A lost Sherlock Holmes movie has been found in France. The 1916 black and white silent movie was found in a film archive in Paris and features footage of the well known British detective Sherlock Holmes being played by original Sherlock American actor William Gillette. The film was thought to be lost, but was found wrongly labelled amongst other unreleased Sherlock material. Staff at the Cinematique Francaise found the film while working on a large scale project to catalog and label the thousands of nitrate movie reels stored at the archive.
This is the only know footage of actor William Gillette, he was best known for being the first ‘proper’ actor to play Holmes on stage, by introducing the well know smoking pipe and deerstalker trademarks. Gillette died in 1937 but most definitely left a legacy for Holmes actors, as well as attributes to the character that can been seen used today.
The film is due to be premiered in its original silent movie form at a US Silent Film Festival in San Fransico in May 2015. Bryony Dixon, curator of silent film at the British Film Institute said in an interview, “this film was at the top of the search list, so is a pretty exciting find. Gillette made Sherlock Holmes a character for the first time rather than a caricature, and it’s amazing how much we think of him was based on Gillette’s image. Quite often discoveries are made in plain sight like this. Collections have cans that just say ‘film’ on them and you don’t know what’s in them until you get them out, which can be very time consuming“.