The Sign of Four (1932)

Article #1407 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-20-2005
Posting Date: 2-19-2005
Directed by Graham Cutts and Rowland V. Lee
Featuring Arthur Wontner, Isla Bevan, Ian Hunter

Sherlock Holmes must protect a woman from a murderous one-legged man.

As enjoyable as the Rathbone Holmes movies are, they weren’t the be-all and end-all of Holmesian cinema. There’s plenty of room for movies like this one, a fairly faithful take on the classic Doyle novel. It takes quite a while before Holmes actually appears on the scene, but the backstory that makes up the first third of this movie is interesting enough to hold the attention. Wontner does an excellent job as Holmes, capturing both his intelligence and his wit. His conversations with Watson reveal the former, while the latter is wonderfully shown in his scenes with a smug but dim-witted Scotland Yard detective. It’s a bit on the creaky side, the primitive sound and the accents render some of the dialogue unintelligible, and the fight scenes are unfortunately shot in fast motion, but this is a very satisfying Holmes adaptation.


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