In 2014 it was announced that a negative of this film had been discovered in France and would be restored for the world to see. After being considered lost for nearly 100 years it is miraculous for this to have happened. Once the restoration was complete there were only two planned theatrical screenings; one at the Cinémathèque Française film festival in France in January 2015 and another at the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco in the United States in May of 2015.
I had the good fortune to be able to attend the San Francisco screening at the beautiful and historic Castro Theater. Live music accompanied the screening, performed wonderfully by the Donald Sosin Ensemble. The theater itself was filled to capacity for the single screening and a line trailed down the sidewalk outside the building.
The film itself, post restoration, looked great. The image quality throughout was very strong and consistent with rich detail. One of the most striking features of the film itself is it's camera work and cinematography. Unusual for the time period there is a lot of camera movement and stylized editing. The visual style employed by the film is both very effective and engaging and may well have been a significant influence on other filmmakers of the time. (This viewer has seen nothing similar to it for that era.) As per the original theatrical release the film is color-tinted an orange-sepia for the interior/daylight sequences and a dark blue for the night/exterior sequences. This also is a very effective device that adds impact to the film, and successfully heightens the experience. (Especially compared to if the entire film were in standard black and white.) There is a significant amount of exposition present in the inter-title cards (which had to be translated from French back into English). This may be because much of Gillette's play had to be scaled back for the film adaptation.
What of Gillette? His was the first performance that anyone ever saw of Sherlock Holmes. In general appearance he does seem to be cut almost directly out Sidney Pagent's original drawings for Holmes. At the time of filming he had been playing Holmes for decades and he does portray a rich and nuanced Holmes on screen. His characterization is both powerful and playful at times, displaying a wry sense of humor. While comparisons will be made to every other actor who has been Holmes on screen (particularly Basil Rathbone, his closest contemporary) his physical movement did remind this viewer a great deal of Jeremy Brett. His was a strong and sturdy Holmes and not a thin rail of a man.
Other classic characters are, of course, present. Watson is used minimally, and not surprisingly, often for comic effect. However, it is done with care and he is an intelligent and believable character in the story. In general, the other performances (done by several of Gillette's stage company) are above par for films of the period, but do occasionally dip into Victorian clichés (as does the story now and then).
The script was a pastiche of several Holmes stories and Gillette had Doyle's full permission to take liberties with the cannon, and he does. Audiences should keep this in mind, and note that during filming Sherlock Holmes was not the century-old icon that he is today. Overall, the film is still enjoyable and engaging even for contemporary audiences. Gillette's Sherlock Holmes has aged well, and happily can be enjoyed again by new generations of fans.
Sherlock Holmes, while out for a stroll with Dr. Watson, meets a beautiful woman. They are mutually attracted, but pass without recognition. Later Holmes is engaged by a noble family to recover papers involving the family in a scandal, and which are in the hands of a woman, whose sister was ruined by one of the members of the noble family. She is holding them in order to get revenge. Holmes discovers that the woman who holds these papers is the one that he had passed in the street, and to whom he was so singularly attracted. He tricks her out of the papers, but returns them to her, telling her that he believes that she will eventually give them to him of her own accord. He points out to her how much better it is to let the matter rest than to connect her own name with scandal in order to get revenge, not only on the man who caused her sister's unhappiness, but on the innocent members of his family. Holmes then goes to Watson's house, where he sends a note for the woman who holds the papers to meet him there. His cab driver, who is waiting outside, is the leader of the band of crooks. Holmes has penetrated his disguise, although the crook does not know this. Holmes brings him into the house under a pretext, and there slips handcuffs on him. He has also sent for the nobleman to come to Watson's house. He has Dr. Watson place the woman in a rear room so that she can overhear his conversation. He then turns over a package of blank papers to the nobleman, pretending he thinks they are the right ones. The nobleman berates him for having been duped. Sherlock admits it, and cries that he is ruined. The woman then rushes into the room and through her love for Sherlock gives up the real papers. The nobleman leaves satisfied and as Watson shows him to the door, Holmes slips his arms about the woman, and tells her of his love. —Moving Picture World synopsis
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 05, 2021 at 11:37 PM