The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)**

Basil Rathbone's first appearance in the role of Sherlock Holmes was never intended to kickstart a series, and it's a little shocking to find him second-billed after lightweight romantic lead Richard Greene. While the later Holmes series movies were made at Universal, this (and the follow-up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, made the same year) were produced by Fox. Given their greater resources, the stinginess of the moorland sets seems unnecessarily parsimonious, but on the whole this remains the best overall screen treatment of the novel, notwithstanding a few unfortunate plot deviations and a peculiar parsimoniousness in the matter of incidental music.
All of the Rathbone Holmes movies are distinguished by their excellent 'rep company' of supporting actors, and this is no exception, with Lionel Atwill - later one of the series's several Moriartys - as Dr Mortimer, here played as an overt red herring in pebble glasses, and John Carradine as sinister butler Barryman (changed from the novel's Barrymore in deference to the famed acting dynasty!) Rathbone and Nigel Bruce click instantly in their characterisations and the hound himself - often a letdown in the movies - is more than satisfactorily fearsome.