The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – The Hammer Hound

Yesterday (May 26) was the late Peter Cushing’s birthday. So, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looked at his 1959, gloriously colorful version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. It has stood through the years as a favorite for most Sherlockians.

Last week, we looked at Tom Baker’s relatively unknown Hound of the Baskervilles. As this post is being published on May 26, which is the birthday of a classic Holmes, we’ll look his version of The Hound. For on this date in 1913, Peter Cushing was born in Surrey.

Basil Rathbone’s contract expired in 1946, and feeling imprisoned in the role of Sherlock Holmes, he refused to renew it. So great was his shadow that it would be thirteen years before another studio even attempted to make a Sherlock Holmes movie. Hammer Films is legendary in England for their run of horror films, starting in the fifties.

Those old Universal classics from America had never caught on across the pond. Hammer, however, made a series of successful horror films, frequently co-starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

In 1959, Hammer broke new ground with the first colorized version of The Hound. Not surprisingly, they turned to Cushing and Lee to carry the movie.

CushingHoundPipeEither man could have played the lead, but it would be Peter Cushing who starred as Holmes in the lavish production. He had the sharp, lean features that are the stock and trade of a successful screen Holmes. Just as importantly, he was an excellent actor. There are quite a few Sherlockians out there who consider him the finest Holmes.

A close study of Cushing’s performance leaves one with the distinct impression that Jeremy Brett was quite influenced by his mannerisms. The explosive movements, the use of his hands, the theatrical flair in delivering lines: I find more of Cushing in Brett than from any other Holmes.


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