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Sherlock Holmes (1916 film)

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Title: Sherlock Holmes (1916 film)  
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Sherlock Holmes (1916 film)

Sherlock Holmes
Ad in Moving Picture World (October 1916)
Directed by Arthur Berthelet
William Postance (assistant director)
Written by Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
William Gillette (play)
H. S. Sheldon (scenario)
Starring William Gillette
Edward Fielding
Ernest Maupain
Distributed by Essanay Studios
Release dates
  • May 15, 1916 (1916-05-15)
Running time
116 mins (7 reels)
Country United States
Language Silent film
English intertitles

Sherlock Holmes is a 1916 American silent film directed by Arthur Berthelet, produced by Essanay Studios. [1]

The film stars William Gillette as Holmes, adapted from his 1899 stage play of the same name, which was based on the stories, "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Final Problem," and "A Study in Scarlet" by Arthur Conan Doyle. The film was produced at Essanay's studios in Chicago.[2]

It was released in America as a seven-reel feature. In 1920, after World War I was over and American films were returning to European screens, it was released in France, expanded to nine reels so it could be released as a four-part serial--a popular format at the time--with a three-reel first chapter, and two reels each for the other three.

Preservation status

This film had been thought lost. On October 1, 2014, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) and the Cinémathèque Française announced that a print of the film had been found in the Cinémathèque's collection. The restoration of the film was overseen by SFSFF board president Robert Byrne in collaboration with the Cinémathèque Française. The French premiere of the restored film took place in January 2015, and the U.S. premiere in May 2015.[3][4]

The print that was found is a nitrate negative of the nine-reel serial with French-language intertitles which were translated back into English.[1] The film had been mixed up with other Holmes-related media at the Cinémathèque and had been incorrectly labeled.[5]

Plot and outline

The story is that of a prince, the heir apparent to a large empire, who had been the lover of Alice Faulkner's sister. The prince had written some incriminating letters to her during their love affair. On the deathbed of her sister, Alice was given these letters for safe keeping. Count von Stalburg, the prince's assistant, and Sir Edward Palmer, a high British official, have been given the task of negotiating the restitution of the letters to the prince prior to his upcoming marriage.

Alice Faulkner, however, is being held captive by the Larrabees, a husband and wife team of crooks who realize the value of the letters and are trying to get them from Alice in order to blackmail the prince. Failing to secure the letters for themselves, they decide to involve Professor Moriarty in the affair. The film unfolds as a battle of wits ensues between Moriarty and Holmes.

Interestingly, Dr. Watson is only marginally involved until the final third. Holmes receives more assistance from an associate named Forman and a young bellboy named Billy. (Reportedly a very young Charlie Chaplin played Billy during one of the play's runs in London in the late 1900s.)

Gillette performed Holmes 1,300 times on stage, and was responsible for much of the costume still associated with the character, notably the deerstalker hat. Sherlock Holmes is believed to be the only filmed record of his iconic portrayal.[6][1]


Film still from Moving Picture World (July 1916)
  • William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes
  • Marjorie Kay as Alice Faulkner
  • Ernest Maupain as Professor Moriarty
  • Edward Fielding[7] as Dr. Watson
  • Stewart Robbins as Benjamin Forman
  • Hugh Thompson as Sir Edward Leighton
  • Ludwig Kreiss as Baron von Stalburg
  • Mario Majeroni as James Larrabee
  • William Postance as Sidney Prince
  • Chester Beery as Craigin
  • Frank Hamilton as Tim Leary
  • Fred Malatesta as "Lightfoot" McTague
  • Grace Reals as Madge Larrabee
  • Miss Ball as Therese
  • Burford Hampden as Billy
  • Marian Skinner as A Suffragette (billed as Marion Skinner)
  • Edward Arnold as Crippled Henchman In Striped Cap (uncredited)

See also


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ SilentEra entry
  3. ^ San Francisco Silent Film Festival
  4. ^ Phillips, Michael (May 21, 2015). Film Shot in Chicago from 1916 Found in France"Sherlock Holmes"Lost , Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

  • Sherlock Holmes at the Internet Movie Database
  • (1916) at SilentEraSherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holmesstill portrait from the 1916 film (*click and scroll to enlarge picture)
  • Essanay's advert of the film in the Moving Picture World
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