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Monday, August 19, 2013

Greenbriar Back In The Hound's Grip

Sherlock Holmes The "Hip, Junkie Cop"

Here's a breath-taker ad from that classy decade that was the 70's. It was a best of times, but also a worst, in terms of oldies repositioned as relevant to then-fashion. With the drug culture in full swing, what was more natural than to propose Sherlock Holmes as its lead apostle? Hound Of The Baskervilles may have been in and out of circulation for a while, but "not seen legally in the US or Canada on TV or theatre for over 30 years"? In fact, Hound had been in tube syndication since 1956, with a few breaks as it bounced among distributors. Our Channel 8 in High Point unleashed Hound for its Shock Theatre on 4/27/68, which would have been the first time I saw it. "The highly censored motion picture struggled out of Hollywood" says ballyhoo at left, and who among bell-bottomed patronage would argue? I'd have likely, and happily, fallen for such ruse along with the rest.

A Comparatively Staid Ad From 1939, But Note
How It Also Centers The "Needle" Line
The idea that Hound Of The Baskervilles bore content "not good for public consumption" was icing on countercultural cake for trade these houses hoped to lure. Participating venues were located in the Baltimore vicinity, most having been built as multiplexes in the early 70's (the Rotunda opened in 1974). Anyway, that's four 35mm prints of Hound in play ... wonder how many were generated overall ... do readers recall seeing Hound theatrically around this time? I'd not call 1939's Hound "poignant," but it's enjoyable. Sherlock Holmes as "the first hip cop" is ripe fruit to contemplate, but was he so hip as then-TV's Baretta, or Starsky and Hutch? We can hope Baltimore attendance found him so. "Junkie cop" seems a severe appellation, but like Freaks at the wedding banquet, I can imagine crowds at those twin or more crackerboxes chanting One of us, One of us ... when Holmes called Quick! for his needle. Wonder who dreamed up this ad copy. Probably someone that had successfully programmed movies in college. There were all sorts of tricks to making relics seem new for kids looking to fill an evening. Curiosity was always there for antiquity that somehow spoke to contemporaries --- so what if Baltimore's engagement played loose with truth in advertising? Hound Of The Baskervilles was probably never such fun as with these audiences.


Blogger b piper said...

I caught HOUND in the 70s on a double bill with SCARLET CLAW. HOUND I enjoyed, especially since it's one of the few Rathbones that feels like a "real" Holmes movie, but CLAW was the revelation. After seeing it on a tiny home screen many times watching it in a theater was amazing --- a lesson in how good a B movie could look.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Yes, I saw it during its '70s revival. It ran with Keaton's "Sherlock Jr" and the 1928 newsreel of Arthur Conan Doyle. I admit getting a kick out of that "needle" line at the finale, but what would you expect from a goofy teenager?

1:41 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson narrows down dates for the "Hound" reissue:

That ad, or one much like it, also ran in San Jose, CA in the 70's.

The bestselling "Seven Percent Solution" appeared in '74 and the movie in '76; that may have fueled interest as well (would the term have merited inclusion in the copy otherwise?). The San Jose run also included a filmed interview with Conan Doyle, a one-reeler produced by Fox.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Lou Lumenick said...

That 1975 reissue of HOUND was a big deal in NYC, where it hadn't been shown on TV in years. Packed audience at a still-extant East Side art house (then known as the D.W. Griffith), where it showed with Doyle's Movietone short.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I first saw HOUND on TV in '62 as part of -- Shock! Theater. Now I don't believe HOUND was ever "officially" part of any Shock package, so I've always assumed that some guy at Channel 32 saw they had HOUND around and figured it'd fit right in with the Universal/Columbia package. At any rate, it's always part of Shcok! to me.

I also saw it in the theatre in that '70s reissue, lumped with Buster and Sir Arthur. But on that viewing-- my first look at SHERLOCK JR.-- all my attention and affection went to Buster.

12:11 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

John Story supplies his account of seeing "Hound" theatrically during the 70's:

John: Just read your piece on the "Hound" rerelease of the 70s. It did play Evansville, IN, at what was the Eastpark Cinema and is now the Showplace South bargain theater (still in business after 40 years!). I went to see it out of curiosity as to what it would look like on a big screen in 35mm. I remember it looked great and there was quite a crowd for it that night. Always enjoy your writings!

John Story

6:08 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

I vividly recall the mid seventies theatrical re-issue too, although I didn't catch it. Also remember my curiosity about the 'unseen for many years' claim since I was pretty sure both it and ADVENTURES OF were bundled up with the Universals for syndication just a few years earlier. Saw them all played late night on a Minneapolis station around 1970-72.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I saw it as well then in Wichita, also with the Doyle newsreel.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Eddie Selover said...

John, I saw this in 1975 as well, in Los Angeles. It had never played on TV in L.A. before that, thought the Universals were all in steady rotation. I was a big Rathbone and Holmes fan at the time, so this was a big deal; being a teenager I had to get my parents to take me. The print of the Conan Doyle Movietone was razor sharp – the ones in circulation now on DVD can’t compare. I recall being very impressed with Sherlock Jr., which in my heart of hearts I had to admit was a much better and more important movie than The Hound. There was a lot of buildup about the cocaine reference, and of course Billy Wilder’s Holmes movie and The Seven Percent Solution had stressed Sherlock's drug use. In fact, geek that I was I joined the L.A. Sherlock Holmes society around this time, and the president asked me, half jokingly, if the reason was because I was interested in cocaine.

4:48 PM  

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