Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Sleuth in Silence

The verdict has stood for over a century, and is now beyond appeal:  The public cannot get enough of Sherlock Holmes.   Conan Doyle, at the end of his inkwell, tried to kill him off, to no avail;  he only finally shuffled off that tenacious coil  by the clever expedient of dying himself.  What to do?

One approach is to author, or discover, new Holmesian tales.  (We have ourselves presented such to an expectant audience, here and here.)

Another is to transfer the written word into another medium, principally the stage or screen.   And there is surprising recent news about two such efforts, back in the time of the silents:

A Study in Scarlet was made in 1914 but no known copies of the film exist
The film starred James Bragington as Sherlock Holmes.
"The film focuses on murder and intrigue amongst the Mormons in America."

Baker Street Irregulars --  start tracking it!

The case presents certain features of interest ...

Meanwhile, some Gallic sleuths have run down this one:

A long lost, feature-length silent film starring Connecticut actor William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes was discovered earlier this month in France.
"It's too little to say that William Gillette resembles Sherlock Holmes; Sherlock Holmes looks exactly like William Gillette," said Orson Welles.

For over 30 years, Connecticut actor William Gillette played Sherlock Holmes on stage, logging more than 1,300 performances. According to Henry Zecher, author of William Gillette, America's Sherlock Holmes, Gillette shaped the modern image of Arthur Conan Doyle's British sleuth.

"Gillette created the image," Zecher said. "He wore the deerstalker cap; he smoked the pipe, the dressing gown in his rooms at Baker Street; the phrase, 'It's elementary, my dear Watson,' although the words are in the Sherlock Holmes canon by Doyle, they were put together like that by Gillette. He personified Holmes."

Gillette's long career was winding down as motion pictures and audio recording were in their infancy. Until very recently this audio clip was believed to be the only existing record, besides still images, of Gillette as Sherlock Holmes.

You can listen to the clip at that site.

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