The Chicago “Re-Premiere” of Essanay’s Sherlock Holmes

Michael Smith reports that he and Adam Selzer, co-authors of “Flickering Empire,” will be presenting one of Chicago’s Essanay Studio’s lost films. This feature has not been seen in its original form for close to one hundred years, so this is a major find for film history. You can hear my discussion of “Flickering Empire” with these two authors here: https://theundergroundmultiplex.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/mediatrocities-19-authors-michael-smith-and-adam-selzer-on-flickering-empire-plus-smith-discusses-his-new-feature-cool-apocalypse/

White City Cinema

sherlock3Grubby Victorian London? Nope, that’s Chicago, baby!

During the four-plus years it took Adam Selzer and I to research and write our book Flickering Empire, we spent a lot of time reading about films that were made in Chicago during the silent era that have since been tragically lost. For most of that time, our holy grail of “lost Chicago movies” was the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company’s 1916 production of Sherlock Holmes. The seven-reel feature was, after all, the first feature-length movie centered on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective-protagonist. More importantly, it was the only record of veteran theatrical actor William Gillette’s acclaimed performance as Holmes, a performance he had perfected on stage after playing it for more than fifteen years with the blessing of Doyle himself; it was Gillette who originated the iconic look of Holmes with deerstalker cap and calabash pipe, props that have become…

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