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Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray] [1922] [US Import]

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005SDB7S8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,187 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 14 Sept. 2010
Format: DVD
Movies have been taking liberties with Conan Doyle's creation long before Guy Ritchie, with the Great Profile's 1922 silent take on the Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes (aka Moriarty), a modern-day version ill-advisedly rewriting the book in a manner that offended the purists while not coming up with anything new to appeal to the more casual moviegoer, then or now. Partially shot on location in London and opening with some striking overhead shots of the city, it's not as terrible as its reputation nor as good as it should be considering all the talent and money involved (Reginald Denny, Louis Wolheim and future gossip queen Hedda Hopper are in it as well). Revolving around a blackmail attempt and some love letters to a European Prince from the woman who killed herself when they were prevented from marrying, it's at times a talky script, always a problem in a silent film, with more of a taste for melodrama than sleuthing.

A very loose adaptation of William Gillette's play, it begins with Holmes and Watson as fellow university students, charting his first encounter with Moriarty (on learning the fate of various detectives who have tried to bring him to book, Holmes responds "Oh! - Well, of course, if you're as difficult to know as all that, I'd better be getting back to my microbes") that sets him on a life of fighting crime. But along the way we get Holmes rustically ruminating on human nature and, of all things, falling in love at first sight with Carol Dempster's innocent girl and spending much of the first half of the film in a daze. Or it could be plain disinterest as Barrymore hardly seems terribly engaged with his role, going through the motions of concentrating and staring into the far distance while making little impression.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Don't be mistaken : this is a Barrymore movie, and Sherlock Holmes just the anecdote. Based on a theatrical play, this adventure has the interest of introducing Holmes and Watson in their youth, when they are both students and collaborate in solving a college incident which will have consequences in their future. One of the best scenes is when Holmes examines his own knowledge about life, yet it does not have continuity. Holmes deductive methods and abilities are only anecdotically mentioned although they are what made the character famous, so readers will be disappointed. This is my main criticism.
Being John Barrymore the leading actor you can expect romance and adventure and a glamorous hero. Well, I would have preferred more adventure and less romance being about Sherlock Holmes. The action follows the trend of the times, approaching earlier silent serials in an uncomplicated way. Moriarty, who is played by Gustav von Seiffertitz, looks as a really mean villain but one wonders why as quite more evil would be expected from him, resembling more a Dickens headmaster than the dangerous and intelligent head of a secret criminal system. If you have this in account, the film is just a nice picture if not specially true to the Conan Doyle spirit. As always poor Watson is undervalued and does not receive much attention, yet Roland Young fits quite well and could have offered much more. We meet a young William Powell in a secondary part. Carol Dempster is all right if not impressive as the lady in distress.
The image quality is quite good (thanks to a restored copy) and one can see it was made with generous means as the production design shows (see Moriarty's underground quarters or Baker Street apartments).
Yet as this movie was belived to be lost for many years it is a real pleasure to watch it and a luck to have it with us.
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Format: DVD
An outstanding example of early cinema that should appeal to any aficionado of the silent era, this 1922 film also proves its merit as a serious Holmesian adaptation. While there is no question liberties have been taken with characterization, a testament to the fact it was heavily based on William Gilette's infamous stage play, remarkably enough, those changes flow well with both the character and plot, so that this version of the Great Detective's exploits is actually not so Canonically dubious as this purist had originally imagined it might be.

Featuring possibly one of the most mesmerizing actors to fill the exalted role of Sherlock Holmes, John Barrymore's portrayal cannot be overlooked as mere fluff - true, the acting was above par, the plot strikingly complex, but he slips into the character so thoroughly, sans all those extraneous trappings not found in the stories, which would later become synonymous with Holmes due to the innumerable other actors who left their mark, even the love aspect becomes tolerable - if not believable. It is obvious Barrymore is deriving a monumental portion of his inspiration from Canon, because while there /is/ a love interest for him in the form of Alice Faulkner, his Holmes remains a thinker, his deductions and solutions deeply motivated in intellectualism. And make no mistake, while it does involve a romance, it is more of a background sub-plot, and this film is decidedly not a love-story.

