One of Barrymore's most prestigious early roles, this rarely seen film also presents screen debuts of William Powell and Roland Young. When a young prince is accused of a crime that could embroil him in international scandal, debonair super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes comes to his aid, and quickly discovers that behind the incident lurks a criminal mastermind eager to reduce Western civilization to anarchy. Written by
First off I'm not a Sherlock Holmes expert so I'll leave it at that and just comment on the film for what it is, not what it isn't. I have however watched episodes of the Jeremy Brett series on A&E and they're wonderful. For those who always say John Barrymore is a ham, this film counters that argument somewhat as he displays a terrific gamut of underplaying. Not boring but decidedly underplaying. Director Al Parker had to talk Barrymore into doing the picture so the film is more of Parker's labor-of-love than Barrymore's. No 1922 print of the movie survived through the decades as a release print would give evidence of a working continuity and of how this film unraveled to 1922 audiences. Only the actual camera negative survived of this film in a dismantled state. Kudos to Kevin Brownlow for doing a masterful job of re-assembling the negative to where it could be printed for viewing. What Brownlow has edited is 'probably' not too far off from the original release prints. The source for this film is similar, in procurring, the source for Barrymore's 1920 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde in that the story comes from a great author, adapted to a stage play, then the play is used as a source for the film. Having seen three of Al Parker's films 'Eyes of Youth'(1919), 'Sherlock Holmes'(1922) & 'The Black Pirate'(1926), I can say that his directing style stays the same in all three pictures. Parker is only going to give the audience: closeup, medium shot & long shot. Sometimes faint moving camera ie the mock street fight, car leaving down the street. Parker is not going to do as King Vidor or Alan Crosland would do that is experiment in panning camera or tracking shot or zoom. That would've livened up this movie some what. This movie however follows the Griffith school of directing that is lots of stationery camera action in frame and title cards, much like other movies of 1922. J. Roy Hunt's photography is quite low like that of Milton Moore's in 'He Who Gets Slapped'(1924). Perhaps this was to signify the gloomy nature of the story. Original prints were probably tinted like many Goldwyn features of this period. This story should've been left in the 1890s and the movie a period piece rather than update the story to 1922. Both Carol Dempster & Hedda Hopper's characters wear contemporary clothing, Dempster the traditional patterned dresses that are in one quick sequence quite diaphanous. Hopper gets to dress fashionably, hats & all, 1922 style as one of her dresses is loose fitting & comfortable and looks like it was designed by Coco Chanel(parts of this film WERE made in Europe ie: Switzerland & England). William Powell & Roland Young(as Dr Watson) make their film debuts here. Powell later recalled that in 1936 when Barrymore was having trouble auditioning for MGM's 'Romeo & Juliet' and couldn't remember his lines, MGM tapped Powell to replace him. Powell countered that he did not have the heart to replace Barrymore as it was Barrymore who had given him his start in movies in 'Sherlock Holmes'. Louis Wolheim, Reginald Denny and David Torrence round out supporting roles.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?