Pen and pictures no. 8 – Arthur Conan Doyle

Here in the UK we have been enjoying the latest screen incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Hot on the heels of Robert Downey Jr’s steampunkish feature film interpretation, Benedict Cumberbatch has starred in the BBC’s Sherlock as a modern day consulting detective. It is a compelling portrayal of a self-described ‘high-functioning sociopath’, and of course is just latest in over a century of screen and stage interpretations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s character. Doyle is the next subject in our series on literary figures and silent films (see earlier posts on Thomas Hardy, J.M. Barrie, Evelyn Waugh, John Buchan, Bernard Shaw and Leo Tolstoy), where each figure is seen to have faced faced up to the upstart phenomenon of motion pictures in a different way. For Doyle, key matters were seeing a character you had created turned into film while you were still writing the stories, and the vexed issue of copyright.

Note: This post is accompanied by a separate filmography for Arthur Conan Doyle and silent era film.

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was a physician and a prolific author of novels, short stories, plays, pamphlets, non-fiction books and poetry. His historical and romantic adventure novels included Micah Clarke (1889), The White Company (1891), The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1896, originally a set of short stories), Rodney Stone (1896) and The Lost World (1912, the first of a series of Professor Challenger tales). His plays included The Story of Waterloo (1907) and The House of Temperley (1912); influential pamphlets included The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct (1902) and The Crime of the Congo (1909). He wrote much else besides.

For all his prodigious literary output, Doyle became predominantly known in his lifetime – and ever since – for the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels. Beginning with the novel A Study in Scarlet (1887), Doyle produced fifty-six Sherlock Holmes short stories (mostly published first in the Strand Magazine) collected in several volumes, and three further novels, The Sign of Four (1890), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) and The Valley of Fear (1915).

Though a number of his plays and adventure novels were filmed during the silent period, it was the Sherlock Holmes stories that attracted film producers the most. The last Sherlock Holmes story was not published until 1927, so Doyle witnessed the extension and wider distribution of his character into other media (there were stage interpretations as well) even as he was still having to think up new stories. He saw the character he had created take on a life of its own, appropriated by other media, embedded in popular culture, to a point where he ceased to have full control over it. Even when he wanted to kill off Sherlock Holmes his public forced him to bring his creation back to life.

Viggo Larsen (right, appearing from a hole in the floor) as Sherlock Holmes in Den grå dame (1909), from http://www.dfi.dk

The separation of character from creator was demonstrated by the first Sherlock Holmes films, which used the name but not the stories. The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company kicked things off with a fleeting comedy, Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900), where the detective on-screen clearly owes nothing more than his name to Doyle’s invention (in the film a cigar-smoking detective is unable to capture a house thief who keeps on disappearing by magic). Other such name borrowings followed, culminating in a 1908-1911 series of Danish films, mostly made by and starring Viggo Larsen as Holmes, for the Nordisk company. Highly popular, the series pitted Holmes against another literary detective, Raffles, as well as featuring Moriarty, though no Dr Watson. The results owed little to Doyle and everything to standard detective thrillers of the period, such as Éclair’s Nick Carter series, with Sherlock Holmes seen as just anothermaster detective without any of his individual characteristics. Only one film from the survives, Sherlock Holmes i Bondefangerklør (1910)

It is not clear whether Doyle was aware of the Danish series specifically, but he was certainly aware in general of films being made which featured his character, which raised the vexed problem of copyright. To what degree did Doyle have any ownership over the character he had created? The situation was unclear, particularly if someone avoided using one of Doyle’s stories or copying the look of Holmes from the Sidney Paget illustrations. In the film world copyright in creative works adapted for the screen had only been recognised since 1911 (in the USA), following a celebrated case concerning a film of Ben Hur (1907), where the producers Kalem had not paid any fee to the author’s estate. In the UK the Karno v Pathé Frères case of 1908 had shown that a film of a dramatic work was a copy of that work, but the situation remained unclear until the Copyright Act of 1911, which recognised motion pictures are works in their own right (and potentially infringing works) for the first time.

As a professional author, Doyle naturally recognised the commercial value of his literary properties and the importance of asserting rights, particularly when it came adaptations. He had seen the value of stage adaptations following the American actor William Gillette’s renowned 1899 stage production Sherlock Holmes, which had been a considerable success in the USA and Britain (where in 1903 the part of Billy was played by a certain Charles Chaplin, then aged fourteen). But the cinematograph promised greater returns for the future. Andrew Lycett, in his biography of Doyle, records this letter that Doyle wrote to fellow author Mrs Humphrey Ward:

… our rights is an asset which is rising in value, no one knows quite how much. English cinemas films are in their infancy, but promise well, and it is there that our hopes lie. Unhappily the higher literature of thought and pathos is handicapped as compared to mere plot and action.

Doyle therefore saw limited opportunities for his grander novels given the supposed limitations of the silent film, but for lower literature (which is how he viewed his Holmes stories), the films offered opportunities – for authors prepared to wait, as the fees they could command got higher.

