8.2/10
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The Sign of Four (1987)

The disappearance of a young woman's father and a mysterious note years later after the strange regular annual delivery of valuable pearls to her puts Sherlock Holmes on the case.

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(by) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), (dramatised by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Robin Hunter ...
Major Sholto
...
McMurdo
...
Jonathan Small
...
Tonga
...
Miss Mary Morstan
...
Mrs Hudson
Derek Deadman ...
Williams
...
Thaddeus & Bartholomew Sholto
Ishaq Bux ...
Lal Chowder
Terence Skelton ...
Captain Morstan
Marjorie Sudell ...
Mrs Bernstone
Emrys James ...
Inspector Athelney Jones
Gordon Gostelow ...
Sherman
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Storyline

A young lady, Miss Mary Morstan, contact Sherlock Holmes for his help regarding her father, captain Morstan, who disappeared 10 years ago. Since his disappearance she annually receives a valuable pearl by post from an unknown person. The mystery leads Holmes and doctor Watson into an intricate plot regarding a lost treasure belonging to four convicts on the Andaman Islands. Written by Mattias Thuresson

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Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

27 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Athelney Jones makes his second appearance in a Granada Holmes episode, following "The Red-Headed League" --although he was played by a different actor in that episode. See more »

Goofs

Down at the quayside the dog leads Holmes to some barrels which he says are full of creosote. However when the dog jumps off one of the barrels, it rocks back and forth, showing it to be empty. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. John Watson: Very pretty young woman crossing the street. And I think she may be coming here.
Sherlock Holmes: Incidentally, I have glanced over your latest account of my work.
Dr. John Watson: Oh, yes?
Sherlock Holmes: Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science. Observation, deduction, a cold unemotional subject. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism which has much the same effect as if you'd worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.
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Connections

Version of The Sign of Four (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

faithful, but....
27 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is an extremely faithful adaptation of the original Doyle novel, and for purists, it can hardly be objected to (although the novel does start and end with Holmes' drug usage -- but is clearly eliminated in this adaptation, apparently by Jeremy Brett who thoroughly objected to that aspect of Doyle's character). As for the uninitiated, or general viewer, it's a bit of a slog. Brett is snappish and somewhat rude at times, unlike the Holmes of the stories, but otherwise excellent, with a gritty baritone that is quite commanding. Ronald Lacey almost steals the show as the Sholto brothers (and it's sad that he would die only a few years later). The real problem with this film is the slack editing and low key direction. Many scenes provide opportunity for dramatic punch but are handled matter-of-factly, with no help from an equally low-key music score. Also, the series of requisite backstories presented in the novel is too much for the film, getting to a point where we're even given a flashback-within-a-flashback. And to top it off, the climax of the story is yet another backstory flashback. It IS Doyle and it IS faithful, so you can't complain that the filmmakers took liberties and fouled things up... but the weakness of the novel as film material is also exposed. Purists though, should be delighted.


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