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Le guide du film

Sherlock Holmes


The "Guide du film Sherlock Holmes (1916)
with William Gillette

written by Thierry Saint-Joanis 

(president of the Société Sherlock Holmes de France,
member of BSI) 

in collaboration with Bernard Oudin (SSHF, BSI), 

Alexis Barquin (SSHF

& Stephen Almaseanu (SSHF). 

Éditions SSHF, January 2015. 

68 pages. Format A4. 

Colour cover, black & white interior. 120 photos. 

20 € (free shipping!)

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  1. Presentation (p. 3)

  2. Data sheet (p. 9)

  3. Distribution (p. 11)

  4. Synopsis (p. 13)

  5. Press reviews (p. 14)

  6. Photos of the filmimg & film (p. 30)

  7. William Gillette (p. 39)

  8. W. Gillette in Strand Mag. (p. 45)

  9. Ernest Maupain (p. 54)

  10. William Gillette & France (p. 62)

This silent black and white screen adaptation of the American actor’s play deserved to have a book devoted to it, not only because of its importance in the screen career of Sherlock Holmes, but because it was so long believed lost.
All the experts who have spoken so far were limited to suppositions and assumptions deduced from the testimonies of those who saw the film at the time of its release in theatres, usually recorded in the contemporary press.

When all is said and done, although the authorities on Holmesian cinema all say that this film is a milestone in the long career of the detective on the screen, they have actually been able to tell us very little about it.

Even our familiarity with the life and work of William Gillette was of little help in understanding this version of the play. When it comes to the other actors in the film, the situation is even worse. We have had to be content with their filmographies, often sparse, with very little information. The French actor Ernest Maupain is a good example. At the time of filming, he was a real movie star in the US, but now it is impossible to find more than a few lines about his life and career, and even less about his performance as Professor Moriarty in the film Sherlock Holmes.

After months of research, using the Baker Street detective’s own methods, Thierry Saint-Joanis, investigative journalist and founding president of the Sherlock Holmes Society of France, with the help of Alexis Barquin, his faithful “Watson”, has been able to compile and review a wealth of information on this “lost film” – beyond anything we could find so far. The result of his research is now available to readers. And even if the 1916 Sherlock Holmes still keeps some secrets, we have at last brought it out of the shadows.

This detailed guide, richly illustrated with more than a hundred photos – stills taken during the shooting or frames from the film itself, and nearly all previously unpublished – is essential reading before viewing the rediscovered and restored film. And as a reference document it will help to increase and prolong the viewer’s enjoyment of these new-found and almost legendary images.

This book, which is full of information and anecdotes provides answers to many of the questions that have arisen since the demise of silent cinema in the 1930s.

The study of the film is completed with an authoritative article on William Gillette by the internationally respected Holmesian expert Bernard Oudin, author of the best-selling Enquête sur Sherlock Holmes (Gallimard, 2009).

What they think about our book...



Russell Merritt

(BSI, professor at the University of California-Berkeley collaborated on the restoration of Gillette’s film)

"The Guide is simply magnificent. The research on the players and the film's exhibition in particular has opened many doors, and I especially admired the caution with the wide variety of tempting but unsupported claims. The book was a joy to read, and just as important full of new information and altogether reliable."


Jay Weissberg

BFI Film Forever

"Those wanting to know more should track down a copy of Thierry Saint-Joanis’ extraordinary labour-of-love, Le Guide du film Sherlock Holmes (1916), printed in January by the Société Sherlock Holmes en France." 


Peter Blau (BSI)
"Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press"

(The Red Circle of Washington)
« To celebrate the film’s discovery, restoration and release, the Société Sherlock Holmes de France have published Le Guide du Film Sherlock Holmes (1916), a profusely-illustrated 68-page discussion of the film and its actors, with articles by Thierry Saint-Joanis and Bernard Oudin; it is almost all in English... Splendid research. A spectacular job of researching the film. Recommended. »

Don Libey (Buttons)
The John H. Watson Society

«The Society has received a copy of the astounding new publication detailing the research accomplished by our esteemed Member and Leader of Societe Sherlock Holmes de France, Thierry Saint-Joanis “Tristan” with the collaboration of Society Member Alexis Barquin “Olivier,” Bernard Oudin, and Stephen Almaseanu, and with thanks to la Cinemateque Francaise. The large-format, 66 page publication provides in-depth articles, reviews, original documents, profiles and a plethora of photos of the various actors, clips, sets, and a wealth of additional information on the recently discovered 1916 film originally made by Essanay and starring the incomparable William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes and Edward Fielding as Dr Watson. One must believe that reading the book may just be more enjoyable than watching the movie; it truly is that good. As this film was only recently discovered, the publication is absolutely masterful for its scope and coverage, as well as detailed documentation of the film, in so short a period of time. Our French colleagues have demonstrated their remarkable scholarship as well as publishing skills with this magnificent book. The Society extends its admiration and congratulations to Societe Sherlock Holmes de France, and to Thierry Saint-Joanis, Alexis Barquin, and their associates for producing this seminal work on this milestone film in the Sherlockian milieu. »


Steven Rothman (BSI),
Baker Street Journal Editor 

« Just received your wonderful book. I have not sat down to read it yet, but have admired the layout and the wonderful illustrations. I will see if I can squeeze it into the BSJ Spring issue, but it may have to be in Summer instead. »



Charles Prepolec

Sherlock News, The Bootmakers of Toronto

« Lovely publication. While much of the text is in French, the reproduced adverts and The Strand piece on Gillette as Holmes are in English. Those pieces and the many photo reproductions make this worthwhile to English readers. Nicely produced 68 page large-format booklet. I’m impressed with it. »



Roger Johnson (SHSL, BSI) 

SHJ Editor, Sherlock Holmes Society of London

« The lovely new book about the recently restored film of William Gillette’s play, written by Thierry Saint-Joanis. For the Paris première of the newly restored silent film Sherlock Holmes, the only complete recording of William Gillette in his own play, Thierry Saint-Joanis, President of La Société Sherlock Holmes de France, compiled a beautiful 64-page book, Le guide du film Sherlock Holmes (1916). The text is in French, though nearly all the reviews and articles reproduced are in English. »


Nicholas Utechin (SHSL, BSI)

Sherlock Holmes Society of London

« Well done indeed: it looks a fabulous record of the whole matter... So many wonderful items and pictures. »



Daniel Brun (Sherlock Holmes Society of France)

« A beautiful well-documented book, with beautiful pictures, interesting anecdotes, nice layout ... in short, a great job (congratulations to all), and a book to recommend. »



Jean-Claude Mornard

(SSHB, Sherlock Holmes Society of France)

« What a great work! Beautiful book, great pictures, very interesting vintage items, beautiful presentation of the movie, of the original play, interesting evocation of Gillette’s life and career. I was fascinated by the part about Ernest Maupain, French actor who plays Moriarty and I had never heard. And, of course, for the links between Gillette and France (as I did not know, totally, he had the opportunity to see Gémier’s performance in Paris). The object is beautiful, compelling content! »

Robert Byrne, film restorer, film preservationist, and president of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, reveals key insights into the restoration process behind Sherlock Holmes, "the missing link that nobody's been able to see" - until now.

In 1936, William Gillette made a glass disk recording of two scenes from the play "Sherlock Holmes," in which he had famously played the title role. That audio is here combined with short clips from the 1916 film version featuring the original cast. The intent is to recreate approximately the experience of seeing and hearing Gillette's performance. However, Gillette was 83 years old and near death when the sound disk was recorded, so his voice performance is no doubt lacking in some of the energy and charisma that mesmerized his audiences when he premiered the play at age 46.

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