George Tréville as Sherlock Holmes in the Éclair/Franco-British production The Copper Beeches (1912), from http://www.silentera.com

Doyle’s answer to the challenge posed by the Nordisk films was to sell the film rights to some of the Holmes stories to a film company on a one-off basis, not long after the Copyright Act came into force. For reasons that are unclear, he did a deal with the French company Éclair (though a producers of the Nick Carter series the company may have asserted particular expertise in detective dramas). After an initial foray with Les aventures de Sherlock Holmes (1911), the first official Sherlock Holmes film (Holmes was p;layed by Henri Gouget), Éclair filmed eight two-reelers in Bexhill-on-Sea in Britain in 1912 through a subsidiary, Franco-British Film. With titles such as Le ruban moucheté aka The Speckled Band and Flamme d’argent aka The Silver Blaze these were the first film adaptations of Holmes stories, though indications from reviews are that the results bore scant relation to Doyle’s plots. The films’ producer Georges Tréville is understood to have played Holmes himself. Two episodes of the eight survive (The Copper Beeches and The Musgrave Ritual).

Doyle had more luck with producers adapting his other novels (at least accuracy-wise), with the British company London Film Productions producing prestigious feature film versions of The House of Temperley (1913) and The Firm of Girdlestone (1915). Films borrowing the Sherlock Holmes character continued, with Viggo Larsen, star of the Danish series, moving to Germany for five titles in the Arsène Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes series (1910-11), while the American company Thanhouser made Sherlock Holmes Solves ‘The Sign of Four’ (1913) without any certain acknowledgment of Doyle’s ownership. But it was in Germany where copyright infringement was most flagrant, with Jules Greenbaum (producer of the Arsène Lupin series) making a massively popular six-part series (strictly speaking he wasn’t involved in part four) very loosely based on The Hound of the Baskervilles, which ran 1914-1920, with Alwin Neuss and others playing Holmes.

Doyle really only had control over what was produced in Britain, and the next offical Holmes film was A Study in Scarlet (1914), directed by George Pearson for G.B. Samuelson, with James Bragington playing Holmes (he was not previously an actor but an office worker picked for his Holmesian looks). In the same year the same novel was adapted in the USA in a completely unauthorised version, directed by and starring Francis Ford, brother of John Ford.

In 1921 Doyle finally did a deal with ‘English cinema films’ that matched his expectations financially while satisifying his hopes for a respectful adaptation from page to screen. The Stoll Film Company was the leading film company in Britain, newly established by theatre magnate Sir Oswald Stoll with high ambitions to raise the quality of British films. Central to Stoll’s plans was adapting popular novel and plays with a ready-made audience, while its strongest suit (outside Sir Oswald’s money) was director Maurice Elvey, easily the most talented filmmaker in Britain at the time.

Eille Norwood in a Pathe Pictorial cinemagazine item, shown preparing to appear on stage in The Return of Sherlock Holmes at the Princes Theatre, London in 1923, from www.britishpathe.com

However, what made the Stoll Holmes series such a success was its choice of Holmes. At the age of sixty, Eille Norwood was hardly ideal for the role, and with an average stage and occasional screen career behind him, his name alone was not a draw. But his somewhat cadaverous features echoed the Sidney Page illustrations of Holmes in the Strand, and on screen the transformation was complete. Norwood’s subtle portrayal was grounded in a close reading of the original stories yet was equally attuned to the needs of the screen. Plot sensations (the hallmark of earlier Holmes films) were kept in moderation; now the drama could be read in the detective’s eyes. For the first time one could see the mind of the great detective at work. It helped greatly that Norwood had the ideal foil in Hubert Willis as John Watson – a genial, loyal companion perpetually dumbfounded by the workings of the brighter, deeper mind of his companion.

The series of two-reelers (approx. twenty minutes each), entitled The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and set in the 1920s, ran to fifteen episodes and was issued throughout 1921. It was enthusiastically received in Britain and the USA, with Norwood’s pinpoint interpretation the focus of the praise, though one would now want equally to highlight Elvey’s deft, filmic handling of the material. A rousing feature film followed, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1921, a powerful influence on the young David Lean). Elvey left for other duties to be replaced for two further Stoll Holmes series, The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1922, fifteen episodes) and The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1923, fifteen episodes) directed by the plainer talent of George Ridgwell. Elvey returned in 1923 to direct a second Holmes feature film, The Sign of Four. All films in the Stoll series starred Eille Norwood, who also took his successful interpretation of Holmes to the stage. Of his screen successors, only Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett have been his equal for inhabiting the spirit of Doyle’s creation.

However, the Stoll series raised the thorny issue of copyright once more. Doyle had instructed his literary agent to check the validity of his copyrights in the USA before he signed his deal with Stoll in 1920, but American interests challenged the Stoll series nonetheless. The Goldwyn Corporation argued that Doyle had sold the dramatic rights to the Holmes stories when William Gillette had created his stage version in 1899, rights which then passed on to the Essanay company in 1916 when a feature film was made of Gillette’s play (starring Gillette), and then to Goldwyn, which produced the feature film Sherlock Holmes in 1922, with John Barrymore as the detective. The case was thrown out by the New York Supreme Court, but it demonstrated the muddle that Doyle (or his representatives) had created and the difficulty the law had in separating stage from screen.

