The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983 film)

The Hound of the Baskervilles (a.k.a. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles[1]) is a 1983 British made-for-television mystery thriller film directed by Douglas Hickox, starring Ian Richardson as Sherlock Holmes and Donald Churchill as Dr. John H. Watson. It is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983 film).jpg
  • Mystery
  • thriller
Based onThe Hound of the Baskervilles
by Arthur Conan Doyle
Written byCharles Edward Pogue
Directed byDouglas Hickox
StarringIan Richardson
Donald Churchill
Martin Shaw
Theme music composerMichael J. Lewis
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerSy Weintraub
ProducersOtto Plaschkes
Eric Rattray (associate producer)
Alan Rosefielde (associate producer)
CinematographyRonnie Taylor
EditorMalcolm Cooke
Running time100 minutes
Production companyMapleton Films
Original networkHBO
Original release
  • 3 November 1983 (1983-11-03)


In 1982, American producer Sy Weintraub partnered with English producer Otto Plaschkes to make six television films of Sherlock Holmes stories.[2] Charles Edward Pogue was enlisted to pen the screenplays[2] but only The Sign of the Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles were ultimately filmed before Granada Television's Sherlock Holmes series premiered in 1984.[2] A proposed third film, Hands of a Murderer (originally entitled The Prince of Crime[1]) was eventually made with Edward Woodward as Sherlock Holmes and John Hillerman as Dr. John H. Watson.[1]

In an interview with Scarlet Street, Ian Richardson explained:

"That was the fly in our ointment. Initially, an unseen fly. You see, when Sy Weintraub was planning the films, he was unaware that the copyright on the Holmes stories was about to expire in England and he had to go through a great deal of legal negotiations with the Conan Doyle estate in order to gain permission to use them. However, he was totally ignorant of Granada's plans to film a series with Jeremy Brett...Weintraub was furious, because he'd paid a lot of money to get permission from the estate and here was Granada saying, 'Thank you - but we're going to do it.' So Weintraub took them to court. He had a very good case, apparently; but eventually there was an out of court settlement for an extraordinary sum of money - something like two million pounds - which was enough for Weintraub to cover his costs on both The Sign of Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles, and make a profit, too. And so he wrapped the project up."[2]

Denholm Elliott was cast as Dr. Mortimer having previously portrayed Stapleton in the comedy spoof version of the Hound starring Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.[1] He also appeared with "Hound" co-star Connie Booth in the spoof The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It.[1] Booth herself would later appear in 1987s The Return of Sherlock Holmes.[1]

A large part of Martin Shaw's American accent was dubbed by another actor in post-production.[citation needed]


Differences from novelEdit

  • The story's prologue retelling the Baskerville legend differs from the novel with the inclusion of a scene where Lord Baskerville rapes the fugitive girl after catching her, and the girl surviving when Baskerville is fatally mauled by the Hound.[1]
  • A sniping attempt which does not occur in the original novel is made against Sir Henry.[1]
  • Inspector Lestrade is assigned the task of arresting Seldon. Unlike previous versions of the story, he is revealed to be the policeman who arrested Seldon.[1]
  • Brian Blessed's character Geoffrey Lyons never appears in the novel.[3] In the film version, Lyons is presented as an imposing suspect who is at one point falsely imprisoned for strangling his wife.[3] Holmes' solution to the case ultimately frees him.[3]
  • The film's Geoffrey Lyons performs the feat of bending a fire iron as an intimidation tactic which was originally performed by Dr. Grimesby Roylott in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band".[1]
  • Laura Lyons dies in the film, strangled by the murderer to protect his identity. She does not die in the novel.[1]
  • Stapleton's demise in the bog is included as a part of the film's climax. He ambushes Holmes, Watson and Beryl outside the Hound's lair, but is chased by Holmes into the moor; he stumbles into the mire and sinks to his doom, despite Holmes' attempts to save him.[1] The novel does not depict Stapleton's demise; he simply disappears on the moor and is assumed to have drowned in the mire.


Cinema Retro called the film "a cracking piece of entertainment...with lush production values that completely belie its TV movie origins."[4] Matthew Bunson in The Enclyclopedia Sherlockiana praised the "first rate" production and Ronald Lacey's performance as Lestrade but felt that Richardson's interpretation of Holmes was "a bit too amiable."[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 256–259. ISBN 9780857687760.
  2. ^ a b c d Sherlock Holmes Society of London Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c The hound of the Baskervilles: another adventure of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Christopher Frayling
  4. ^ Greaves, Tim (10 May 2016). "Reviews: "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1983) and "The Sign of Four" (1983) Starring Ian Richardson; Blu-Ray Releases from Second Sight". Cinema Retro. Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  5. ^ Bunson, Matthew (1997). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana: an A-to-Z guide to the world of the great detective. Macmillan. p. 128. ISBN 0-02-861679-0.

External linksEdit