“A man can create evil, but he can never control it.”
Dr. John Watson (Bernard Fox) relays a story about a man named Sir Hugo Baskerville (William Shatner) who in 1762 was hunting down a young woman who he had intended to rape. The legend says that he was thrown from his horse and attacked by a giant hound out on the moors. From that day forward there is said that a curse was placed on the Baskerville name. All the men of the Baskerville family that lived in the family manor, Baskerville Hall, died of unnatural deaths. The latest to die was Sir Charles. The estate now goes to his nephew Sir Henry Baskerville (Ian Ireland). Sir Henry, the last known Baskerville, was raised in Canada and has decided to move into Baskerville Hall.
The family physician, Dr. John Mortimer (Anthony Zerbe), fearing for Sir Henry’s life, has asked Sherlock Holmes (Stewart Granger) for advice. Holmes meets Henry and finds that he has received a letter warning him to stay away from Baskerville Hall. Becoming intrigued with the case and believing there is a human behind the paranormal legend, Holmes agrees to investigate. Holmes and Watson head for Baskerville Hall with Henry and Dr. Mortimer.
While heading to the estate they learn that three convicts escaped from jail. All were believed to have perished. One was shot, one was swallowed by quicksand and the third is believed to have drowned in the lake on the moor. Caring for the manor are the butler, Barrymore (Brendan Dillon) and his wife Eliza (Arline Anderson). Once they have settled in at the estate Dr. Mortimer takes Holmes and Henry out on the moor. While showing them where Charles died they run into Beryl Stapleton (Jane Merrow) and her brother George Stapleton (William Shatner). Henry becomes intrigued with Beryl.
Watson and Holmes find out that Charles received a note from someone with the initials L. L. asking him to come to the moor before he died. Holmes has proof now that it was a set up and knows that there really is a human out to get the last of the Baskervilles. What he needs to do now is find out who and why.
“The Hound of the Baskervilles” was released in 1972 and was directed by Barry Crane. It is an American made for television mystery. The movie was intended to be an ABC pilot for a detective series with different detectives featured each week similar to the “NBC Mystery Movie” which featured a rotating roster of shows such as “McCloud”, “McMillan & Wife” and “Columbo”. The series was never picked up.
There’s not a lot here to really like. Some shortcuts in the story were done and if you haven’t been exposed to Doyle’s story you could easily get lost. The sets are from Universal’s back lot. Most of them previously used in various horror films. Even the music is recycled from William Castle’s “The Night Walker” 1964.
Granger is far too debonair to be Sherlock Holmes. Bernard Fox is just another dumbed down Watson. For the most part all the acting is rather wooden. Anthony Zerbe is the only one that has any kind o animation in his delivery. Even William Shatner, with a very small role, comes off as impassive.
William Shatner sorta has two roles in the film; he plays George Stapleton and Hugo Baskerville. As Hugo he wears a long wig and a beard. His voice is also dubbed by another actor. Probably to disguise that it’s really him so as not to give away the ending. It doesn’t work all that well.
All together it is an average movie and basically not very noteworthy.