This 1983 version of a Sherlock Holmes tale is helmed by Ian Richardson (BBC’s House of Cards) as the gumshoe. This iteration was part of an aborted six film deal between Sy Weintraub (Tarzan director) and Otto Plaschkes (The Homecoming, Hopscotch), and preceded the ITV Sherlock Holmes series.
The Sign of Four looks good, both in terms of the set design, the costumery, and the TLC given the original print by BFS. Despite being filmed in the early eighties, The Sign of Four does not seem dated. Perhaps being set in the time of Sherlock Holmes ameliorated any tendency to be dated, but I contend that this production is much better than even the aforementioned ITV series. Onto the actual story, though; The Sign of Four focuses on the recovery of a tremendous haul of jewels and the determination of who killed Thaddeus Sholto. Ian Richardson’s Holmes is one of the best characterizations that I have seen, and eir interplay with David Healy (Joe 90, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)) as Dr. Watson walks the line between friendship, contempt, drama, and humor.
BFS’s release of The Sign of Four is sharp visually and audibly, with the print being incredibly sharp for its age. Touching upon theft, deceit, murder, and a beautiful woman, this story also is perfect for anyone that likes a good mystery romp. As a Sherlock Holmes story, I feel that it is perfect for anyone that is either extremely familiar with the series or those that have not had the opportunity to read or watch any other Sherlock Holmes adventure. BFS provides a perfect jumping-off point, allowing viewers to either go earlier or later in regards to Sherlock Holmes adaptations. If The Sign of Four seems a little dated, look for something from the nineties, oughts, or today. If it takes too many liberties, dig up a Sherlock Holmes telenovel from the seventies or before.
The Sign of Four (DVD) / 2011 BFS Entertainment / 97 Minutes / http://www.bfsent.com