Can you help solve a Sherlock Holmes mystery?

George Pearson’s 1914 production of A Study in Scarlet was the first film to feature Sherlock Holmes – but it hasn’t been seen in generations. Now, the Museum of London and the BFI are hoping the public can help track it down, in time for the museum’s forthcoming exhibition on the much-loved detective

A scene from A Study in Scarlet (1914) directed George Pearson. © BFI National Archive

George Pearson’s 1914 production of A Study in Scarlet was the first film to feature Sherlock Holmes – but it hasn’t been seen in generations. Now, the Museum of London and the BFI are hoping the public can help track it down, in time for the museum’s forthcoming exhibition on the much-loved detective…

Earlier this year another of Pearson’s films, Love, Life and Laughter (1923) was rediscovered by EYE, the Dutch film archive. The director’s A Study in Scarlet was the first film Pearson made for the Samuelson Manufacturing Company – it even featured one of the firm’s employees, James Bragington, who, while not a professional actor, certainly looked every bit the part (below).

The silent film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story concerns a fictional murder which takes place on Brigham Young’s trek across America with his Mormon followers. According to the Museum of London, the film was shot at Worton Hall studios and on location at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and Southport Sands in Merseyside, which stood in for the Rocky Mountains and the Utah plains.

It is currently one of the oldest films on the BFI’s 75 Most Wanted list.

James Bragington as Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet (1914) directed George Pearson. © BFI National Archive

A scene and on-set photograph from A Study in Scarlet (1914) directed George Pearson. © BFI National Archive

“Every archivist dreams of finding lost films,” says Bryony Dixon, curator of Silent Film at the BFI National Archive.

“But this is a film of great importance. Sherlock Holmes is internationally renowned as a great detective. It would be wonderfully appropriate if a super-sleuth could help us celebrate the centenary of this film with a chance to see it.”

If any CR blog readers have information on the missing film, please contact sherlockholmes@bfi.org.uk or use the hashtag #FindSherlock on Twitter.

Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die opens on October 17 at the Museum of London and runs until April 12 2015. More at museumoflondon.org.uk.

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