A Sherlock Holmes movie from the silent era that was feared lost for many years is to be released on region 1 DVD this July.
American video distributor Kino International will be releasing a reconstructed version of Sherlock Holmes (1922) on its own and as part of a four-disc John Barrymore collection alongside Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), The Beloved Rogue (1927) and Tempest (1928).
The film, titled Moriarty in the UK, was believed completely lost until, in the mid-1970s, a number of negative reels were located at the George Eastman House film archives and pieced back together by film historians Kevin Brownlow and the late William K. Everson, with the aid of director Albert Parker.
The task required deductive powers the great detective would have been proud of, as William K. Everson explained in program notes for the Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society back in September 1975:
“Far more astounding than the film itself are the conditions under which it was preserved. 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 jumbled out of order, with only a few flash-titles for guidance, and the complications of Roland Young with a moustache in some scenes, without in others and a script that in many ways differed from the play, adding to the herculean task of putting it all together.
“However, with the limited help of director Albert Parker, who remembered but little of the film and who died while the reconstruction work was in progress, Kevin Brownlow… did piece it together, replaced titles and generally made sense out of an impossible jigsaw.”
Kino’s release, mastered from the 35mm George Eastman House Motion Picture Department restoration, is still incomplete – an estimated one and a half reels of footage are still missing – but the gaps are plugged by intertitles and production stills.