Watch The Sign of Four
- 1 hr 15 min
The Sign of Four, released in 1932, is a British crime/mystery film directed by Graham Cutts and starring Arthur Wontner, Isla Bevan, and Ian Hunter. The film is based on the second novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring detective Sherlock Holmes, and follows Holmes and his trusted companion Dr. John Watson as they investigate a baffling case involving a stolen treasure, a revengeful convict, and a beautiful young woman.
The film opens with a prologue introducing the case, as we see young Mary Morstan (played by Isla Bevan) receiving a mysterious note advising her to meet a stranger who claims to have information regarding her missing father, who disappeared years ago under mysterious circumstances. Mary meets the stranger, Thaddeus Sholto, who tells her that her father was murdered by his own partner, Jonathan Small, in order to steal a valuable treasure they had discovered during their military service in India. Sholto himself is found murdered shortly after their meeting, and Holmes (played by Arthur Wontner) is called upon to solve the case.
With the help of Watson (played by Ian Hunter), Holmes quickly pieces together the clues and determines that the key to solving the case lies in the missing treasure, which Sholto had inherited from his father. The treasure is said to contain not only jewels and gold but also precious jewels, including the valuable Agra diamond, which was stolen years ago from a prince in India. The missing diamond is believed to be in the possession of Small, who has been traced to a tramp steamer heading for England.
Holmes and Watson embark on a thrilling adventure to track down Small and recover the treasure, which takes them to a brothel, a warehouse, and a lighthouse. Along the way, they encounter a gang of criminals known as the Four, who are also after the treasure and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it. Holmes must use all his powers of deduction and skilful deduction to stay one step ahead of the Four and solve the case before it's too late.
The film also features a romantic subplot, as Holmes finds himself increasingly drawn to Mary Morstan, who is caught in the middle of the danger and intrigue. The chemistry between Wontner and Bevan is palpable, and their scenes together add an extra layer of emotional depth to the film.
Overall, The Sign of Four is a well-crafted and entertaining adaptation of Conan Doyle's classic novel. Wontner is excellent as Holmes, capturing the character's intelligence, wit, and eccentricities with skill and charm. Hunter is equally good as Watson, providing solid support to Holmes and adding humour to the proceedings. The supporting cast is also strong, particularly Graham Soutten as the sinister Small and Herbert Lomas as the gruff and shrewd Inspector Lestrade.
The film is expertly directed by Cutts, who uses shadow, light, and composition to create a moody and atmospheric look that perfectly captures the tone of Conan Doyle's writing. The pacing is brisk, with the action and suspense building steadily towards a satisfying climax. The film also benefits from a well-written screenplay by W.P. Lipscomb, which expertly balances the mystery, thriller, and romance elements of the story.
In conclusion, The Sign of Four is a must-see for fans of Sherlock Holmes and classic British cinema. It's a thrilling and engaging adaptation that honours the source material while also standing on its own as a great film. Wontner, Hunter, and the rest of the talented cast and crew have created a timeless and memorable portrayal of one of literature's greatest detectives, and their efforts are sure to delight audiences for generations to come.