Sunday, August 15, 2010

The German Hound of the Baskervilles (1937)

When I originally posted a review of this at IMDB the review ended up being removed because someone took offense because I called it a Nazi Sherlock Holmes. I didn't mean that he was a Nazi but that the film was made at the time when they controlled the German film industry.

I saw this film in a print from Sinister Cinema who have the film for sale but sans subtitles. If you are familiar with the story you really don't need them except during the opening 20 minutes before Holmes and Watson show up since the film pretty much follows the tale we all know.

Shot in a moody black and white I think this film has mood and sense of place that is lacking in most other versions. To me this the one version of the story that feels like the dark and stormy moors should feel. There is a wonderful interplay of light and dark that makes the film the sort of thing you want to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.

The performances are spot on, and in some ways I like Bruno Guttner as Holmes and Fritz Odemar as Watson better than Rathbone and Bruce since Holmes isn't too snot nosed and Watson isn't an idiot.(Oh how I regret that Rathbone and Bruce became the benchmark as to how to play Holmes until Jeremy Brett changed all of that.)

To me this would be the version of the story except it has problem with the running time of mystery. Holmes and Watson don't show up for 25 of the films 75 minutes, meaning that the story is a third of the way over before we actually get to the story. Since I saw this without subtitles it made that first almost half hour a bit difficult to get through. However once they show up I think the film is gangbusters. Of course I'm sure that should I get the chance to see this with subtitles I won't mind as much.

Talky first bit or not this is a must see for anyone who likes a good mystery and especially anyone who loves Sherlock Holmes.

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