500,000 Bioscope readers can’t be wrong

Market Theater, New Orleans, 1912, from Wikimedia Commons

Welcome to The Bioscope, the place for news, information, documentation and opinion on the world of early and silent cinema.

With those words, on 4 February 2007, the Bioscope made its modest entry into the blogosphere. 1,047 posts, 1,961 comments and 49,513 deleted spam messages later, and here we are having just paid court to the 500,000th visitor. It’s nice to think that maybe one in 122 of the UK population has visited the site, but there happen to have been quite a number of repeat visitors (hello to you all). Still it’s not too bad to have had half a million visits for a blog on a somewhat obscure theme whose most recent headline post was on the digitisation of a 1903 film catalogue.

While I’m in celebratory mood, here’s a list of some of my favourite articles from the past three-and-a-half years – often because of the comments they have generated, because it is you dear readers who make the Bioscope. Thank you to you all.

Just to round off the statistics, the most successful month ever was March 2010 (18,217 visits). The most visited post by far remains Searching for Albert Kahn, with 13,212 visits (and showing no signs of stopping). Most referrals have come from cablecarguy.blogspot.com (thanks as always, Joe), and the most used search terms are ‘bioscope’, ‘the bioscope’, ‘albert kahn’, ‘kinetoscope’ and ‘louise brooks’. And by rough calculation I reckon there have been some 500,000 words written. One per visit, a gratifying return.

Paul’s Animatograph Works

And the good things just keep on coming. A while ago the Bioscope wrote about the Cinémathèque française’s Bibliothèque numérique du cinéma, a collection of digitised books on early cinema and pre-cinema. We are slowly making our way through these to put some of them in the Bioscope Library, but now many extra titles have been added by the Cinémathèque’s distinguished historian Laurent Mannoni which demand special attention. They include film catalogues, equipment catalogues and programmes. There are 170 documents all told.

The first of these that we’re going to highlight is something quite special – a 1903 catalogue for Paul’s Animatograph Works. It is a catalogue covering the films and equipment sold by one of the leading British film producers of the period, and it is an absolute treasure trove.

The catalogue is fifty-one pages long, and it begins with an introduction to the company and its founder, Robert W. Paul. There is a short company history and photographs of the offices, laboratories, studio, dark rooms, drying rooms and more. There are details of the services provided by the company, then a special feature on their star offering, the Animatograph projector. Other equipment described includes arc lamps, lenses, limelight jets, perforators and of course cameras, with prices given.

Then come the films. These are described in some detail, and most come with frame stills, plus details of length, price and telegraph code for ordering. The catalogues includes such gems as The Automatic Machine; or, What a Surprise!, Garters versus Braces; or, Algy in a Fix and Thrilling Fight on a Scaffold:

BRICKLAYERS, labourers and carpenters are seen busily engaged on different portions of the building of PAUL’S ANIMATOGRAPH WORKS. On a high scaffold, two men are carrying hods of mortar. A quarrel arises between them, and, throwing down their hods, they fight their way along the scaffold until they reach the portion nearest the spectator. The struggle goes on until one of the two throws his mate, who falls with a fearful crash, about 30 feet to the ground. As he lies helpless, his faithful dog runs towards him, and his mates hurry up from all directions, some sliding down the poles. On examination, he proves to be seriously injured, and is only able to rise slightly. His mates help him on to a stretcher and carry him off. A thoroughly exciting picture, well appreciated by country audiences. Code word—Scaffold. Length 100 feet. Price 75s.

Now that’s product placement. Other films described include the recruiting series Army Life, a series of films of the Epsom Derby, music hall acts (including Fregoli, Chirgwin and David Devant), trick films, comedies, actuality subjects, Boer War films and ‘sensational films’, including The Last Days of Pompeii (all 65 feet of it). The volume is available as a 17MB word-searchable PDF, and makes available the kind of precious volume that researchers previously had to travels miles at great expense to find. Now it’s yours (for you can download it, of course) at the click of a mouse.

Pages from the 1903 Paul’s Animatograph Works catalogue, advertising Sensational Films

The Mannoni collection has more on Paul alone. There is a separate Army Life catalogue, a series of films of the West of Ireland and his main catalogue for 1906-07 (17MB), another forty-three pages covering Paul’s later films – without the equipment this time, but with ample details about the films (so many of them lost, of course, with this catalogue providing the only available descriptions), including wonderful illustrations and an index as well. It will have to be the subject of another post.

