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The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case (1932)

Unrated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 14 August 1932 (USA)
A young woman turns to Sherlock Holmes for protection when she's menaced by an escaped killer seeking missing treasure. However, when the woman is kidnapped, Holmes and Watson must penetrate the city's criminal underworld to find her.

Director:

Graham Cutts

Writers:

Arthur Conan Doyle (adapted from the story by) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), W.P. Lipscomb (screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Arthur Wontner ... Sherlock Holmes
Isla Bevan ... Mary Morstan
Ian Hunter ... Dr. Watson
Graham Soutten Graham Soutten ... Jonathan Small
Miles Malleson ... Thaddeus Sholto
Herbert Lomas Herbert Lomas ... Major Sholto
Gilbert Davis Gilbert Davis ... Atherly Jones
Margaret Yarde Margaret Yarde ... Mrs. Smith
Roy Emerton Roy Emerton ... The Tattooed Man
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Storyline

A young woman turns to Sherlock Holmes for protection when she's menaced by an escaped killer seeking missing treasure. However, when the woman is kidnapped, Holmes and Watson must penetrate the city's criminal underworld to find her.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 August 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Zeichen der 4 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Roy Emerton. See more »

Goofs

In the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes's residence and consulting room were located at 221B Baker Street in London. However, an early establishing shot in the film shows Holmes's address to be 22A Baker Street. See more »

Quotes

Sherlock Holmes: An amateur investigator like myself can't have too many facts of a case to work on.
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Connections

Featured in The Real Sherlock Holmes (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Despite a lousy print, I really appreciated and enjoyed this film
30 March 2008 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I've read all the stories and up until the Jeremy Brett series was created, I always felt that those who created the Holmes films had a lot of contempt for the original material. The modern image of is simply NOT the Holmes created by Conan Doyle. While this film starring Arthur Wontner did have Holmes uttering the "elementary" phrase again and again and that pipe was also present, this was about as close to the Conan Doyle you could find until the 1980s. Most casual viewers don't realize that up until Granada Television made the films with Brett, the Sherlock Holmes being portrayed in films was more an imitation of William Gillette than Holmes. Gillette had made a career of playing Holmes on stage and in silent films and he liberally changed the character to make it his own--not Conan Doyle's.

While far from perfect, this low budget Sherlock Holmes film at least tried more than most subsequent films--being much closer to the source material than the Basil Rathbone films or even the later Wontner films (SILVER BLAZE was a bit of a mess). I especially like how that accursed deerstalker hat (with the double bill) isn't worn by Holmes like it was in most other films (but not in most of the original stories) and how Lestrade and Moriarty aren't present (they were only in a small number or stories). Those who read SIGN OF THE FOUR would recognize the original story--the same can't be said of Wontner's SILVER BLAZE.

The only serious negative about the film is its quality due to the ravages of time. Being in the public domain, it has been copied and re-copied again and again and by now it's a bit of a struggle to watch and the print is a tad fuzzy. However, being slightly hard of hearing and an American, I was STILL able to follow it reasonably well, so it's likely the film will be very watchable for you.


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