The Lost World (1925)

Doyle’s other literary works were also filmed during the silent era. Aside from the London productions of The House of Temperley and The Firm of Girdlestone mentioned above, there were British films made of Brigadier Gerard (1915), Rodney Stone (1920), The Croxley Master (1923) and The Tragedy of Korosco, filmed as Fires of Fate (1923). In France, Éclair returned to filming Doyle with Un drame sous Napoléon (1921), based on Uncle Bernac, while in the USA First National made the hugely successful The Lost World (1925), with its Willis O’Brien-animated dinosaurs and Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger, while Rod La Roque starred as Brigadier Gerard in The Fighting Eagle (1927).

By the time of the great successes of his works in the film world in the 1920s, Arthur Conan Doyle had turned much of his attentions to spiritualism. This side of his personal history is remarkable for the stubborn credulousness he displayed (for example, refusing to believe that Harry Houdini did not have supernatural skills, even when Houdini carefully explained how his tricks were done), but there are few crossovers between his passion for spiritualism and motion pictures. However there are some. Although Doyle only became heavily involved in spiritualism after the First World War, he had shown interest in it and in the allied areas of hypnotism, seances and psychic research as far back as the 1880s. Fascinatingly, Andrew Lycett notes that in 1888 Doyle was in contact with Frederick Myers, a leading figure in the Society for Physical Research, who introduced Doyle to George Albert Smith, then a stage hypnotist whose fraudulent ‘second sight’ act conned the naive SPR members much as Doyle would be willingly conned by spiritualist evidence twenty years later. Whether Doyle actually met Smith Lycett does not say, but Smith would soon abandon his stage career and become a leading filmmaker in Britain in the 1890s (including making films that mocked his former associations, such as The Mesmerist, 1898) and the inventor of the world’s first successful motion picture colour system. This intriguing association aside, in 1922 Doyle used rushes from The Lost World to startle an audience of magicians who could not rationalise what these living pictures of dinosaurs were, while a 1923 documentary, Is Doyle Right?, made by Cullom Holmes Ferrell, purported to explore Doyle’s theories (Doyle had no connection with the film himself).

Finally there are the silent films of Doyle the man. He appeared in at least two American films as himself, when actuality film was taken of him on his visit to the USA in 1914. His friend the American detective William J. Bryan filmed him for a drama in which Bryan starred as himself, The $5,000,000 Counterfeiting Plot (1914), while through the same association with Bryan Doyle also found himself appearing in episode 26 of the serial Our Mutual Girl (1914). In both cases Doyle was briefly filmed as himself, not taking part in the drama in any way. Doyle also appeared in a prologue to The Lost World, once again as himself (a sequence missing from existing copies). He also appeared in some newsreels, notably a 1929 Fox Movietone sound interview (released 1929 but filmed in 1928, according to Greg Wilsbacher’s research in the 2009 Pordenone catalogue), where he spoke about spiritualism and helped usher in the talkies.

Like any professional author of his age, Arthur Conan Doyle was necessarily bound up with the motion picture industry. The movies wanted to film his works, wanted to appropriate his characters, and wanted to film him. The filmography of Doyle and silent era films that acompanies this post has been a challenge to compile, because of the elusiveness of some of the information but also because of problems of definition. When is a Holmes film not a Holmes film? The so-called first Sherlock Holmes film, Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900) is a knockabout spoof with seemingly minimal connection with Doyle’s detective. The first ‘genuine’ Holmes film would not be made until 1911, but with the name rapidly becoming a generic term for anyone on the detective trail, the great number of films that allude to Holmes in one way or another (most famously Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr.) are a part of the film history of Arthur Conan Doyle, if only because they show how tenuous an author’s hold can be on his original creation, once the public has taken it to their hearts.


This post owes much to Andrew Lycett’s Conan Doyle: The Man who Created Sherlock Holmes, Alan Barnes’ Sherlock Holmes on Screen: The Complete Film and TV History, and Jay Weissberg’s notes for ‘Sherlock and Beyond:The British Detective in Silent Cinema’ in the 2009 Pordenone Silent Film Festival catalogue. There is further information on the films described above, and several other films not otherwise described here, in the filmography for Arthur Conan Doyle and the silent era of film which accompanies this post.

The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate provides a present-day copyright statement for the European Community and the United States.

Arthur Conan Doyle – a silent era filmography

John Barrymore as the detective in Sherlock Holmes (1922)- a trailer for the Kino International DVD release

Arthur Conan Doyle: Silent era filmography

This filmography accompanies the Pen and Pictures post on Arthur Conan Doyle and his involvement in film during the silent period. Instead of being strictly chronological, it divides up the silent films of Doyle’s works by producer and series, for greater ease of reference. There are also sections on individual films that weren’t part of any series, films of or about Doyle himself, and films which borrow Sherlock Holmes’ name or characteristics but which aren’t strictly speaking adaptations of Doyle’s works.