There are all too few early or silent film catalogues available online as yet, though the Mannoni collection has already changed that quite a little. We’ve championed the digitisation of books, newspapers and journals – now the call needs to go out for catalogues to follow. And to encourage this, we are going to introduce a new section in the Bioscope Library, for silent film catalogues and databases. This section will include the few digitised print catalogues that are out there, but it will also cover online databases.

So welcome to Catalogue Month. Yes, August (we’ve started a bit late so it’ll probably have to run into September for a bit too) is going to see the Bioscope publishing a series of posts that highlight catalogues and electronic databases freely available to all that will help you locate and identify silent films. We will describe how to find them (fairly obviously), what they contain, what they don’t contain, things to look out for, searching tips, and whatever else might come to mind. It won;t cover equipment catalogue, because I just can’t get that excited about cameras and projectors, sorry. As each one is described, a shortened account will go into the Bioscope Library under the new Catalogues and Databases section, so it’ll build up into a collection to treasure. I hope you are going to find it useful.

X-ray fiends

http://www.youtube.com/user/BFIfilms

The latest film to go up on the BFI’s YouTube site is G.A. Smith’s The X-rays (UK 1897). I’ve a modest personal interest in this one, because I identified it and catalogued it when I was working at the BFI’s archive, a dozen or so years ago. It came to us as part of a collection of unidentified 1890s/1900s films which arrived the wake of the celebrated Henville collection of 1890s film which caused quite a stir at the time of the centenary of cinema in 1995/96. Amazingly there were a further three or four small collections of unidentified films of a similar vintage which came our way following all the Henville fuss, and The X-rays was among them.

In truth it was one of the easier early films to identify. Having a man carrying a large camera with the word ‘X-rays’ written on the side was a handy clue, and then the two lovers in the film were readily identifiable from other British films of the period – they were Tom Green and Laura Bayley, the latter the actress wife of the Hove filmmaker, George Albert Smith. A quick check in John Barnes’ The Beginnings of Cinema in England (a multi-volume history of 1890s film in Britain) and hey presto – The X-rays, aka The X-ray Fiend, directed by G.A. Smith for GAS Films and marketed by the Warwick Trading Company in 1898. Easy.

The film was one of those you really hoped would turn up eventually, because it would fit so neatly with the interests of early film scholars. It was one of those films you could practically imagine the filmmaker obligingly producing because he somehow knew it would excite the interests for academics 100 years hence. There is the early special effect caused by the cut from the lovers to their appearance as skeletons, the self-referential use of a camera operator, the narrative generated by visual invention, the intimation of the camera (and viewer) as voyeur, and the important alliance between the cinematograph and Röntgen rays.

Röntgen rays? Well, that’s what they were called for a while, because it was German scientist Wilhelm Röntgen (or Roentgen) who discovered them. He won the first Nobel Prize for Physics (in 1901) for his discovery of the electromagnetic rays which could penetrate solid objects. The discovery naturally had a huge effect on medical practice, and created great popular interest. The rays were quite quickly dubbed X-rays rather than Röntgen rays, and that popular interest was taken up by showmen. X-rays became an attraction at fairs and other public shows, and there were a number of showmen who exhibited motion pictures and X-rays as complementary entertainments. There are records of such showmen in America, Britain, across mainland Europe, in Australia, and in Japan, all operating in the mid-to-late 1890s.

Some of them suffered grievously because of it. British showman William Paley emigrated to the USA and exhibited X-rays 1896-97 until he had to give up because of the adverse affect on his health and turned to film shows instead. Another British showman Jasper Redfern combined the cinematograph with X-rays and was eventually to die of radiation-induced cancer (though this was more likely because of his later medical work researching into X-rays and cancer treatment). Other showmen played it say but simply exhibiting lantern slides showing X-ray images, which was safer and a lot cheaper. Other people associated with film experimented with X-rays or used them professionally – Thomas Edison (whose chief X-ray exerimenter Clarence Dally died of radiation poisoning), Auguste Lumière (a medical experimenter when not running his film and photography business) and James Williamson (a high street chemist by profession).

