Sherlock Holmes (1922 film)

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Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes 1922 lobbycard.jpg
1922 lobby card
Directed by Albert Parker
Written byEarle Browne
Marion Fairfax
Based on Sherlock Holmes
by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle
Produced byF.J. Godsol
Starring John Barrymore
Roland Young
Anders Randolph
William Powell
Hedda Hopper
Cinematography J. Roy Hunt
Distributed by Goldwyn Pictures
Release date
  • May 1, 1922 (1922-05-01)
Running time
85 minutes
136 1/2 minutes (1922 original) [2]
CountryUnited States
Language Silent (English intertitles)
Sherlock Holmes, Length: 1h 25min 28s
Scene from the film. Sherlock Holmes 1922 lobbycard scene.jpg
Scene from the film.

Sherlock Holmes (released as Moriarty in the UK) [3] is a 1922 American silent mystery drama film starring John Barrymore as Sherlock Holmes, Roland Young as Dr. John Watson and Gustav von Seyffertitz as Moriarty. [4]


The movie, which features the screen debuts of both William Powell (credited as William H. Powell) and Roland Young, was directed by Albert Parker. It was written by Earle Browne and Marion Fairfax from the 1899 play by William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle based upon Doyle's characters, and was produced by Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. [5]

The film was considered lost for decades, but was rediscovered in the mid-1970s and restored by George Eastman House.


Cambridge student Prince Alexis (Reginald Denny) is accused of stealing the athletic funds. Friend and fellow student Watson recommends he seek the assistance of classmate Sherlock Holmes. Meanwhile, while honing his observational skills out in the countryside, Holmes falls and is knocked unconscious. A young woman passerby, Alice Faulkner (Carol Dempster), comes to his aid, much to his delight.

Holmes accepts the case, and soon has a suspect, Forman Wells (William H. Powell). Wells eventually confesses he took the money to try to get away from Moriarty (Gustav von Seyffertitz); Wells is actually the son of a crook being groomed by the criminal mastermind for some later scheme. Fascinated, Holmes meets Moriarty face to face, impudently asking to study him, but of course Moriarty refuses to cooperate. Holmes informs Watson he has found his mission in life: to stop Moriarty.

Meanwhile, Alexis's uncle, Count von Stalburg (David Torrence), arrives with important news: both his brothers have been killed in a "motor accident". He is now the Crown Prince, and as such, cannot marry Rose Faulkner, Alice's sister. Heartbroken, Rose commits suicide.

Years pass. Holmes is praised in a newspaper for solving a mystery that baffled Scotland Yard. His investigative skills have failed to locate Alice Faulkner, but their paths do cross again. Moriarty is after Rose Faulkner's love letters from the Prince for blackmail. He has had her destitute sister Alice hired as a secretary by "G. Neville Chetwood", actually a henchman named James Larrabee (Anders Randolf). When the Prince asks Holmes to take the case, he initially refuses, as he holds the Prince responsible for Rose's death, but changes his mind when he learns that Alice is involved.

Holmes has Forman Wells infiltrate the Larrabee household as the new butler. Through trickery, Holmes gets Alice to reveal where she has hidden the letters, but oddly, once he has them in his hands, returns them to her, even though she intends to publish them to avenge her sister. He informs Watson that the letters will be the bait to lure Moriarty out of his lair.

For his part, Moriarty has become frustrated at being driven further and further underground by Holmes' relentless pursuit of him. He has Alice brought to a "gas chamber" (where he has disposed of others). Holmes walks knowingly into the trap, but manages to rescue Alice anyway.

Moriarty then sets his entire vast organization in motion to try to kill his nemesis. Holmes is up to the challenge, however. Most of Moriarty's henchmen are captured by the police, and when Moriarty comes in person (in disguise) to do the job, Holmes nabs him too. Holmes then plans his honeymoon with Alice.



John Barrymore and Roland Young Sherlock Holmes (1922) 2.jpg
John Barrymore and Roland Young

Material held by Eastman House was the basis for a reconstruction produced by Kevin Brownlow and William K. Everson (aided in the early stages by director Albert Parker himself, then in his late 80s), with a second reconstruction (incorporating newly found elements) undertaken by Eastman House itself in 2001. [7] [8] Describing the first reconstruction attempt in 1975, Everson made it clear that reassembling the available material into a viewable form was a far from trivial task: "A few years ago all that existed of this film were rolls and rolls of negative sections, in which every take--not every sequence, but every take--were [sic] jumbled out of order, with only a few flash titles [9] for guidance [...] and a script that in many ways differed from the play, adding to the herculean task of putting it all together." [10]

The 2001 reconstruction was released on DVD by Kino International in 2009, with about 26 minutes of footage still missing. A Kino Blu-ray release followed in December 2011. [8]

See also

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  1. "Variety 4/14/1922 p 43". Internet Archive. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  2. Sherlock Holmes on the Screen: The Motion Picture Adventures of the World's Most Popular Detective by Robert W. Pohle, Jr. and Douglas C. Hart, page 94, c.1977
  3. "It has been suggested that, although there may have been legal reasons, the mediocrity of so many of the earlier Holmes films was the deciding factor in releasing the film in Britain under the title of Moriarty." Davies, David Stuart. Holmes of the Movies: The Screen Career of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House; 1st edition (1978). ISBN   0-517-23279-0. Page 28.
  4. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films: Sherlock Holmes
  5. Original first Broadway performance of William Gillette's play version, Sherlock Holmes, on which the 1916 Gillette and 1922 Barrymore films are based. The play produced by Charles Frohman opened at the Garrick Theatre on November 6, 1899 and ran to June 1900. Gillette revived the play numerous times over the years, according to the database
  6. The Films of Sherlock Holmes by Chris Steinbrunner and Norman Michaels c.1978 page 18(affirms John Willard, the playwright)
  7. Bennett, Carl. "Progressive Silent Film List: Sherlock Holmes (1922)". Retrieved May 22, 2009.
  8. 1 2 Bennett, Carl. "DVD Review: Sherlock Holmes (1922)". Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  9. "When the titles were made locally, the films were exported with flash titles, titles of just a few frames, and the distributor could insert the (local language) titles on the place where the flash title appeared." Restoration of Motion Picture Film, ed. Paul Read. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000. p. 73
  10. Everson, William K. (September 25, 1975). "Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society (program notes)" (PDF). New York University ( Retrieved May 22, 2009.