Solving a nearly 100-year-old mystery, a long-lost Sherlock Holmes silent film starring William Gillette has been discovered at the Cinematheque Francaise—no doubt after investigators issued a winding, cocaine-fueled monologue in which they deduced that the French are not very trustworthy. The 1916 film was directed by Arthur Berthelet for Essanay Studios, and it was the only one to feature Gillette, whose performances as Holmes on stage and the radio brought him worldwide acclaim. Gillette was also responsible for establishing some of the now-familiar traits associated with the famed detective, including his deerstalker hat, his curved pipe, the phrase “This is elementary,” his use of a violin, magnifying glass, and syringe, and just adding whatever you want to Sherlock Holmes, regardless of whether it’s considered “canon.”
The film is currently being digitally restored for a screening at the Cinematheque’s Toute la Mémoire du Monde festival in a January, with a U.S. screening to follow in May at the San Francisco Film Festival. With the original Sherlock Holmes returned, it’s believed that all other versions of the story can now be safely destroyed.