Bo’ness outing for Sherlock’s found-again lost Hound

A scene from the 1929 Hound of the Baskervilles.  Picture Deutsches Filminstitut.
A scene from the 1929 Hound of the Baskervilles. Picture Deutsches Filminstitut.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s best-known Sherlock Holmes stories - but how did they manage to replicate the beast’s unearthly howling on that god-forsaken moor ... in a silent film?

That mystery will be solved when a 1929 movie epic that was once feared lost forever is screened at next month’s action-packed HippFest in Bo’ness.

As reported earlier this month in Falkirk Herald tickets for this year’s programme are already on sale, for what promises to be several weeks of prime opportunities to see some of the real movie greats of yesteryear.

The year 1929 was nothing if not exciting, what with the Wall Street Crash wiping out fortunes overnight and plunging millions into bankruptcy.

However at least motion pictures were still big business, even although there were no voices and the orchestra (or just a piano in a small cinema) provided all the atmosphere.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, since remade (with full sound effects) many times, was the final Holmes movie from the silent era, and was believed lost for decades.

Screen Scotland notes: “This film has all the mystery and fun an audience would expect, including spooky suits of armour, a dastardly villain creeping about the shadowy ancestral Baskerville home, foggy moors and of course, Watson alongside the world’s most popular detective in deerstalker hat”.

The 35mm nitrate print of this movie was discovered ten years ago in a Polish priest’s basement - just how it got there will probably never be known - and, says Screen Scotland, had long been the Holy Grail of the silent film world.

It was directed by a German, Richard Oswald ,and the surviving print had Czech intertitles, but last year was fully restored by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Poland’s National Film Archive - and premiered at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

During HippFest the film will be screened twice, with live piano accompaniment from musician Mike Nolan and - handy for viewers who don’t read Czech - with English intertitles.

There are full dates and times for all the HippFest movies at http://www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/venues/hippodrome/silent-cinema/default.aspx