The game is afoot. Sherlock Holmes fans around the world have been asked to turn into detectives themselves in order to track down the first ever feature film starring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous creation.
A Study in Scarlet, a silent movie directed by George Pearson, was released 100 years ago this autumn but has not been seen in generations. It is high on the British Film Institute’s Most Wanted films list, and the BFI has now appealed to the general public for any information of its whereabouts.
“Every archivist dreams of finding lost films,” said Bryony Dixon, curator of Silent Film at the BFI National Archive. “But this is a film of great importance. Sherlock Holmes is internationally renowned as a great detective. It would be wonderfully appropriate if a super-sleuth could help us celebrate the centenary of this film with a chance to see it. “
A Study in Scarlet is an adaptation of Doyle’s novel of the same name, which concerns Brigham Young’s trek across America with his Mormon followers and sees Holmes solve a series of murders through masterly deduction.
The call-out coincides with a landmark exhibition on the consulting detective, and the city which inspired the stories, at the Museum of London, opening 17 October. Alex Werner, curator of the exhibition, said:
“The long filmic history of Sherlock Holmes is unique – dominating popular culture in a manner only to be rivalled perhaps by Dracula or Frankenstein. As we prepare for the museum’s major exploration of the most famous fictional Londoner of all time, it would be a remarkable achievement to discover this missing film in its centenary year, and at the very least, remind the public of Sherlock’s endurance on-screen, interpreted literally hundreds of times for over a century.”
Pearson’s A Study in Scarlet was made for the Samuelson Manufacturing Company in 1914. It featured James Bragington in the lead role and was shot at Worton Hall studios and on location.
Fans with any information are urged to get in contact at Sherlockholmes@bfi.org.uk or via Twitter using the hashtag #findSherlock.