Sherlock Holmes has appeared on stage and on screen numerous times played by dozens of actors, and now, thanks to a recent discovery, fans of the world’s greatest detective will be able to view a lost but key piece of his on-screen history.
The French film archive Cinémathèque Française announced on Wednesday that a silent film version of Sherlock Holmes produced in 1916 was discovered in their collection a few weeks ago. Produced by Essanay Studios, the film, simply titled Sherlock Holmes, stars William Gillette as the titular detective, a role for which he was known around the world. Gillette is also credited with some of Holmes’ trademark characteristics, including his deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, and pipe.
A nitrate dupe negative of the film was stored away in the archive’s vault, but is now undergoing a restoration process thanks to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in conjunction with Cinémathèque Française.
The film, directed by Arthur Bethelet, is not only the last surviving appearance of Gillette as Holmes, but it is also his only portrayal ever committed to film.
For those who want to witness a piece of Holmes and cinematic history, the film will make its European debut at the Cinémathèque Française’s festival of film restoration, Toute la Mémoire du Monde, in January 2015. The film will then premiere in America at the San Francisco Silent Film festival in May 2015.