The Sign of Four (1983)

Article 4062 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-24-2012
Directed by Desmond Davis
Featuring Ian Richardson, David Healy, Thorley Walters
Country: UK
What it is: Sherlock Holmes adaptation

When a beautiful woman receives a mysterious and rare diamond with a note that she has been wronged, she hires Sherlock Holmes to help unravel the mystery, which eventually leads to a long history of murder and betrayal.

The biggest mistake this adaptation of the second of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels makes is apparent right off the bat; rather than revealing the backstory as Holmes unravels the clues, we are given a sizable portion of it in the opening scenes; in other words, the “mystery” portion of this mystery is undercut. Nevertheless, I quite like this movie; the performances are solid, the atmosphere is quite strong, and it’s mostly rather faithful to the original story, with a scene involving a carnival being the primary exception. Also, because of the way it chooses to tell the story, we actual have the horror content upped somewhat, as we see a lot more of the cannibalistic pygmy character than we would otherwise. At any rate, this is a nice change of pace from all of the silent shorts I’ve been watching lately.


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