Each record gives title, country, year, literary source, genre (using terms adopted by Alan Barnes in Sherlock Holmes on Screen), director, production company, leading actor, length, archive (where the film exists) and DVD (where commercially available). Any corrections or additions are most welcome – please add them to the comments at the end of this post.

1. Films of or about Doyle
Films in which Doyle appeared (deliberately or inadvertently), including fiction films, newsreels and documentaries.

  • The $5,000,000 Counterfeiting Plot (USA 1914), none, none, d. Bertram Harrison, p.c. Dramascope, William J. Burns (as himself), 6 reels, lost [Doyle briefly appeared in this feature film alongside its star and subject the real-life detective William J. Burns]
  • Our Mutual Girl: Episode 21 (USA 1914), none, none, ?, p.c. Reliance, Norma Phillips, ?, lost [Doyle was filmed as himself as he arrived by ship to the USA]
  • The Chevrons Club (for POs and NCOs) (Topical Budget 338-1) (UK 13/02/1918), none, newsreel, none, p.c. Topical Film Company, none, 56ft, Imperial War Museum [newsreel showing Doyle at opening of Club]
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Family (Fox News) (USA 1922), none, newsreel, none, p.c. Fox, none, 132ft, University of South Carolina [newsreel showing Doyle family arriving in New York – same event also filmed by the Kinograms and Pathé newsreels]
  • [Conan Doyle and family] (USA 1923), none, newsreel, none, p.c. Fox, none, ?, lost [newsreel of Doyle and family arriving in New York in 1923]
  • Is Conan Doyle Right? (USA 1923), none, documentary, Cullom Holmes Ferrell (‘author’), p.c. Pathé Exchange, none, ?, lost
  • The Lost World (USA 1925 ), The Lost World, adaptation, d. Harry O. Hoyt, p.c. First National, Wallace Beery (Professor Challenger), 9700ft , George Eastman House, DVD [Image Entertainment] [Doyle appeared in prologue, missing from existing copies)
  • Sir A. Conan Doyle (Topical Budget 792-2) (UK 01/11/1926), none, newsreel, none, p.c. Topical Film Company, none, 56ft, BFI [newsreel showing Doyle laying foundation stone of spiritualistic church]

2. Single titles (Holmes)
Sherlock Holmes films that are not otherwise part of a series or collection of films made by a single film company.

  • Sherlock Holmes Baffled (USA 1900), character, parody, d. Arthur Marvin [credited with photography], p.c. Biograph, ?, 284 ft[?], Library of Congress
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; or, Held for a Ransom (USA 1905), character, pastiche, d. J. Stuart Blackton, p.c. Vitagraph, ?, 221 metres, lost
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Great Murder Mystery (USA 1908), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Crescent, ?, 800 ft, lost
  • [The Latest Triumph of Sherlock Holmes] (France 1909), character, ?, d. unknown, p.c. Gaumont, ?, 566 ft [unclear provenance – original title not traced]
  • A Study in Scarlet ( USA 1914), A Study in Scarlet, adaptation, d. Francis Ford, p.c. Universal, Francis Ford (Sherlock Holmes), 2 reels, lost
  • Sherlock Holmes (USA 1916), A Scandal in Bohemia/The Final Problem, adaptation, d. Arthur Berthelet, p.c. Essanay, William Gillette (Sherlock Holmes), 7 reels, Cinémathèque Française [print discovered in 2014]
  • William Voss, der Milliondeib (Germany 1916), character, pastiche, d. Rudolf Meinert, p.c. Meinert-Film Burstein und Janak, Herr Boerns (Sherlock Holmes), 1041m, Nederlands Filmmuseum
  • Sherlock Holmes (USA 1922), character, adaptation, d. Albert Parker, p.c. Goldwyn, John Barrymore (Sherlock Holmes), 8200 ft, George Eastman House, DVD [Kino]
  • Der Hund von Baskerville ( Germany 1929), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Richard Oswald, p.c. Erda-Film, Carlyle Blackwell (Sherlock Holmes), 7815ft, DIF
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (USA 1929), character, pastiche, d. Basil Dean, p.c. Paramount, Clive Brook (Sherlock Holmes), 6376ft (sound version 7102ft), Library of Congress (sound version only?)

3. Single titles (non-Holmes)
Films made of Doyle’s non-Holmes works that are not otherwise part of a series or collection of films made by a single film company.

