic relief. His last movie was The Mummy in 1999 where he played Captain Winston Havlock the alcoholic RAF pilot. In 1997 he was in a movie about the ship Titanic for the second time. In the 1997 film he played Colonel Gracie but back in 1958 in the classic A Night to Remember he played the part of Lookout Frederick Fleet who has the famous line “Iceberg, dead ahead!”
All in all, Fox has had a great career as a character actor and does a fair job with Watson under poor conditions.