The Mystery Holmes

BragingtonPeter Haining’s The Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook reprints a story from the June 12, 1965 Evening Mail with the title, The Case of the Unknown Sherlock. It was accompanied by this picture.

In 1914, George Pearson was filming A Study in Scarlet for the Samuelson Film Company in England. As he said: I particularly wanted someone who fitted the image of Sherlock Holmes – tall, thin, narrow-faced and so on, and I couldn’t find anyone that looked the part. And then I remembered this man in Samuelson’s Birmingham office. He wasn’t an actor, but I was able to direct him all the time you see, because it was a silent film, and it worked very well. 

The film has not survived and only some prints at the British Film Institute provided clues. But he remained the mystery Holmes.

The article mentions that Holmes film expert Michael Pointer had spent years trying to identify the man but had given up. However, by the time Pointer published The Sherlock Holmes File in 1976, he had identified the man as James Bragington. And he was, as Pearson had said, an accountant at Samuelson’s Birmingham office, employed for one silent film and then sent back to his ledgers.

The film (which focused far more on the Utah scenes and Mormon story line than on London and Holmes) did well enough that Samuelson made The Valley of Fear in 1916. However, this time he used H. A. Saintsbury, arguably the greatest British stage Holmes of them all.


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