  • Brigadier Gerard (UK 1915), Brigadier Gerard, adaptation, d. Bert Haldane, p.c. Barker, Lewis Waller (Brigadier Gerard), 5260 ft, lost
  • Rodney Stone (UK 1920), Rodney Stone, adaptation, d. Percy Nash, p.c. Screen Plays, Rex Davis (Boy Jim), 6500 ft, BFI
  • Un drame sous Napoléon (France 1921), Uncle Bernac, adaptation, d. Gérard Bourgeois, p.c. Éclair, ? , lost
  • The Croxley Master (UK 1921), The Croxley Master, adaptation, d. Percy Nash, p.c. Screen Plays, Dick Webb (Robert Montgomery), 3900 ft, BFI
  • Fires of Fate ( UK 1923), The Tragedy of Korosco, adaptation, d. Tom Terriss, p.c. Gaumont, Wanda Hawley (Corinne Adams), 7185 ft, lost
  • How It Happened (Twisted Tales) (UK 1925), How it Happened, adaptation, d. Alexander Butler, p.c. Repricocity, Sydney Seaward (The Motorist), 750 ft, lost
  • The Lost World (USA 1925 ), The Lost World, adaptation, d. Harry O. Hoyt, p.c. First National, Wallace Beery (Professor Challenger), 9700 ft, George Eastman House, DVD [Image Entertainment]
  • The Fighting Eagle (USA 1927), The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard, adaptation, d. Donald Crisp, p.c. DeMille, Rod La Roque (Etienne Gerard), 8002 ft, extant

Droske 519 (Sherlock Holmes V) directed by and starring Viggo Larsen, from http://www.dfi.dk

4. Nordisk
Danish series of detective dramas which used Sherlock Holmes as a name but which were not adapted from any of the Doyle stories.

  • Sherlock Holmes I/Sherlock Holmes i Livsfare (Denmark 1908), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Nordisk, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 1140ft, lost
  • Sherlock Holmes II/Raffles’ Flugt fra Faengslet (Denmark 1908), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Nordisk, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 680ft, lost
  • Sherlock Holmes III/Det hemmelige Dokument (Denmark 1908), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Nordisk, Einar Zangenberg (Sherlock Holmes), 890ft, lost
  • Sangerindens Diamanter/Sherlock Holmes IV (Denmark 1909), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Nordisk, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 591ft, lost
  • Droske Nr. 519/Sherlock Holmes V (Cab no. 519) (Denmark 1909), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Nordisk, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 1125ft, lost
  • Den grå dame (The Grey Dame)/Sherlock Holmes VI (Denmark 1909), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Nordisk, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 1007ft, lost
  • Sherlock Holmes i Bondefangerklør/Den stjaalne Tegnebog (A Confidence Trick) (Denmark 1910), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Nordisk, Otto Lagoni (Sherlock Holmes), 873ft, Danish Film Institute
  • Den Sorte Haand/Mordet i Bakerstreet (The Blackmailer) (Denmark 1910), character, pastiche, d. Holger Rasmussen, p.c. Nordisk, Otto Lagoni (Sherlock Holmes), 958ft, lost
  • Den forklaedte Barnepige/Den forklaedte Guvernante (The Bogus Governess) (Denmark 1911), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Nordisk, Otto Lagoni (Sherlock Holmes), 1050ft, lost
  • Den stjaalne Millionobligation/Milliontestament (The Stolen Legacy) (Denmark 1911), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Nordisk, Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), 1017ft, lost
  • Hotelmysterierne/Hotelrotterne (Hotel Thieves) (Denmark 1911), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Nordisk, Einar Zangenberg (Sherlock Holmes), 837ft, lost
  • Den sorte haette (Denmark 1911), character, pastiche, d. William Augustinus, p.c. Nordisk, Lauritz Olsen (Sherlock Holmes), 1273ft, lost

5. Mack Sennett series
Some sources say that Mack Sennett starred in eleven Sherlock Holmes spoofs for Keystone, but these four titles (one made for Biograph) are all I have traced, so far, and the degree to which these were Holmes films at all is unclear.

  • The $500 Reward (USA 1911), character, parody, d. Mack Sennett, p.c. Biograph, Mack Sennett (Sherlock Holmes?), ?, lost
  • The Stolen Purse (USA 1913), character, parody, d. ?, p.c. Keystone, Mack Sennett (Sherlock Holmes?), ?, lost
  • The Sleuth’s Last Stand (USA 1913), character, parody, d. ?, p.c. Keystone, Mack Sennett (Sherlock Holmes?), ?, lost
  • The Sleuths at the Floral Parade (USA 1913), character, parody, d. ?, p.c. Keystone, Mack Sennett (Sherlock Holmes), ?, lost

6. Éclair
The first official Holmes films, sanctioned by Doyle. The first film was produced separately in France; the other eight were produced as a series in Britain.

  • Les aventures de Sherlock Holmes (France 1911), ?, ? , d. Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, p.c. Éclair, Henri Gouget (Sherlock Holmes), ?, lost
  • Le ruban moucheté / The Speckled Band (Sherlock Holmes no. 1) (France/UK 1912), The Speckled Band, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1700ft, lost
  • Flamme d’argent / The Silver Blaze (Sherlock Holmes no. 2) (France/UK 1912), The Silver Blaze, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1300ft, lost
  • The Beryl Coronet (Sherlock Holmes no. 3) (France/UK 1912), The Beryl Coronet, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 2300ft, lost
  • The Musgrave Ritual (Sherlock Holmes no. 4) (France/UK 1912), The Musgrave Ritual, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1290ft, Lobster Films
  • The Reigate Squires (Sherlock Holmes no. 5) (France/UK 1912), The Reigate Squires, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1800ft, lost
  • The Stolen Papers (Sherlock Holmes no. 6) (France/UK 1912), The Stolen Papers, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1400ft, lost
  • Le mystère de Val Boscombe / The Mystery of Boscombe Vale (Sherlock Holmes no. 7) (France/UK 1912), The Boscombe Valley Mystery, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1700ft, lost
  • The Copper Beeches (Sherlock Holmes no. 8) (France/UK 1912), The Copper Beeches, adaptation, d. Adrien Caillard? Georges Tréville?, p.c. Franco-British Film/Éclair, Georges Tréville (Sherlock Holmes), 1700ft, extant, DVD [Grapevine and Synergy Entertainment]

