Sherlock Holmes
Live musical accompaniment by the Donald Sosin Ensemble
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Showings
Castro TheatreSun, May 31, 2015 7:00 PM
$22 general / $20 member (No processing fee!)
Tickets may be released at showtime at the Castro.
 
Film Info
Director:Arthur Berthelet
Cast:William Gillette
Marjorie Kay
Ernest Maupain
Edward Fielding
Stewart Robbins
Hugh Thompson
Year:1916
Country:USA
Total Run Time:116 mins.
Description
Advance tickets are sold out! Show up to the Castro just before showtime to see if Rush tickets get released.

The silent film version of Sherlock Holmes starring William Gillette has been found! Long considered lost since its first release, the Gillette film is a vital missing link in the history of Holmes on screen. Directed by Arthur Berthelet and produced by Essanay Studios in 1916, it was discovered at the Cinémathèque Française recently.

By the time the film was made, Gillette had been established as the world’s foremost interpreter of Holmes on stage. He gave his face and manner to the detective and inspired the classic illustrations of Frederic Dorr Steele. Dynamic but calm, he played Holmes in the colorful attire—bent-stemmed briar, ornate dressing gown, and deerstalker cap—that has been identified ever since with the character. Just as durable was Gillette’s distinctive bearing, preserved in the film: the charismatic, all-seeing detective who dominates scenes with his preternatural stillness. Booth Tarkington famously wrote after seeing Gillette on stage, “I would rather see you play Sherlock Holmes than be a child again on Christmas morning.” For the well-known Chicago bookman, Vincent Starrett, Gillette was beyond criticism. But perhaps the most telling accolade came from Arthur Conan Doyle himself, who had killed Holmes off and thought he was through with the character. After reading Gillette’s adaptation for the stage, he said, “It’s good to see the old chap back.”

“Sir Arthur, you don’t know the half of it,” says Professor Russell Merritt, the supervising editor of the film's preservation project and member of the Baker Street Irregulars. “At last we get to see for ourselves the actor who kept the first generation of Sherlockians spellbound. We can also see where the future Holmeses—Rathbone, Brett, Cumberbatch, and the rest—come from. As far as Holmes is concerned, there’s not an actor dead or alive who hasn’t consciously or intuitively played off Gillette.”

The newly found Essanay production is not only Gillette’s sole surviving appearance as Holmes. It is also the only film Gillette ever made, a unique opportunity to view the work of a major American actor in the legendary role that he wrote for himself. The film faithfully retains the play’s famous set pieces—Holmes’s encounter with Professor Moriarty, his daring escape from the Stepney Gas Chamber, and the tour-de-force deductions—and illustrates how Gillette wove bits from Conan Doyle’s stories, ranging from “A Scandal in Bohemia” to “The Final Problem,” into an original, innovative mystery play.

Restored by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and the Cinémathèque Française.


Live musical accompaniment by the Donald Sosin Ensemble

Introduced by Robert Byrne and Russell Merritt

Underwritten by Glen Miranker

Special support from contributors to the Baker Street Circle

Co-presented by Flicker Alley