On that account, though, being such an early example, Barrymore has mainly the books to gain insight from, and that is apparent in the way in which he plays a Sherlock Holmes under the spell of Cupid's arrow.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comparing the Blu-ray to the DVD, slight picture improvement & trailers added. 29 Nov. 2011
By Paul J. Mular - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
Comparing the new Blu-ray to the old DVD shows that there are two main, but slight, improvements.
First: The black levels have been raised a little, just enough to bring out details that are hard to see in the old DVD but not enough to make it look washed out. (The same player was used for both discs so it is not a player issue.)
Second: The framing shows just a sliver more picture on all sides. I first noticed this when you can see the film frame line move into the picture and move back out. This is no doubt the result of image stabilization which was masked off in the DVD presentation.

A good frame to compare the presentations on is at 04:14 into the movie. An interior office shot with two men at a desk. At the top of the picture the two books on the mantle piece are completely in view on the Blu-ray, but the DVD cuts off the top of the second book. Likewise there is a knob at the bottom of the picture that gets cut off slightly in the DVD. The right side of the picture is in dark shadows, but on the black-adjusted Blu-ray you can see details of a chair and other objects that are hard to see in the darker DVD.

And yes, Blu-ray has more resolution than DVD so on a big screen the image will look sharper. On a 32" TV you will not notice the difference.

Yes, Kino has technically added some bonus material, 3 theatrical re-issue trailers.
1) Moroder's Metropolis
2) The Complete Metropolis
3) Battleship Potemkin
These are the trailers that recently ran at theaters to promote that theater's showings of Kino's new restored versions.

There is a nice reproduction of a trade magazine ad for the Sherlock Holmes movie on the reverse side of the cover insert that was not on the DVD. And the new menu shows stills from the movie, some may just be frame grabs while others are probably from trade ads.

Other minor changes are a new revised Kino Classics/Kino Lorber logo replacing the old Kino International logo, and a fancier FBI warning logo.

Quite frankly I was surprised to see John Barrymore's Sherlock Holmes come out on Blu-ray, the original film material was not in that great of shape. My first hope was that some of the missing footage was found, not so. Is there reason to re-invest in a Blu-ray copy if you already have the DVD, maybe. The improved details in the shadows do make the movie more enjoyable, but if you are happy with the picture quality of your DVD there is no big reason to upgrade.

For the side-by-side comparison I ran only the first 6 minutes of each presentation on the same Sony Blu-ray player and monitor. I do have an advance review copy. If there is a glaring difference later on in the movie i will update my review.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great To Have On DVD But Wish Movie Was Better. 1 July 2009
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I have looked forward to having John Barrymore's SHERLOCK HOLMES on DVD for quite some time. I had seen the movie before but only in a wretched public domain VHS which was so dark that most of the film was hard to make out. The first half is made up of original material that sets the stage for the second half which is the William Gillette play. Holmes and Watson begin as college students at Cambridge which leads to his first encounter with Moriarty. The scene is clever and memorable. It's a shame the rest of the movie can't match it. Although atmospherically lit, the camerawork is rather static and the direction is often ponderous. To be fair, this restoration by the George Eastman House is 24 minutes shorter than the original and this could be a case of where the missing footage makes it seem longer. There are obvious gaps and the film just doesn't flow right.

The biggest problem with this release as far as I'm concerned is the use of Ben Model's virtual organ score. Model is a fine musician who has enhanced many a silent film but this is a movie that badly needs an orchestral score to cover its deficiencies. This score, while well played and well recorded, failed to keep my interest. Still the movie is definitely worth having for the performances alone. In addition to Barrymore you get to see early turns by William Powell (his first), Roland Young (as Dr. Watson), Carole Dempster (away from D.W. Griffith), Hedda Hopper before she became a columnist, and Gustav von Seyffertitz as the ideal Moriarty. The actual London locations also enhance the proceedings. The Blu-Ray edition is slightly better and is the way to go for the vest results regarding this title.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different and silent Sherlock 25 July 2009
By Barbara Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of several early, silent film versions of the ever-popular detective, and one that lives up to the original and traditional trademarks and characteristics of Sherlock Holmes. In just under 90 minutes, this fast-moving drama takes us from the beginning of Sherlock's career as a freelance sleuth helping out Scotland Yard, meeting his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty, and finishing with the capture of the infamous evildoer after forty crime cases Holmes had worked on over the years. But rather than the typical murders and crimes we are used to today, the story of this 1922 version revolves only around one particular case of a theft and consequent set-up of a European Prince, as well as letters to his betrothed which are later the object of a blackmail attempt. Even so, Holmes puts into action his famous (and often humorous) astute observations and deductive reasoning with his loyal companion, Doctor Watson, and even disguises himself as Moriarty in order to trap the villain once and for all.

