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Sherlock Holmes
(1922)
 

John Barrymore stars as the master detective in this Goldwyn film that also features the motion picture debuts of William Powell and Roland Young.

When Prince Alexis of Arenburg (Reginald Denny) is accused of stealing the Cambridge Athletic Funds, Sherlock Holmes (Barrymore) is brought to the case by Dr. Watson (Young) to investigate. Student Forman Wells (Powell) is soon uncovered as the thief, but Holmes discovers that the crime is no more than a coincidental link to a vast underground conspiracy masterminded by Professor Moriarty (Gustav von Seyffertitz). In the face of such organized and malicious evil, Holmes vows to bring Moriarty to justice.

Some years pass and Holmes is ensconced at 221(b) Baker Street amid the well-known Holmesian trappings. Meanwhile, the prince’s former fiancée Rose Faulkner (Peggy Bayfield) — distraught at her unfortunate separation from the now crown prince of Arenburg — commits suicide, and Moriarty — still pursued by the unrelenting Holmes — has gone deeper underground, and is now attempting to acquire Rose’s letters from her sister Alice Faulkner (Carol Dempster) to blackmail the Prince. Seeking his assistance, the Prince approaches Holmes to investigate the blackmail attempt. As he does, and both of them are aware of each other’s actions, it then becomes a battle of wits between Holmes and Moriarty.

Unfamiliar as we are with the details of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories or of William Gillette’s play adaptation, we cannot vouch for the accuracy of the film adaptation’s characters or plot, but we think that Seyffertitz makes a deliciously creepy Moriarty, looking as he does like a makeup artist’s cross between Ebenezer Scrooge and Fagin. — Carl Bennett

2011 Kino Classics Blu-ray Disc edition

Sherlock Holmes (1922), black & white, 85 minutes, not rated.

Kino Lorber, K848, UPC 7-38329-08482-0.
Pillarboxed 16:9 MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, one single-sided Blu-ray Disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard BD keepcase in cardboard slipcase, $34.95.
BD release date: 13 December 2011.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 8 / audio: 9 / additional content: 2 / overall: 8.
This Blu-ray Disc edition utilizes the same finely-detailed, high-definition video transfer of George Eastman House’s 35mm reconstruction print materials that was issued by Kino on DVD in 2009, which impressively holds highlight details, but is dark and swallows up shadow details. Dust, speckling, timing marks, emulsion scuffing and print damage that is present in the restoration print materials has been allowed to remain in the video master, which appears to be a straight transfer of the source print without digitally-processed defect removal and image stabilization. Some footage is quite unstable and jumps around within the frame, while other footage contains a noticeable amount of film grain, dust, speckling, emulsion chipping and rough splices. Insert shots are represented as photomechanical still frames in the restoration print. Really, the presentation could have (at very least) benefited from image stabilization.

Through the process of watching the film, it is appearent that brief sections of footage are missing — sometimes only a few feet of film, sometimes entire shots or sections — but the narrative appears to be intact, with restoration producers replacing missing intertitles.

The film is accompanied by a music score performed by Ben Model on a Miditzer virtual (computer-based) theatre pipe organ.

The disc is supplemented by promotional trailers for three other 2011 Kino Lorber home video releases.

As good as the 2009 Kino DVD edition (noted just below) was, this Blu-ray Disc edition is just a but better, with its extra sharpness and its finer rendering of the difficult to hold darker graytones. This is our top recommendation for a home video edition of Sherlock Holmes.

 
USA: Click the logomark at right to purchase this Region-Free Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase helps support the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark at right to purchase this Region-Free Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase helps support the Silent Era website.
2009 Kino International DVD edition

Sherlock Holmes (1922), black & white, 85 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K655, UPC 7-38329-06552-2.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.95.
DVD release date: 7 July 2009.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 9 / additional content: 0 / overall: 7.

Throw away those crappy VHS videotapes of Sherlock Holmes you’ve been holding onto over the years. This is the first high-quality DVD edition mastered from George Eastman House’s 2001 reconstruction (their second) of the 1922 feature film, long thought to be lost in print fragments. This recent reconstruction is likely to be the most complete surviving version of the still incomplete film until additional footage or a complete print is recovered sometime in the future.

The disc utilizes a finely-detailed (likely high-definition) video transfer of George Eastman House’s 35mm reconstruction print materials that impressively holds highlight details, but is dark and swallows up shadow details. Dust, speckling, timing marks, emulsion scuffing and print damage that is present in the restoration print materials has been allowed to remain in the video master, which appears to be a straight transfer of the source print without digitally-processed defect removal and image stabilization. Some footage is quite unstable and jitters around the frame, while other footage contains a noticeable amount of film grain, dust, speckling, emulsion chipping and rough splices. Insert shots are represented as photomechanical still frames in the restoration print.

Through the process of watching the film, it is appearent that brief sections of footage are missing — sometimes only a few feet of film, sometimes entire shots or sections — but the narrative appears to be intact, with restoration producers replacing missing intertitles.

The film is accompanied by a music score performed by Ben Model on a Miditzer virtual (computer-based) theatre pipe organ, which sounds quite genuine and pleasing.

A generally good-looking disc despite the restoration print’s authentic warts, we highly recommend this DVD home video edition of Sherlock Holmes.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era JOHN BARRYMORE films available on home video.

Other silent era WILLIAM POWELL films available on home video.

 
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