7. London Film Productions
Authorised adaptations of two of Doyle’s non-Holmes novels by leading British film company.

  • The House of Temperley ( UK 1913), Rodney Stone, adaptation, d. Harold Shaw, p.c. London, Charles Maude (Captain Jack Temperley), 4500ft, lost
  • The Firm of Girdlestone (UK 1915), The Firm of Girdlestone, adaptation, d. Harold Shaw, p.c. London, Edna Flugrath (Kate Horston), 5100ft, lost

8. Thanhouser
Unauthorised productions from American film company specialising in literary adaptations.

  • Sherlock Holmes Solves The Sign of Four (USA 1913), The Sign of Four, adaptation , d. Lloyd Lonergan, p.c. Thanhouser, Harry Benham (Sherlock Holmes), 2 reels, lost
  • The Crogmere Ruby (USA 1915), character, pastiche, d. Ernest C. Warde, p.c. Thanhouser, Hector Dion (Sherlock Holmes), short, lost
  • The Crimson Sabre (USA 1915), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Thanhouser, Hector Dion (Sherlock Holmes), short, lost

Der Hund von Baskerville, 2. Teil – Das einsame Haus (1914), from http://www.filmportal.de

9. Vitascope / Greenbaum / PAGU
Two series from producer Jules Greenbaum (or connected with him). The Arsène Lupin series featured the star of the earlier Nordisk series Viggo Larsen; the Der Hund von Baskerville series that followed (unauthorised) was initially made by Greenbaum’s Vitascope company in association with PAGU, but the two split and ended up producing rival episodes – see Alan Barnes’ Sherlock Holmes on Screen for an explanation of the complex history.

  • Arsène Lupin Contra Sherlock Holmes 1: Der alta sekretär (Germany 1910), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Vitascope,Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 1115ft, lost
  • Arsène Lupin Contra Sherlock Holmes 2: Der blaue diamant (Germany 1910), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Vitascope, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 1411ft, lost
  • Arsène Lupin Contra Sherlock Holmes 3: Die falschen Rembrandts (Germany 1910), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Vitascope, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 968ft, lost
  • Arsène Lupin Contra Sherlock Holmes 4: Die flucht (Germany 1910-11), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Vitascope, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), length?, lost
  • Arsène Lupin Contra Sherlock Holmes 5: Arsène Lupins ende (Germany 1910-11), character, pastiche, d. ?, p.c. Vitascope, Viggo Larsen (Sherlock Holmes), 902ft, lost
  • Sherlock Holmes contra Professor Moryarty – Serie 1: Der Erbe von Bloomrod (Germany 1911), character, pastiche, d. Viggo Larsen, p.c. Vitascope, ?, 2231ft, lost
  • Der Hund von Baskerville ( Germany 1914), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Rudolf Meinert, p.c. Vitascope, Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), 4386ft, Munich Filmmuseum, DVD [Edition Filmmuseum, forthcoming release]
  • Der Hund von Baskerville, 2. Teil – Das einsame Haus (Germany 1914), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Rudolf Meinert, p.c. Vitascope, Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), ?, lost
  • Detektiv Braun / Sherlock Holmes contra Dr Mors (Germany 1914), character, pastiche, d. Rudolf Meinert, p.c. Vitascope, Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), ?, lost
  • Der Hund von Baskerville, 3. Teil – Das unheimliche Zimmer (Germany 1915), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Richard Oswald , p.c. Greenbaum, Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), ?, lost
  • Der Hund von Baskerville, 4. Teil- Die Sage vom Hund von Baskerville (Germany 1915), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Richard Oswald , p.c. Greenbaum, Alwin Neuss (Sherlock Holmes), ?, lost
  • Das dunkle Schloss (Der Hund von Baskerville. III. Teil) (Germany 1915), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Willy Zeyn, p.c. PAGU, Eugen Berg, ?, lost
  • Der Hund von Baskerville – 5. Teil: Dr. Macdonalds Sanatorium (Germany 1920), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Willy Zeyn, p.c. Greenbaum, Erich Kaiser-Titz , ?, lost
  • Der Hund von Baskerville – 6. Teil: Das Haus ohne Fenster (Germany 1920), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Willy Zeyn, p.c. Greenbaum, Lu Jürgens, ?, lost

James Braginton as Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet (UK 1914)

10. Samuelson
Authorised versions by leading British film company.

  • A Study in Scarlet (UK 1914), A Study in Scarlet, adaptation, d. George Pearson, p.c. Samuelson, James Bragington (Sherlock Holmes), 5479ft, lost
  • The Valley of Fear (UK 1916), The Valley of Fear, adaptation, d. Alexander Butler, p.c. Samuelson, H.A. Saintsbury (Sherlock Holmes), 6500ft, lost

11. Kowo-Gesellschaft
Unauthorised series of feature films which appear to have carried on the Nordisk/Vitascope tradition of exciting detective dramas borrowing Holmes’ name and little more. Some sources say there were up to twelve titles in the series.

