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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2001
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SIGN OF FOUR was the 2nd of 2 films that Ian Richardson starred in as the Great Detective, after HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES. Once again, the production values, and Richardson's warm and impeccable performance carry this flick. Cheri Lunghi (Queen Guenevere in EXCALIBUR)is a winning and winsome damsel-in-distress and David Healy's Dr. Watson is a great improvement on his HOUND counterpart, being much more realistic in the role. Of course, there are a couple liberties taken with the original tale, and the culprits are revealed rather early in the film for my taste, but it doesn't get in the way of a solid and entertaining thriller. If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan, I would definitely recommend this film.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2000
the DVD is grainy, and the story does deviate from the text somewhat. The packaging is nicer than the one for the Richardson "Hound of the Baskervilles," but I would still say that the Granada version with Jeremy Brett is the better of the two.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2013
Possibly one of the best Sherlock Holmes stories, I have regrettably found that most film adaptations of this classic tale are usually missing some pivotal elements, making SIGN a novel that has never really translated well from page to screen. Yet aside from a few random deviations, this version not only closely approximates its Canon counterpart, but also makes a worthy attempt at delivering the action in addition to the deductive reasoning, and remarkably resembles the tale of adventure Doyle intended it to be. From the infamous scene with Watson's pocket watch to the delightful representation of an impish Holmes besting the official Inspector in the locked room investigation of Bartholomew Sholto's death, to the clever plot twist at the end, every aspect of this film was worthy of the original.

David Healy makes for a competent Watson, not particularly my favourite in the role, though he gives an admirable performance as a somewhat exasperated, intelligent man of action. I can actually see his being a rough sketch for David Burke's Watson - in that they tend to play up similar characteristics - and in fact much of the set and costumes were reminiscent of the detailed period accuracy portrayed by Granada. I will even go so far as saying it was perhaps a bit more authentic to the Victorian era, especially in regards to Baker Street. On the topic of comparisons to Granada, in my estimation, Ian Richardson is truly one of the scant few to ever rival (and dare I say, is at times better than) Jeremy Brett. Though occasionally limited by the script, he is phenomenal in the role. Richardson's Holmes is eerily faithful to the man Watson describes, not only with his mannerisms and the way in which he conveys Holmes' unique humour and temperament, but with his austere countenance, (dark) grey eyes - even his voice gave me the shivers, it was so compatible to that of the Sherlock Holmes in my mind. Needless to say, I was instantly impressed, and it was not long before I was utterly enamoured with his performance.

True, there was an occasional instance where I felt the plot would have benefited from sticking closer to the story, but these were more like minor nitpicks than anything that caused the storyline to suffer. This was fast moving, suspenseful and stood up very well to a second viewing the next day. It is one of the best Holmes movies I have yet to see (and that list is quite extensive). I am genuinely lamenting the fact a full series of feature length movies were not made with Richardson, so I will just have to settle for multiple re-watches...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
I Am A Real Sherlockian With A Considerable Sherlock Holmes Movie Collection , And One Of The Things I Really Like To Do Is Critique The Different Actors Portrayl Of Each Sherlock Holmes Mystery , Like Most I Grew Up Thinking Basil Rathbone Was Sherlock Holmes , until Jeremy Brett Was Cast As The Great Man , & I Had To Give Him The Nod , However I want To Tell You About Ian Richardson's Potrayal Of Holmes In "The Sign Of Four" ,Along Side Of David Healy As the Ever Vigilant Dr. Watson , Their Version Of The Sign Of Four Is The Best That I Have Seen! , It Takes A Few Liberties But Ian Richardson's Portrayal Of Holmes In This Movie Was A Joy To Watch!, He Was Enjoying Letting The Scotland Yard Inspector Go Off In The Wrong Direction & Mis-Read The Clues At Every Turn While He Laughed Behind His Back ,& Then Look Serious When The Inspector Turned Around To Face Him & Holmes Shook His head Up And Down & Said Yhea It Could Be! , It Was Serious At Times , it was Sad At Times & It Was Funny At Times , And Entertaining All The Time! , I Hated To See It End!, Ian Richardson added a whole new facet To Sherlock Holmes In This Movie! , And I have To Say , If You Miss It Your Missing Alot! , I Very Highly Recommend This Movie! BILL CROCE
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 15, 2008
"Another monograph?" says Dr. John Watson (David Healy), as he walks into the smoke-filled parlor at 221B Baker Street where he shares quarters with Mr. Sherlock Holmes (Ian Richardson). "Yes," says Holmes, adjusting a long row of burning cigars. "This is on the distinction between the ashes of the various tobaccos. So far, I have enumerated 93 forms of cigar, cigarette and pipe tobacco." This monograph, long thought lost, is now assumed to have been suppressed by the major tobacco companies in Britain and the United States.