What might seem like a somewhat dull and plodding story to modern audiences is given extra appeal and zest by some of the stars, in particular of course, its famous star, John Barrymore. Although this role as Sherlock Holmes doesn't present many opportunities for Barrymore to shine and show off his usual charisma and talents, he does step into the part of Holmes quite well, even if it takes a little getting used to at first. A good villain is also important in stories like this one, and the sinister Moriarty is perfectly portrayed by the brilliant character actor, Gustav von Seyffertitz, who played an impressive array of varied characters, good and evil, throughout the silent era. Also thrown into the mix to attract a wider audience is Carol Dempster, famous for being D.W. Griffith's leading lady in a number of 1920s films, who plays a small but significant role as Sherlock's love interest, adding a twist not expected in the standard Sherlock Holmes mystery. Other viewers might find it of interest to see William Powell, perhaps best remembered for the Thin Man series of movies in the 1930s and 1940s, in his screen debut in "Sherlock Holmes" as Forman Wells, also playing a small yet important role in assisting Holmes.

The picture quality is overall quite good, though perhaps not as outstanding as many other silent films from the early 1920s issued on Kino, and the music is a very good organ score composed and played by Ben Model, who has performed many fine organ accompaniments to silent films. There are no bonus or special features on this DVD, and it is part of a four-DVD set by Kino of John Barrymore silent films, and as part of such a collection "Sherlock Holmes" is an important addition to highlight Barrymore's earlier and unusual roles. On its own, it would be of special interest for Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts in particular, and some knowledge of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would no doubt help in appreciating this particular silent version.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what fun! 13 Dec. 2012
By Jane H. Otoole - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
i love old movies, and am very partial to silents, but the acting can be rather....excessive, shall we say. john barrymore can be a bit of an eye-roller, and his dr jekyll and mr hyde is fun but over the top, so i expected his sherlock to be similarly hammy. boy, was i wrong! he is remarkable---so controlled and thoughtful, it's just riveting. he exudes such quiet charisma, like sherlock holmes should, unflappable and self assured. and it's so much fun to see the likes of roland young as watson, a baby faced william powell, and hedda hopper, before she became a fearsome columnist, in support of barrymore. the story seems to be a composite of several holmes adventures and its very hollywood ending is a little jarring, but i bought this out of curiosity and ended up loving it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Streaming version review - Silent classic and seminal performances but the Midi score needs work 18 July 2015
By Daniel Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I've wanted to see Barrymore's seminal Holmes for quite some time. My review is based on the streaming version through Amazon. The film restoration is better than I expected, allowing for variations in shadows and lighting. The story tends to run long but it's hard to tell if it is the story itself or the effect of the missing material.

Barrymore is a force on the silent screen. Watching his Holmes, I can see the impetus for Rathbone and Brett. Holmes in the hands of Barrymore is a smart man in search of wisdom. Solving crime is easy. The ephemeral qualities of emotion, especially female interactions, stay out of reach. I'm glad the movie was silent because the physical and emotional articulation of Holmes clearly stands out.

A note about Moriarty. Played to perfection by Gustav von Seyffertitz, here is Moriarty as he should be. An evil man with no pretensions of good. No need to clean him up and present him in a tux; Moriarty is comfortable - happy? - with his moral place in the world.

The movie is also notable for screen debuts by Roland Young (as Dr. Watson) and William Powell (as the character Forman Wells). Hedda Hopper also puts in a fine performance.

One disappointment is the organ score by Ben Model. The music is played on a virtual Midi instrument, the Miditizer Virtual Theatre Organ and has an odd, two-dimensional quality that is never really a part of the movie. The notes follow along the film's progress like some barely interested bystander. I would prefer an orchestral score or at least a real theater organ with a score tuned to the movies emotional context. Barrymore's performance could be made all the richer by the complexities of a string score.

Overall, well worth watching for fans of Holmes and silent films.
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