  • Die Kassette (Germany 1917), character, pastiche, d. Carl Heinz Wolff, p.c. Kowo-Gesellschaft für Filmfabrikation, Hugo Flink (Sherlock Holmes), 3983ft, lost
  • Der Erdstrommotor ( Germany 1917), character, pastiche, d. Carl Heinz Wolff, p.c. Kowo-Gesellschaft für Filmfabrikation, Hugo Flink (Sherlock Holmes), 4 reels, lost
  • Der Schlangenring (Germany 1917), character, pastiche, d. Carl Heinz Wolff, p.c. Kowo-Gesellschaft für Filmfabrikation, Hugo Flink (Sherlock Holmes), 3724ft, lost
  • Was er im Spiegel sah (Germany 1918), character, pastiche, d. Carl Heinz Wolff, p.c. Kowo-Gesellschaft für Filmfabrikation, Ferdinand Bonn [?] (Sherlock Holmes), 4 reels, lost

Eille Norwood, star of the Stoll series of Sherlock Holmes films

12. Stoll Film Company
The classic adaptations of the silent era, starring Eille Norwood throughout and adapting most of the Holmes stories published to that date.

  • The Dying Detective (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 1) (UK 1921), The Dying Detective, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2273ft, BFI, DVD [Grapevine]
  • The Devil’s Foot (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 2) (UK 1921), The Devil’s Foot, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2514ft, BFI, DVD [Grapevine]
  • A Case of Identity (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 3) (UK 1921), A Case of Identity, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2610ft, BFI
  • Yellow Face (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 4) (UK 1921), The Yellow Face, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2020ft, BFI
  • The Red-Headed League (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 5) (UK 1921), The Red-Headed League, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2140ft, BFI
  • The Resident Patient (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 6) (UK 1921), The Resident Patient, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2404ft, BFI
  • A Scandal in Bohemia (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 7) (UK 1921), A Scandal in Bohemia, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2100ft, BFI
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 8) (UK 1921), The Man with the Twisted Lip, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2412ft, BFI, DVD [Grapevine and Synergy Entertainment]
  • The Beryl Coronet (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 9) (UK 1921), The Beryl Coronet, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2340ft, BFI
  • The Noble Bachelor (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 10) (UK 1921), The Noble Bachelor, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2100ft, BFI
  • The Copper Beeches (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 11) (UK 1921), The Copper Beeches, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2193ft, BFI
  • The Empty House (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 12) (UK 1921), The Empty House, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1800ft, BFI
  • The Tiger of San Pedro (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 13) (UK 1921), The Tiger of San Pedro, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2080ft, BFI
  • The Priory School (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 14) (UK 1921), The Priory School, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2100ft,BFI
  • The Solitary Cyclist (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 15) (UK 1921), The Solitary Cyclist, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2140ft, BFI
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (UK 1921), The Hound of the Baskervilles, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 5500ft, BFI
  • Charles Augustus Milverton (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 1) (UK 1922), The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1900ft, BFI
  • The Abbey Grange (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 2) (UK 1922), The Abbey Grange, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2200ft, BFI
  • The Norwood Builder (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 3) (UK 1922), The Norwood Builder, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2100ft, BFI
  • The Reigate Squires (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 4) (UK 1922), The Reigate Squires, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1900ft, BFI
  • The Naval Treaty (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 5) (UK 1922), The Naval Treaty, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1600ft, BFI
  • The Second Stain (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 6) (UK 1922), The Second Stain, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2200ft, BFI
  • The Red Circle (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 7) (UK 1922), The Red Circle,adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1780ft, BFI
  • The Six Napoleons (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 8) (UK 1922), The Six Napoleons, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1790ft, BFI
  • Black Peter (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 9) (UK 1922), Black Peter, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1800ft, BFI
  • The Bruce Partington Plans (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 10) (UK 1922), The Bruce Partington Plans, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2196ft, BFI
  • The Stockbroker’s Clerk (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 11) (UK 1922), The Stockbroker’s Clerk, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1830ft, BFI
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 12) (UK 1922), The Boscombe Valley Mystery, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2450ft, BFI
  • The Musgrave Ritual (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 13) (UK 1922), The Musgrave Ritual, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1750ft, BFI
  • The Golden Pince-Nez (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 14) (UK 1922), The Golden Pince-Nez, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1675ft, BFI
  • The Greek Interpreter (The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 15) (UK 1922), The Greek Interpreter, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1862ft, BFI
  • Silver Blaze (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 1) (UK 1923), Silver Blaze, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2100ft, BFI
  • The Speckled Band (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 2) (UK 1923), The Speckled Band, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1800ft, BFI
  • The Gloria Scott (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 3) (UK 1923), The Gloria Scott, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2070ft, BFI
  • The Blue Carbuncle (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 4) (UK 1923), The Blue Carbuncle,adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2000ft, BFI
  • The Engineer’s Thumb (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 5) (UK 1923), The Engineer’s Thumb, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2000ft, BFI
  • His Last Bow (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 6) (UK 1923), His Last Bow, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1600ft, BFI
  • The Cardboard Box (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 7) (UK 1923), The Cardboard Box, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1800ft, BFI
  • The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 8) (UK 1923), The Disappareance of Lady Frances Carfax, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1800ft, BFI
  • The Three Students (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 9) (UK 1923), The Three Students,adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2500ft, BFI
  • The Missing Three Quarter (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 10) (UK 1923), The Missing Three Quarter, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2200ft, BFI
  • The Mystery of Thor Bridge (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 11) (UK 1923), The Mystery of Thor Bridge, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2200ft, BFI
  • The Stone of Mazarin (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 12) (UK 1923), The Stone of Mazarin, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1878ft, BFI
  • The Mystery of the Dancing Men (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 13) (UK 1923), The Mystery of the Dancing Men, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2600ft, BFI
  • The Crooked Man (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 14) (UK 1923), The Crooked Man, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 2228ft, BFI
  • The Final Problem (The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes no. 15) (UK 1923), The Final Problem, adaptation, d. George Ridgwell, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 1686ft, BFI
  • The Sign of Four (UK 1923), The Sign of Four, adaptation, d. Maurice Elvey, p.c. Stoll, Eille Norwood (Sherlock Holmes), 6750ft, BFI

