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FILM by Shane “Elementary” Hnetka

Another year of the Cannes Film Festival has come and gone, and some of the films that premiered are making this year look a little more interesting. For example: director Jeremy Saulnier’s latest movie, Green Room. Saulnier’s last feature was the excellent Blue Ruin, a revenge thriller that was crowd-funded on Kickstarter. Green Room stars Patrick Stewart and is about a punk band fighting evil neo-Nazis. It’s gotten great reviews so far, so whenever it gets a wide release it should be interesting to see.

“My Dear Fellow”

Another “lost” silent classic film has been found and restored.

The name William Gillette might not mean much to people nowadays, but at one time Gillette’s name was synonymous with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Gillette was a famous stage actor and playwright who was contracted by Conan Doyle to adapt Holmes into a play. Conan Doyle had tried himself, but couldn’t get it right. Gillette adapted several of the Holmes stories into a four-act play that became a huge hit — and also created the iconic image and mannerisms we associate with Sherlock Holmes today. Gillette wore the hat and started using a curved pipe — not a straight pipe like the novels. He also coined the famous phrase, “Oh, this is elementary, my dear fellow,” a catch-phrase that would eventually become “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Gillette’s success with the play led him to pose for several illustrations that would accompany Conan Doyle’s later Sherlock Holmes stories, which solidified the character’s look.

During his lifetime Gillette would play Holmes 1,300 times. But he would only play him once on film.

Lost And Found

Though it wasn’t the first time Sherlock Holmes was adapted for the screen, Gillette’s play became a movie in 1916 and it has the only footage of Gillette playing Holmes. The movie had been lost for almost the last century until last October, when a copy was found. Now the film has been restored, and Flicker Alley will release Sherlock Holmes onto Blu-ray this October, along with a ton of extras.

It’s very cool that this piece of history has been rediscovered.

Shane Hnetka is a Regina film and comic book nerd. He also writes Dog Blog’s weekly “Sunday Matinee” column at prairiedogmag.com.

2015-05-28