Although The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most popular of the Holmes adventures, the series consists of four novels and a multiplicity of short stories. The short stories are consistently entertaining and every Holmes enthusiast has a favorite. Most often included in anthologies and textbooks is “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” because it is a good example of Conan Doyle’s style and skill in plotting. It was Conan Doyle’s favorite Holmes story.
The best-loved of the adaptations of The Hound of the Baskervilles is the 1939 film, starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. John Watson. Directed by Sidney Lanfield, the black-and-white film includes Richard Greene as Sir Henry Baskerville. Rathbone plays Holmes as an impatient and stylish character, while Bruce plays Watson as a silly but courageous companion. The film has been criticized for dropping some of the novel’s important themes. Even so, Rathbone’s elan, the gothic atmosphere, and the brisk pace of the plot have won the motion picture a devoted following.
In 1959 Hammer Films produced its own version of the novel, directed by Terence Fisher and starring Peter Cushing as Holmes, Andre Morell as Watson, and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. Although rich in Victorian costumes and settings, critics disliked the film because it took many liberties with the plot.
A good version of The Hound of the Baskervilles is Universal’s 1972 made-for-television movie, starring Stewart Granger as Sherlock Holmes, Bernard Fox as Watson, and William Shatner as Stapleton. Directed by Barry Crane, the movie is brisk and entertaining, if not particularly mysterious.