And so the curse of Sir Hugo came upon the Baskervilles in the shape of a hound from hell.
Dr. Richard Mortimer (Francis de Wolff) relates to Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) and Doctor Watson (Andre Morell) the origins of the curse of the Baskervilles and asks for his help to investigate the death of his friend Sir Charles Baskerville. Mortimer believes Sir Charles was scared to death by a ghost hound. Mortimer fears for the life of the next heir to the Baskerville estate Sir Henry (Sir Christopher Lee). Holmes and Watson meet with Sir Henry. Believing that his life may indeed be in danger Holmes sends Dr. Watson to the Baskerville estate in Dartmoor along with Sir Henry and Dr. Mortimer. Holmes warns Sir Henry to stay off the moors and charges Dr. Watson with making sure Sir Henry abides by his instructions until he can free himself from prior commitments and join them at Dartmoor.
While on their way to the estate the coach driver warns them about an escaped convict, named Selden (Michael Mulcaster), who may be hiding on the moors. Once at the estate Sir Henry meets the servants Mr. Barrymore (John Le Mesurier) and his wife (Helen Goss). Barrymore confirms that he was the first to discover Sir Charles dead. Additional characters in the tale are the local pastor Bishop Frankland (Miles Malleson), a local farmer named Stapleton (Ewen Solon) and his daughter Cecile (Marla Landi).
Watson eventually discovers that Holmes has been hiding on the moors in order to have free reign on investigating the case. Sounds of howls on the moor are heard. A man is mauled to death. The man was the escaped convict. It turns out he was the brother of Mrs. Barrymore. He was wearing clothes that had belonged to Sir Henry. Holmes inspects an old copper mine and finds clues to all the strange events in Dartmoor. Using Sir Henry as bait he sets a trap to capture the murderer and solve the mystery of the hound of the Baskervilles.
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” was released in 1959 and was directed by Terence Fisher. This version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel was produced by Hammer Studios, and of course with the usual Hammer flair. There have been at least 17 versions of the hound of the Baskerville movies. Hammer’s version is credited as the first to be done in color. The movie itself is filled with wonderful performances and lavish sets. Even though some of the sets are those also used for “Horror of Dracula”, they were still enticing. Cushing’s performance was especially good. His attention to detail made him worthy of the character.
The dog in the movie was named “Colonel”. There are two versions of the dog’s temperament depending on whom you talk to. Terence Fisher said he was one of the kindest dogs around. Margaret Robinson echoed that sentiment. Others said that he had once bitten a barmaid and that he tried to attack a small boy and bit Sir Lee in the arm. A vicious looking hand puppet shoved in the actor’s face was used for close-ups. Sir Lee’s morbid fear of spiders required no acting when it came time for the tarantula’s début on screen.