Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) has retired. But when Alec MacDonald (Gordon Jackson) asks him to take on another case, he says yes. There have been some mysterious murders, and there are ... See full summary »
William Gillette was the first actor to be universally acclaimed for portraying Sherlock Holmes, having written and staged the first authorized play in 1899. This film is the only preserved record of him doing Sherlock Holmes. See more »
The sign outside Dr. (John) Watson's office reads G. WATSON, M.D. Either nobody noticed the art director's mistake or, more likely, they didn't want to go to the time and expense of making a new sign. See more »
The great news was told to us recently on TCM, accompanied by a premiere showing; a copy of "Sherlock Holmes" was found and restored earlier this year year in France. It was originally released as a 4-part feature in 1916 but was released in France as a 7-part serial in 1920. It has been restored to its original 4 parts and that is what we saw here on TV. It is great news since it is the only existing film of Sherlock Holmes' most famous impersonator, William Gillette.
As impressive as the restoration was, with its alternate scenes tinted blue and orange (the orange seemed gold, but no matter), the story itself was simplistic in nature and lacked the resourceful cleverness of Doyle's stories. Maybe it was the only way to tell a story on film without the benefit of dialogue, but this one was straightforward and without guile. A young woman is held against her will so her kidnappers could make her tell the location of some letters of hers, which could be used for ransom. Holmes wants to help her, and so he does. The bad guys get their comeuppance and all is right again.
Gillette was 60 at the time and was probably heavily made up. Otherwise it would have been a stretch to have him win the heart of the damsel in distress. In no other Holmes story did he 'get the girl'. Nevertheless, it was rewarding to finally view this lost treasure and to realize another lost film could be preserved for posterity.
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