Legend says that since 1860 the appearance of a giant hound precedes the death of the head of the Baskerville family.  Once again, the hound is seen coming from the moors.  That night Sir Charles Baskerville dies.  The family estate attorney sends a letter to the only surviving Baskerville, a distant relative, Henry (Erwin Fichtner), who lives in New York.  The letter tells Henry to come to Baskerville Hall for the reading of the will.  It also includes a warning written in a different hand, that should he come to Baskerville Hall, his life would be in danger. 

Stapleton (Friedrich Kuhne) is an evil man who has designs on the Baskerville fortune but pretends to be a friend of Sir Charles.  He has trained a vicious dog to attack on command.  The dog was used to kill Sir Charles thus keeping up the legend.  Sir Henry arrives at Baskerville Hall and takes his place as head of the estate.  He then meets and falls in love with Laura Lyons (Hanni Weisse).   When Stapleton releases the hound to attack Sir Henry, the horses pulling the carriage Laura is in get spooked and take off.  Sir Henry races after them and saves Laura’s life. 

Worried about the hound, Sir Henry sends a letter to Sherlock Holmes (Alwin Neuss) asking for his help.  After the letter is mailed Stapleton intercedes and blows up the mailbox.  Knowing that Sir Henry is expecting to see Holmes, Stapleton puts on a disguise and pretends to be the famous detective.  He continues his attempts on Sir Henry’s life.

In the meantime, the real Sherlock Holmes sees a notice in the paper that he is working at Baskerville Hall investigating the attempts on Sir Henry and about the Baskerville legend.  Holmes decides to go to Baskerville Hall and find out what is going on and who is pretending to be him.  When he arrives, he finds out that Stapleton is impersonating him.  He decides that the best course of action is to impersonate Stapleton.               

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” AKA “Der Hund von Baskerville” was released in 1914 and was directed by Rudolf Meinert.  It is a German silent murder mystery.  The film is loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 story “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and the play by Richard Oswald.  At one time the film was believed to be lost.  A copy was found in both the Russian Gosfilmofond film archive and the Filmmuseum München.  It was the first film adaptation of the story.

The film deviates a lot from the original story.  Watson only appears in one quick scene and is not credited.  There also isn’t much mystery here.  You know who the villain is right away.  The hound is actually a very frolic-y Great Dane.  It spends more screen time wagging its tail than attacking people.  The evil Stapleton relies more on bombs to try to kill Henry than on the fabled hound.  Even the brilliant Sherlock Holmes uses his gun to thwart Stapleton’s plans more than his brain.  Other than the character names there is very little here that conforms to the standard Doyle tale.  It’s an interesting little look at a German silent and it does have some good cinematic images but the movie itself is really not all that great.  Still, I’m glad they found it and restored it.  It’s not horrible, but not all that interesting.

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