With The Sign of Four we will encounter one of Holmes' most dangerous and resourceful villains in a story which features a one-legged man; a prison treasure map; a box of diamonds, emeralds and pearls; an Andaman native named Tonga with an appetite for raw meat; the second largest known diamond in the world, named The Great Mogul; the Baker Street Irregulars and enough bestial murder, greed and revenge to curdle the blood of the most innocent of young Victorian ladies.

The Sign of Four is the tale of the one-legged Jonathan Small and three other prisoners held in the British military prison on the Andaman Islands. They know where a fortune in jewels is buried there. Small's trust in Major John Sholto, the commander of the prison, is sadly misplaced. They help Sholto and Captain David Morstan locate the jewels on the promise that the fortune will be shared when they are released. However, Sholto takes the jewels back to London. When later Morstan arrives for his share, Sholto kills him. Sholto on his deathbed six years later tells his two sons of the treasure and insists that to wipe away Sholto's guilt. Captain Morstan's daughter must have Morstan's share. When one of the sons anonymously sends The Grand Mogul to Miss Mary Morstan (Cherie Lunghi), a trail of death and horror begins to work its way towards her in the person of the now-released Jonathan Small. With the animal-like Tonga by his side, with thick fog swirling through London's gas-lit streets, Small intends to have his vengeance...and all of the jewels. Only Sherlock Holmes, with Watson by his side, stands between Small and the frightened but brave and lovely Mary Morstan.

Executive producer Sy Weintraub arrived in Britain with the idea of making a series of made-for-TV feature length stories with Ian Richardson as Holmes. He managed only two, and it's our loss. This and the first film, Sherlock Holmes - The Hound of the Baskervilles, are given first-rate, exciting productions and good, tight scripts. A real pleasure in The Sign of Four is Holmes against a collection of side show freaks, including Holmes on a turning, ornate carousel trying to elude a poison-dart-puffing Tonga. Richardson is a fine and subtle actor who gives just a bit more warmth to Holmes than, say, Brett or Rathbone gave. I would be hard-pressed to say which I like best. Fortunately, it's possible to like all three.

"What a very attractive young woman," John Watson had said to Holmes as Miss Marston left their quarters after she met the two and pleaded for their help. He finds her so attractive that, in the fullness of time, she eventually will become Mrs. John Watson.

"Is she?" Holmes replied. "I didn't observe." We'll have to wait for Sherlock Holmes to encounter Miss Irene Adler for the next step in Holmes' personal development.

For fans of Sherlock Holmes, the two Richardson movies are well worth owning. The DVD itself doesn't meet current expectations of DVD sharpness, but it's easy to watch. There are no extras.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2013
Ian Richardson is close to the perfect Sherlock Holmes, but I discovered him first portraying Doyle's inspiration for Holmes, Dr. Bell, and then learned of his two theatrical roles as Holmes in THE SIGN OF FOUR, and the subsequent HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES.

Richardson's portrayal of this often filmed Holmes story is, at worst, better then most of those I've seen, and the slight changes in script from the standard FOUR efforts make it refreshing. Richardson as Holmes was an outstanding choice and I hope to see him again in the rolls of both Holmes (white haired or not) and Dr. Bell, mentor to the youthful doctor Arthur Doyle!

Get this Sign of Four while you can . . . it seems to disappear too often; and while you're doing so, pick up his version of Hound and both Bell offerings; you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2013
If you dont have this movie in you home sherlock holmes collection, it would be a nice addition. Not Jeremy Brett but still enjoyed it.
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on May 21, 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie. Ian Richardson plays Sherlock Holmes quite well. I own 3 versions of "The Sign of Four"; Jeremy Brett, Matt Frewer and this version which holds up pretty well compared to the other 2 versions. I was surprised at how good the quality was for something this old. This was worth every penny to replace an old VHS copy I have of the movie! I highly recommend this film for any fan of Sherlock Holmes movies and Stories!!!
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on September 14, 2015
One of the best Sherlock Holmes movies ever made! Captures the ambiance of a Holmes mystery and the acting is first rate. It doesn't try to reinvent Holmes (as some modern films have done), but it still maintains a unique feel to the interpretation of the character. Worth adding to your collection!
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on December 14, 2011
Of course the quality isn't amazing for this moving but that did not matter to me. I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan and thing this animated movie did an excellent job portraying the mystery. I only wish it was longer because I enjoyed it so much.
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