Dr John Macintyre’s 1897 X-ray film of a frog’s leg, plus later footage (c.1909) showing X-ray pictures of a human heart beat and the movement of the stomach after a bismuth meal

And then there were X-ray medical experimenters who used film. In April 1897 Dr John Macintyre of Glasgow combined the two invention to create X-ray cinematography. He demonstrated the motion of a frog’s limbs, showing his film first to an audience of fellow scientists to the Glasgow Philosophical Society and then again on the Society’s Ladies’ Night, thus interestingly crossing the line between science and entertainment. Macintyre’s film survives, as is available to view at the Scottish Screen Archive’s site and on the National Library of Scotland’s YouTube site.

Other scientists of the period experimented with X-ray cinematography as well, among them the Frenchmen Jean-Charles Roux and Victor Balthazard, who filmed the stomachs of animals, also in 1897. Between 1903-06 another French medical research Joachim Carvallo improved on these processes with a specially adapted camera using 60mm (supplied by Lumière) electrically automated to shoot at different speeds, and later experimenters in the 1900s/10s worked on increasing the size of the object that could be investigated by the rays, among them P.H. Eijkman, F.M. Groedel and the great Jean Comandon, who introduced the indirect filming of X-rays, by filming a screen onto which the rays had been projected. X-rays as a screen entertainment quickly died away, but in the field of science they became the subject of the first medical films and an important milestone in the history of medical imaging.

There’s an interesting literature on X-rays and early film. See in particular Richard Crangle’s ‘Saturday Night at the X-rays – The Moving Picture and the “New Photography” in Britain, 1896’ in John Fullerton (ed.), Celebrating 1895: The Centenary of Cinema, and Lisa Cartwright’s thought-provoking study of the relationship between the moving image (especially early film) and physiology, Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture, which discusses Macintyre’s work. On X-ray cinematographers and other scientists working with film in the early cinema period, see Virgilio Tosi, Cinema before Cinema: The Origins of Scientific Cinematography.

All of which is yet another lesson never to see early film as a phenomenon that existed of itself, by itself. Film was always tied up with something else – in this case medical science – as it tried to find its place in the world by reflecting the world. It’s what makes early film so interesting.

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.

Kinematograph Year Book

Here’s some really welcome news from those sterling people at the British Film Institute. The BFI National Library has started digitising some key reference works that either are BFI-produced or sufficiently ancient enough to be out of copyright. They are being made available as PDFs and are free for anyone to download. Top of the pile and particularly pleasing to see is the Kinematograph Year Book for 1914. The Kine Year Book (The Kinematograph Year Book Diary and Directory, to give it its full name) was one of two British film trade annuals established before the First World War, the other being the Bioscope Annual and Trades Directory, first published in 1910. The Kine Year Book was established in 1914 to accompany the Kinematograph & Lantern Weekly trade journal and is an invaluable directory of the British film business, listing every producer, distributor, equipment manufacturer, cinema, representative body and much more, in the country. It’s necessary to qualify that a little, because the existence of two film trade year books meant that some businesses registered with one and not the other, but you are not going to miss much. It also supplied a detailed account of the previous year’s activity in British film (in this case 1913). Here’s a list of the book’s contents:

A Retrospect Of The Year
Kinematograph Finance in 1913
Survey of the Year’s Technical Progress
Important Film Subjects of the Year
Picture Theatre Music during 1913
The Law and the Kinematograph
Interesting Social Functions
New Theatres Opened in 1913
New Companies Registered in 1913
Review of Decisions made under the
Cinematograph Act 1909
Important Law Cases of the Year
Personalities
Pictorial Reminiscences extending
over 40 years – 1873-1914
Exhibitions during 1913
Trade Associations
Useful Tables and Recipes

Directory
Film Manufacturers and Agents
Film Renters
Apparatus and Accessory
Manufacturers
Picture Theatres in Great Britain
– London
– Provincial
Supplementary List of Provincial
Picture Theatres
Picture Companies and Theatre
Proprietors

A slight downside is that the book has been digitised as plain images i.e. without any word-searchability, which is a great shame. it is to be hoped that the BFI can revisit the digitisation with fresh software to make the ebook all the more useful to researchers – and to do the same for any other silent era books is has in the pipeline. However the individual section are bookmarked in the PDF, which is a help.

Among the other publications the BFI has made available, do look out for Linda Wood’s British Films 1927-1939, a key catalogue and statistical information source for the period, originally published in 1986 (and much used by me ever since). The other books and booklets that have been made available this way are:

  • The Stats: an overview of the film, television, video and DVD industries 1990-2003
  • Producing the Goods? British Film Production since 1991
  • Back to the Future; the Fall and Rise of the British Film Industry in the 1980s
  • British Films 1971-1981
  • British Film Industry (1980)
  • At a cinema near you: strategies for sustainable local cinema development (2002)
  • A Filmmakers’ Guide to Distribution and Exhibition (2001)
  • How to Set Up a Film Festival (2001)
  • Lowdown: the low budget funding guide (1999)

The Kinematograph Year Book 1914 is available in PDF format, size 30MB, and has been lovingly placed in the Bioscope Library.

Lifting the curtain

A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash)

I had an idea to devote August to a particular theme here at the Bioscope, namely catalogues and databases, but problems with some resources I’ve been testing have put that on the back-burner for the time being. Instead, it looks like Asian cinema is becoming our hot topic. If you follow the comments to the recent post on digitised newspapers from Singapore you will find a rich array of information on early Asian cinema studies from two expert scholars in the field, Stephen Bottomore and Stephen Hughes.

It is Stephen Hughes who has alerted us to the existence of BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, a new journal which will be including early film subjects within its remit, as an essay in its first number indicates, Sudhir Mahadevan’s “Traveling Showmen, Makeshift Cinemas: The Bioscopewallah and Early Cinema History in India”. If you follow the Asian cinema category here at this Bioscope you will find a number of posts which cover bioscopewallahs or Indian touring film showmen, some of whom are still operating original silent-era projectors. The term comes from the Bioscope projector first marketed in the USA and the the UK by Charles Urban in the late 1890s/early 1900s, which proved so popular that it spread worldwide not just as a projector but as the name of where you saw films (the term is still common as a place where you see films in South Africa). UK fairground film shows were called bioscopes, many of the first UK cinemas were referred to as bioscopes, and one of the leading British film trade journals of the period was called The Bioscope. Anyway, a warm welcome to a well-named journal, which is operating in a grand tradition.

And then there’s more. On 25 August, at the Nehru Centre in London, there is a launch event for a year-long project (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) on the linkages between silent cinema in India and Britain, entitled Lifting the Curtain: Niranjan Pal & Indo-British Collaboration in Cinema in the UK (1902-29). This project is being managed by the South Asian Cinema Foundation (SACF) and began this May. The project main subject is screenwriter, director and playwright Niranjan Pal, who wrote the Anglo-Indo-German silent features The Light of Asia (1925), Shiraz (1928) and A Throw of Dice (1929, now available on DVD), before becoming chief scenarist at Bombay Talkies in 1934.

The Nehru Centre event will feature film clips and presentations on early cinema, filmmakers, filmmaking and film exhibition in Britain and India, together with information the various film sources that are available for students keen to conduct research in this area – a key aim of the project. The project is supported by the British Film Institute and the British Library, and among the speakers is the BL’s moving image curator, Luke McKernan i.e. me, talking about Charles Urban and the filming in Kinemacolor of the 1911 Delhi Durbar.

More information from the Nehru Centre (scroll down to 25 August) and the SACF site.

Brazilian journey

http://www.cinemateca.gov.br/jornada

Last year we noted for the first time the remarkable festival of silent film in Brazil, the Jornada Brasiliera de Cinema Silencioso or Brazilian Journey of Silent Cinema. The festival returns again 6-15 August and has a strong enough programme to make you think seriously about chaning your holiday plans. The festival is organised by the Cinemateca Brasiliera, São Paulo and is curated by Carlos Roberto de Souza. As the festival press release puts it:

This annual event is dedicated to world cinema produced between the late nineteenth century until about 1930, when the arrival of sound changed the course of the cinematic art. Now in its 4th edition, the Journey has become an important part of the Brazilian cultural calendar, and allows an increasingly larger and more diversified audience to gain access to films from the silent cinema era.

All of the Festival’s scheduled features are to be accompanied by live musical performances in the Cinemateca-BNDES Theater, with ‘silent projections’ (I guess that means silent only) in the Cinemateca-Petrobras Theater.

As in previous festivals, a special feature is made of the production of a national cinema of the silent period and the work of a particular country’s film archive. This year the focus is Swedish silent cinema, and the selected works are restorations from the Swedish Film Archive (Svenska Filminstitutet / Kinemateket). Altogether, there are thirty-five titles, curated into six programmes.

The Nordic countries developed a film industry whose films spread all over the world, until the outbreak of World War I. Although after the war European production had ceded its economic importance to Hollywood movies, Sweden had one of the most brilliant cinemas in film history, with directors like Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller producing great works of artistic expression, not to mention exceptional actors like Lars Hanson and Greta Garbo. The Jornada presents a selection of works that will show a wider panorama of Swedish silent cinema and the film restoration work which has been developed in that country for decades. The opening event will present the film The Blizzard / Gunnar Hedes Saga (Mauritz Stiller, 1923), with live musical performance from Dino Vicente. Alongside the great works of Sjöström and Stiller, to be shown in recent restorations, the festival will present the first film record made in Sweden (Konungens af Siam landstigning vid Logårdstrappan / Arrival of the King of Siam in Logårdstrappan, 1897), and the celebrated Häxan (Benjamin Christensen, 1922), in a print considered by the archive’s curator as the most beautiful of the entire collection.

The Jornada’s inaugural lecture will be given by Jon Wengström, curator of the Swedish Film Institute’s Archival Film Collections; its main themes will be Swedish silent cinema and the conservation work carried out in Sweden. He will speak about the criteria that guided his selection of Swedish Film Treasures, which include two films starring Greta Garbo – Die freudlose Gasse / The Joyless Street (G.W. Pabst, Germany, 1925) and Flesh and the Devil (Clarence Brown, USA, 1926), as well as the single existing fragment of the actress’s collaboration with Sjöström, The Divine Woman (USA, 1928), the scandalous Afgrunden / The Woman Always Pays (Urban Gad, Denmark, 1910), and the extraordinary The Wind (USA, 1928), directed by Sjöström and starring Lillian Gish, which will be presented in the version with musical soundtrack that was released at the time.

The Wind

Other highlights are the films The Dawn of a Tomorrow (James Kirkwood, USA, 1915), starring Mary Pickford, and the audacious Tretya Meshchanskaya / 3 Meshchanskaya Street, or Bed and Sofa (Abram Room, USSR, 1927).

The Jornada has a section which features highlights from Pordenone’s Giornate del Cinema Muto. This year Paolo Cherchi Usai has selected some American productions, the oldest one being the surprising Regeneration (1915), directed by Raoul Walsh; When the Clouds Roll By (1919), directed by Victor Fleming and starring Douglas Fairbanks and Stage Struck (Allan Dwan, 1925), with Gloria Swanson.

Another regular feature is silent films from Brazil. This year the festival will show some documentary feature films restored by the Cinemateca Brasileira in recent years, such as Companhia Paulista de Estrada de Ferro and Companhia Mogyana, portraying industrial labour and the building of the main railways in different cities of the São Paulo region. In the feature drama O Segredo do corcunda (Alberto Traversa, 1924) the train has an important dramatic function, to connect the State’s capital, from the magnificent Estação da Luz, to a small town, with its modest little train station. Turibio Santos, legendary guitarist and the director for many years of the Villa-Lobos Museum, will perform with this film as a special guest of the festival.

The programme “Window to Latin America” will show Wara Wara, made in Bolivia in 1929 by José María Velasco Maidana, which depicts an episode of the Inca civilization during the Spanish invasion. One of the few surviving Bolivian silent films, it was restored at the laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy, and has been presented at the festival Il Cinema Ritrovato, organized annually by the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna.

To honor the 80th anniversary of Cinédia, the main Brazilian film company in the 1930s, founded by Adhemar Gonzaga, the festival will present Lábios sem beijos, directed by Humberto Mauro, the only silent film the company produced (its subsequent movies were early sound films with musical accompaniment and synchronized dialogue, followed by 100% talkies).

The musicians who will be part of the 4th Jornada Brasiliera de Cinema Silencioso are Zérró dos Santos, Daniel Szafran, Wilson Sukorski, Max de Castro, Ruggero Ruschioni, Ana Fridman, Ricky Villas, Zé Luis Rinaldi, Simone Sou, André Abujamra, Marcio Nigro, Dino Vicente, Laércio de Freitas, Eric Nowinski, Marcelo Poletto, Ricardo Reis, Gustavo Barbosa, Daniel Murray, DUO N1, Basavizi, Dante Pignatari, Ricardo Carioba, Matheus Leston, Turibio Santos, Wandi Doratiotto, Danilo and Livio Tragtenberg.

More details are available (in Portuguese), including titles and full descriptions of all films, on the festival site.