The Hound of the Baskervilles Cover Did you know that Sherlock Holmes was Jewish, Doctor Watson was Welsh, and that the Hound of the Baskervilles was just a very affectionate poodle? No? Me neither. That is until I saw this 85 minute movie made in 1978, Directed by Paul Morrissey; and Starring: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Terry-Thomas, Kenneth Williams, Denholm Elliott, with Spike Milligan.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Now you listen here, Doctor Watson (Dudley Moore). I want you and Sir Henry Baskerville (Kenneth Williams) to take a train ride over to Baskerville hall, and then investigate why some poodle is killing off old Henry's ancestors. Oh! And while your at it, can you please take Doctor Mortimer (Terry Thomas) with you? Every time he looks at me he gives me the bloody willies.

Huh? What's that you say, you Welsh twat? What do I actually mean by 'investigate'? Well, you know, doc. Once you eventually arrive at this location, you can figure out if what that policeman (Spike Milligan) says is true. And see if an escaped convict is stalking the moors. Then you can introduced yourself to the house servants, the Barrymore’s (Irene Handle and Max Wall), before having a watery-nap in your bedroom.

The following day, though, I suggest you meet the people living nearby. For instance, there's Frankland (Hugh Griffith), the dog enthusiast with the big breasted daughter. Then there's the Stapleton twins, John and Beryl (Denholm Elliott and Joan Greenwood). One of them loves chiwawas, whilst the other one is... errr...  demonically possessed.

Meanwhile, while you're getting on with that, I -- Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cook) -- can stay back home in old London Town, and have a massage by one of my mothers prostitutes. Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all takes a run and jump, when Henry suddenly goes bark raving mad. As furniture is sold - a detective becomes bold - the locals get rather mucky - and at the end of the day, I want to piss off to Kentucky.

Now this is a funny film for me to review really. Not only because I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, plus the rest of the cast. But on certain level, I suppose this movie kind of defines the muddled period it was made in.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson
You see, the same year this version of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ was developed -- 1978 -- Pete and Dud were slowly drifting apart, and they both began to start working on their own projects -- most notably, to Pete’s chagrin. Moreover, I'd surmise this was their last ditch attempt at kicking their comedy partnership back into gear.

But regrettably, it didn't work out for them in that way, did it? And from a historical perspective, this does inadvertently go to show why this movie turned out in the way it did.

On the one hand it's a late seventies British comedy classic, boasting an all star-cast of great British performers who have proven their worth over the years. Whilst on the other hand, the tone of this movie is a rather hodgepodge affair, comprising of an American director, a vaudevillian spirit, a Victorian murder-mystery, plus a punk like attitude.

The Hound of the Baskervilles German Film Poster, 1978, Hugh Griffith
Yeah. I know this sounds somewhat strange, folks. But lets face it. The premise is an amalgamation of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel, mixed in with some of the better sketch material from Pete and Duds television series, ‘Not Only But Also...’.

Furthermore, the cast -- even though fantastic in their respective roles -- are a mixture of subversive greats (like Pete, Dud, Spike, and Wall), with the more flamboyant styling’s of the ‘Carry on’ sect (such as Williams, Terry-Thomas, and Handl), plus, of course, the outr√© crowd too (Elliott, Griffith, and Greenwood).

Yet personally speaking, I'd say ‘strange’ does not necessarily mean ‘bad’. This film is a very good funny film, and it has a shed load of amazing comedian the likes’ of which we will never see again. Granted, in places it does appear quite uneven in tone, with some of the acting styles rather overt, and the overall story-line somewhat confusing. But what is so bad about being confused, when you are being confused by a hand full of comedic legends that are brash, bold, coy, crass, cleaver, and much better than some of the sh*t I've seen in more recent times.

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson

The Hound of the Baskervilles German Film Poster, 1978
Anyway. That's enough of that methinks. So please stand back, dear reader, and brace yourselves for the following filmic-facts. (1) 'Michael White Productions' first released this picture in West Germany, on the very same day that the world's strongest dog pulled 2909 kilograms, 27 meters. It was the 21st of July, 1978. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Howling Dog' in Finland; 'The Follies Follies Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' in Greece; and 'Sherlock Holmes in Troubles' in Portugal. (3) Before he began working in the industry, the director of this film, Paul Morrissey, was once a social worker, helping out the needy of America. (4) During production, the cinematographer assigned to this flick, John Wilcox, became terminally ill, and had to be replaced by Dick Bush. (5) This was the last time Lucy Griffiths and Terry-Thomas ever starred in a full length feature film. (6) Even though the 'Carry On' stalwart, Charles Hawtrey, was offered a role in this movie, he decided to turn it down because he did not want to work with Kenneth Williams any more. (7) Its a little known fact that Spike Milligan worked with Peter Cook during his days as a Goon. And they, along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, created the radio spoof, called, 'Bridge over the River Why'. (8) After this picture grabbed its nuts, Dudley Moore starred in the romantic-comedy, '10'; Peter Cook starred in the radio-satire, 'Derek and Clive Get the Horn'; and Kenneth Williams starred in the Luke-warm, 'Carry on Emmannuelle'.

The Hound of the Baskervilles Artistic Film Poster, 1978, Starring Pete & Dud

Now if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, spoofs, silliness, strangeness, actors of yesteryear, plus seeing dogs pissing on people, then I'd say 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' is defiantly a film for you. A noteworthy film, that is both bold in the watching and nostalgic in the execution. Brilliant. An all time English classic. Don't you agree, old chap?

Nuff said.


THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1978) THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1978) Reviewed by David Andrews on April 08, 2014 Rating: 5
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