I am late to the party with reporting/commenting on this news, but a William Gillette silent film has been found that might be of interest to Sherlock Holmes fans. Gillette was late 19th and early 20th century actor who is best known today for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. He made famous the image of Holmes we now know today with the use of a large curvy pipe (a Meerschaum) and the deerstalker (first seen in a Strand magazine illustration by Sidney Paget). Over a period of 30 years, Gillette played Sherlock on stage in over 1,300 performances of his hit play. He also voiced Holmes twice on the radio. Amazingly he only played the Great Detective once on film, a 1916 silent based on his stage story.
This film was thought lost until a few days ago when it was announced by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Cinematheque Francaise that a print had been found in Cinematheque’s archive (it having been mislabeled). The print is undergoing restoration and will premiere in Europe in January 2015 and the U.S. premiere in May 2015.
As a Sherlock fan who has heard about the legendary Gillette for a few years now, I am intrigued and excited to finally see the man in action. Eille Norwood still interests me more when it comes to silent Sherlocks but it does not lessen the anticipation I have for the day I’ll finally be able to watch the once lost film. Fingers crossed for a home video release sometime next year.