Murder at the Baskervilles


1h 10m 1941
Murder at the Baskervilles

Brief Synopsis

Sherlock Holmes returns to Baskerville Hall to track down a stolen racehorse.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
1941

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Sherlock Holmes takes a vacation and visits his old friend Sir Henry Baskerville. His vacation ends when he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a double-murder mystery. Now he's got to find Professor Moriarty and the horse Silver Blaze before the great cup final horse raze.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
1941

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Murder at the Baskervilles


Who were the greatest portrayers of Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective Sherlock Holmes? The list would include Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett and...Arthur Wontner? The last name is probably completely unfamiliar to American audiences but no less than America's greatest student of the Doyle canon, Vincent Starrett, declared "no better Sherlock Holmes than Arthur Wontner is likely to be seen and heard in pictures in our time...His detective is the veritable fathomer of Baker Street in person."

Wontner was 55-years old when he was chosen to play Holmes in The Sleeping Cardinal (1931), the first in a series of low-budget Sherlockian adventures produced by British studio Twickenham Film. Before this, Wontner had a long stage career in a variety of roles, yet all who saw him noticed the actor's amazing resemblance to Doyle's detective. "People had remarked so frequently, 'You really ought to play Sherlock Holmes. I've never seen anyone so like Sidney Paget's drawings.' I had met Conan Doyle a year or so previously, and we had talked about his stories, discussing whether he would dramatise one for me. I was overjoyed when the famous author said he would like me to play his celebrated sleuth."

Cast alongside Wontner as his faithful friend Dr. Watson, was Ian Fleming. No, not the inventor of James Bond, who would be a British investigator a century later and a world away from the quiet mental calculations of Sherlock Holmes. This Ian Fleming was an Australian actor born in 1888 who played Watson with a bit more dignity than Rathbone's Watson, Nigel Bruce. Finishing off the regulars in this series was Minnie Rayner as housekeeper Mrs. Hudson.

Silver Blaze (1937) was the last of the Wontner Holmes movies and was based on the adventure of the same name Doyle had published in the Strand Magazine in 1892. Naturally this short story could hardly provide enough filler for a feature film, so two of Holmes' other acquaintances, the Baskerville family and the fiendish Professor Moriarty, were dragged into the plot. The story takes place on the twentieth anniversary of the events of The Hound of the Baskervilles as Sir Henry Baskerville invites Holmes and Watson to his home for celebrations. The festivities are curtailed, however, after Silver Blaze, a horse favored for the Barchester Cup, vanishes from a local stable. The story plays out as in the original, then takes a side track after Holmes announces "The Professor is behind all this!"

Silver Blaze was not released in the United States until four years later under the new title Murder at the Baskervilles (1941), a title change meant to capitalize on the success of Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes hit The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939). Wontner went on to other roles on stage and screen although none were as famous as his portrayal of Holmes. His last appearance under the deerstalker hat was just before his death in 1960 when he was invited as the honored guest of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Although Basil Rathbone placed an indelible stamp on the character of Holmes, Wontner held the affection of many as the ultimate English Sherlock in English-made films.

Director: Thomas Bentley
Producer: Julius Hagen
Screenplay: Arthur Macrae, H. Fowler Mear, based on the short story by Arthur Conan Doyle
Cinematography: Sydney Blythe, William Luff
Art Direction: James A. Carter
Musical director: De Wolfe
Editing: Michael C. Chorlton, Alan Smith
Cast: Arthur Wontner (Sherlock Holmes), Ian Fleming (Dr. John H. Watson), Lyn Harding (Prof. Robert Moriarty), Arthur Macrae (Jack Trevor), Judy Gunn (Diana Baskerville), John Turnbull (Inspector Lestrade).
BW-65 min.

by Brian Cady
Murder At The Baskervilles

Murder at the Baskervilles

Who were the greatest portrayers of Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective Sherlock Holmes? The list would include Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett and...Arthur Wontner? The last name is probably completely unfamiliar to American audiences but no less than America's greatest student of the Doyle canon, Vincent Starrett, declared "no better Sherlock Holmes than Arthur Wontner is likely to be seen and heard in pictures in our time...His detective is the veritable fathomer of Baker Street in person." Wontner was 55-years old when he was chosen to play Holmes in The Sleeping Cardinal (1931), the first in a series of low-budget Sherlockian adventures produced by British studio Twickenham Film. Before this, Wontner had a long stage career in a variety of roles, yet all who saw him noticed the actor's amazing resemblance to Doyle's detective. "People had remarked so frequently, 'You really ought to play Sherlock Holmes. I've never seen anyone so like Sidney Paget's drawings.' I had met Conan Doyle a year or so previously, and we had talked about his stories, discussing whether he would dramatise one for me. I was overjoyed when the famous author said he would like me to play his celebrated sleuth." Cast alongside Wontner as his faithful friend Dr. Watson, was Ian Fleming. No, not the inventor of James Bond, who would be a British investigator a century later and a world away from the quiet mental calculations of Sherlock Holmes. This Ian Fleming was an Australian actor born in 1888 who played Watson with a bit more dignity than Rathbone's Watson, Nigel Bruce. Finishing off the regulars in this series was Minnie Rayner as housekeeper Mrs. Hudson. Silver Blaze (1937) was the last of the Wontner Holmes movies and was based on the adventure of the same name Doyle had published in the Strand Magazine in 1892. Naturally this short story could hardly provide enough filler for a feature film, so two of Holmes' other acquaintances, the Baskerville family and the fiendish Professor Moriarty, were dragged into the plot. The story takes place on the twentieth anniversary of the events of The Hound of the Baskervilles as Sir Henry Baskerville invites Holmes and Watson to his home for celebrations. The festivities are curtailed, however, after Silver Blaze, a horse favored for the Barchester Cup, vanishes from a local stable. The story plays out as in the original, then takes a side track after Holmes announces "The Professor is behind all this!" Silver Blaze was not released in the United States until four years later under the new title Murder at the Baskervilles (1941), a title change meant to capitalize on the success of Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes hit The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939). Wontner went on to other roles on stage and screen although none were as famous as his portrayal of Holmes. His last appearance under the deerstalker hat was just before his death in 1960 when he was invited as the honored guest of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Although Basil Rathbone placed an indelible stamp on the character of Holmes, Wontner held the affection of many as the ultimate English Sherlock in English-made films. Director: Thomas Bentley Producer: Julius Hagen Screenplay: Arthur Macrae, H. Fowler Mear, based on the short story by Arthur Conan Doyle Cinematography: Sydney Blythe, William Luff Art Direction: James A. Carter Musical director: De Wolfe Editing: Michael C. Chorlton, Alan Smith Cast: Arthur Wontner (Sherlock Holmes), Ian Fleming (Dr. John H. Watson), Lyn Harding (Prof. Robert Moriarty), Arthur Macrae (Jack Trevor), Judy Gunn (Diana Baskerville), John Turnbull (Inspector Lestrade). BW-65 min. by Brian Cady

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