Sherlock Holmes Begins
It all began in 1900 with a half-minute mutoscope flick advertising the latest special effects of the times while simultaneously mocking Sherlock’s cocaine addiction. 1905 had Maurice Costello champion the lead role in the first serious Sherlock Holmes film and he possibly came back for seconds in 1906 but we don’t know. 1907 bore an Italian rip-off that managed to plagiarise Holmes without getting caught by the copyright police. We got a Hungarian Holmes in Bauman Karoly as 1908 started. Viggo Larsen was the first major Sherlock Holmes, he began as the star of a dodecalogy by Nordisk Films, he left after completing five films during 1908-1910; he did not participate in the third instalment of 1909 and had been replaced by Einar Zangenberg for that occasion. Otto Lagoni took over the part for two 1910 films but grew wearisome quickly and hasty replacements were desperately needed to complete that year; Alwin Neuß who had been Larsen’s Dr. Watson was temporarily promoted to playing Sherlock while they scrambled to cast a proper Holmes. Einar Zangenberg reluctantly played the part again and finally they found Lauritz Olsen to make their penultimate film as 1911 signed their death warrant and they lured Otto Lagoni back into the role to finish the series. Viggo Larsen had left to film another series being made by a German Vitascope company and made six more Sherlock films all by himself from 1910-1911. It was 1912 began the reign of the Frenchman, George Tréville, he adapted The Speckled Band, The Reigate Squires, The Beryl Coronet, The Copper Beeches, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Naval Treaty, Silver Blaze and he left as soon as 1913 started, but only after adapting The Musgrave Ritual. Harry Benham had the honours of adapting The Sign of the Four and then Ferdinand Bonn first emerged in 1914, we also got Alwin Neuß back; continuing until 1917 he was the definitive Holmes, making seven films. 1914 was still a big year, James Bragington adapted A Study in Scarlet for the first time and Francis Ford followed suite in the United States. 1916 was another big year, the legendary William Gillette leapt off the stage and onto film for the one time only while The Valley of Fear was first adapted by someone who shared the performances of Gillette’s play, this was Harry Arthur Saintsbury. 1917 said goodbye to Alwin Neuß and the reign of Hugo Flink began for a short time, he made three films and did one more for 1918 before leaving, Ferdinand Bonn came back to make his own four films and Viggo Larsen did another Sherlock film for old times’ sake. 1919 didn’t have much just Kurt Brenkendorff trying out the part and that was it. You all know the rest, Eille Norwood, John Barrymore, Clive Brook, Arthur Wontner, Basil Rathbone….