According to the book "The Sherlock Holmes File" by Michael Pointer, a print of this film survived in a Russian film archive. Unfortunately, no additional information had surfaced since the book's publication in the 1970s, so the film was officially considered "lost". Since that time, a print was discovered in Poland in 2009, and has since been restored. It was shown at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2018. See more »
Sherlock Holmes came into being at the same time as the cinema, and remains a frequently filmed and televised character. THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Arthur Conan Doyle's best novel about Holmes, has been produced at least nineteen times for the big and little screens. This is the last silent version and has many bright points about it.
For the majority of its length, it is a Gothic story of terror, using many of the techniques of horror movies developed to a peak in Germany: the dark lighting, the Dutch angles, a moving, subjective camera that implies an unseen, malevolent, supernatural watcher. It is only when Carlyle Blackwell as Holmes, the modern, rational, intelligent man is on the scene, that the mysteries can be unraveled and sense be made of the murky doings on the moor.
It is, in many a fashion, a last hurrah as silent cinema gave up the ghost. Carlyle Blackwell had been a major star in the 1910s, and a lesser one through the silent 1920s. He would make one more movie, a talkie, and retire from the screen. Alma Taylor, who plays Mrs. Barrymore, had likewise been a big movie star in Britain, the favorite actress of Hepworth, whose studio had disintegrated. She would continue in the movies in minor and unbilled roles for another twenty years.
This movie itself was lost for many years, almost forgotten. It likely never played in the United States, where only MGM of all the majors was still producing silent pictures, and even the minors were rapidly wiring for sound to keep up with the theaters that were doing the same. The other actors would fade, The director, Richard Oswald would wind up in charge of B movies in the United States during the Second World War, even the skilled cinematographer of this movie would go into decline, and light his last set nine years later.
Only Sherlock Holmes would prosper. There would be a couple of years without him appearing on the screen, then three movies about him would be released in 1931, including the first sound version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES.
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