Douglas Fairbanks parodying Holmes as the detective Coke Ennyday in The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916), from http://www.nytimes.com

13. Holmes parodies, allusions etc.
This is a selection of the many individual silent era films which parodied, spoofed, emulated or borrowed the names of Sherlock Holmes. No definitive list could be produced, given the all-pervasiveness of the idea of Holmes as master detective. Title, country, date and production company are given.

  • Un rivale di Sherlock Holmes (Italy 1907), p.c. Ambrosio
  • Miss Sherlock Holmes (USA 1908), p.c. Edison
  • Ein Meisterstück von Sherlock Holmes (Germany 1908), p.c. Internationale Kinematograph
  • A Squeedunk Sherlock Holmes (USA 1909), p.c. Edison
  • The Italian Sherlock Holmes (USA 1910), p.c. Yankee Film Company
  • A Case for Sherlock Holmes (UK 1911), p.c. Cricks & Martin
  • Sherlock Holmes Jr. (USA 1911), p.c. Rex
  • A Canine Sherlock Holmes (UK 1912), p.c. Urban
  • Cousins of Sherlock Holmes (USA 1912), p.c. Solax
  • [Sclau, schlauer, am schlauesten!] (France c.1912, p.c. Eclipse [listed by Barnes as a meeting of detectives Nick Winter, Nick Carter, Nat Pinkerton and Sherlock Holmes – original French title not know]
  • Fricot emulo di Sherlock Holmes (Italy 1913), p.c. Ambrosio
  • The Sherlock Holmes Girl (USA 1914), p.c. Edison
  • Sherlock Bonehead (USA 1914), p.c. Kalem
  • Sherlock Holmes roulé par Rigadin (France 1914), p.c. Pathé
  • Shorty and Sherlock Holmes (USA 1914), p.c. Broncho
  • The Sherlock Boob (USA 1915), p.c. Mica
  • Kri Kri contro Sherlock-Holmes (Italy 1915), p.c. Cines
  • La disfatta di Sherlok-Holmes (Italy 1915), p.c. Cines
  • The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (USA 1916), p.c. Triangle, DVD [Kino]
  • A Black Sherlock Holmes (USA 1918), p.c. Ebony
  • Das Detektivduell (Germany 1920), p.c. Valy Arnheim
  • Lya als Sherlock Holmes (Germany 1921), p.c. Albert Löwenberg
  • Sherlock Brown (USA 1922), p.c. Metro
  • Sherlock Jr (USA 1924), p.c. Buster Keaton Productions, DVD [Kino]
  • Sherlock Sleuth (USA 1925), p.c. Pathé Exchange
  • Københavns Sherlock Holmes (Denmark 1925 ), p.c. Palladium

This filmography has been compiled from many sources. Particular acknowledgments to Alan Barnes, Sherlock Holmes on Screen: The Complete Film and TV History, Jay Weissberg’s notes for ‘Sherlock and Beyond: The British Detective in Silent Cinema’ in the 2009 Pordenone Silent Film Festival catalogue, the German film database Filmportal, the two volumes of the American Film Index, Denis Gifford’s The British Film Catalogue and Books and Plays in Films 1896-1915, the American Film Catalog (online version), the Danish Film Institute online national filmography, and the Internet Movie Database.