Rathbone did not get top billing in this version of Hound,
but was upstaged by a matinee idol named Richard Greene, little
Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson
Basil Rathbone is considered
by many to be the foremost interpreter of Holmes. Visually, Nigel
Bruce as Watson appears slightly too elderly, but it is the buffoonish
behavior written into the scripts that viewers have criticized most.
Fortunately, the rapport between Rathbone and Bruce does not disappoint.
Their first outing together as Holmes and Watson was a 1939 version
of Hound, and its success inspired 13 more films, several only loosely
based on the Conan Doyle canon.
The Rathbone-Bruce Hound
captures the original's feeling of the moor's spooky landscape,
even with studio sets. By necessity, the film plays fast and loose
with the plot, in order to squeeze a 15-chapter novel into a film
that is less than 90 minutes long. Its memorable last line of dialogue
refers rather strangely to Holmes's drug habit. As Holmes says a
hasty good-night and rushes from the room, he shouts, "Quick, Watson,
Jeremy Brett's and Edward Hardwicke's portrayals of Holmes and Watson
in Granada's 1988 production of Hound for British television
have become the favorites of many viewers. The plot remains largely
intact, although the pacing of events is, of necessity, somewhat
condensed. Brett's eccentric and neurotic, but appealing, portrayal
of Holmes is unique.
In a 2003 Masterpiece Theatre version shown on PBS, Richard Roxburgh
and Ian Hart give studied and emotional performances as Holmes and
Watson, while the hound itself, a computer-generated nightmare,
is perhaps less successful than the human element. This version
is distinguished by its emphasis on Holmes and Watson's friendship
in the context of the story. The plot is somewhat altered from the
original in order to focus on Holmes and Watson's difficult relationship.
The PBS Masterpiece Theatre web site contains extensive material
on both versions: