A Study in Scarlet (lost Sherlock Holmes films; 1914)
In 1914, two separate, silent Sherlock Holmes movies were made under the title of A Study In Scarlet, both of which were based off the 1887 Arthur Conan Doyle novel of the same title. One was made in the UK and was directed by George Pearson, while the other was made in the US and was directed by Francis Ford. Both versions have since become lost.
The version of the film made in the UK is the more famous of the two. Despite some sources stating it is the first film adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes character, this is not true, as the character was first depicted in the 1900 short film Sherlock Holmes Baffled, and had also been featured in many more adaptations between then and 1914. It was released on December 28th, 1914, and starred James Bragington as Sherlock Holmes. Bragington was not a professional actor, and was chosen for the role because his appearance already resembled that of the character.
Other cast members included Fred Paul as Jefferson Hope, Agnes Glynne as Lucy Ferrier (with Winnifred Pearson playing the child role), H. Paulo as John Ferrier, and James LeFre as the Father. The Screenplay was written by Harry Engholm.
No full plot summaries have surfaced, but it is assumed to be similar to that of the novel. According to Jo Botting, from the British Film Institute, “The film focuses on murder and intrigue amongst the Mormons in America.” One part of the movie featured scenes in which a wagon-train crossed a desert, which required extensive planning to shoot. The movie was primarily shot at a studio in Worton Hall, Isleworth, with on-location shots filmed at Cheddar Gorge and Southport Sands.
Outside of 2 stills and a promotional photo, the movie is entirely lost. The film is listed in the BFI’s 75 Most Wanted list.
The adaptation made in the US was coincidentally released the very next day, on December 29th, 1914. Unlike the UK adaptation, this one was not authorized by Doyle. In addition to directing, Francis Ford also played the role of Sherlock, with his brother John Ford playing Watson. Grace Cunard and Harry Schumm acted in the film, though the names of their characters are not known. Grace Cunard also wrote the screenplay.
This film is less sought after by historians and archivists than its predecessor, but is still considered lost as no copies are known to exist. No stills have surfaced, but a few newspaper ads and reviews have.
- Article/interview on the UK movie from The Bioscope. Retrieved 26 Aug '16.
- Article on the UK movie from The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 Aug '16.
- BBC News article on the UK movie. Retrieved 26 Aug '16.
- Article on the US movie from The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 Aug '16.