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Sherlock Holmes - The Sign of Four
Sherlock Holmes - The Sign of Four
Actors: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Rosalie Williams, Colin Jeavons, Denis Lill
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2003     2hr 0min

Sherlock Holmes is asked to solve the mysterious death of a young woman's father, and finds a fortune in jewels. Genre: Mystery Rating: NR Release Date: 25-FEB-2003 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Rosalie Williams, Colin Jeavons, Denis Lill
Creators: Tony Imi, John Hawkesworth, Rebecca Eaton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/25/2003
Original Release Date: 02/05/1987
Theatrical Release Date: 02/05/1987
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The incomparable Jeremy Brett
D. MCGOVERN | New Zealand | 12/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The late Jeremy Brett's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is so real, so vital, and so thoroughly mesmerizing that I can never imagine another actor playing the part. The man literally oozes charisma, and his aristocratic, finely chiselled looks perfectly match the Holmes I've always envisioned. Brett also captures the nuances that make Holmes such a memorable creation: the moodiness, the nervous bursts of energy, the unexpected moments of humour, and all his other maddening (but wonderful) eccentricities. Brett also has the perfect speaking voice for Holmes - a perfectly enunciated, slightly fruity, upper class Etonian accent. The death of Jeremy Brett in 1995 robbed us of Holmes' finest interpreter and a fascinating actor.Happily, however, Brett has left us with a large legacy of performances as the great detective. The British Granada television series, filmed between 1984 and 1994, is now available on video (and occasionally on DVD) and includes many stand-out episodes. The present video is one of several feature-length episodes filmed for the series, and was made in 1987. This was around the period in which Brett's health started to decline (he suffered from a combination of heart disease and depression), but personally I have always felt that he transcended the effects of his illness, and in some ways his performances as Holmes were even more compelling because of it. At times he would have to husband his vocal resources as breath control became a problem, but his portrayal remained compelling right up until the end. Here he looks fine for the most part, and if anything, his slightly red-rimmed eyes and sallow complexion suit the character of Holmes, who was hardly the picture of robust good health himself. Brett is ably supported by Edward Hardwicke as a sympathetic and intelligent Watson. This is the confidante whom Conan Doyle always envisioned, not the bumbling twit that one remembers from the Nigel Bruce caricature of the 1930s and 1940s.The rest of the cast is uniformly good, with John Thaw excellent as the nominal villain, Jonathan Small, and Ronald Lacey hilarious in the dual roles of the eccentric (and appallingly hair-styled!) Sholto brothers.As always in this ten-year series, the direction is top-notch, and the period atmosphere is beautifully evoked. There is also some clever use of shadow and mirrors that add a touch of class to the visual effects.With great performances and direction to match, why, then, have I not given this adaptation five stars? My reservations lie with the story itself. The Sign of Four lacks the suspense of say, The Hound of the Baskervilles or the darkly compelling Dying Detective. To be sure, it is a very interesting story with all the usual Conan Doyle flourishes (exotic background, eccentric personalities and a hint of romance), but it all comes to a conclusion much too soon with the anti-climactic narrative from Jonathan Small that occupies the last ten minutes or so of the episode. Nevertheless, there is still much to enjoy along the way in this witty evocation of Doyle's novel. In short, I recommend this episode with the proviso that dedicated Sherlockians also check out many of the other programmes in the series."
Some miss the point
kentuckyreader | Louisville, Kentucky USA | 10/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a teriffic movie, and I find it intriguing that people who claim to have read the book rate this so poorly. Strangely, they complain that Jeremy Brett's illness partly ruins his performance as Holmes. Anyone who has read the original canon knows that illness and Holmes went hand in hand: even though Watson describes him as having an "iron constitution," the man was frequently sick from overwork, drug and tobacco abuse, lack of sleep, and simply from not eating. Brett's illness actually works well with the series - almost as if his real life was mirroring that of the fictional detective - with one exception: Brett gained weight whereas Holmes, when ill, became very, very thin.This iteration of Sign of Four is a beautifully crafted piece. The period detail can still alarm me with its quality, even after repeated viewings. Viewers are absolutely immersed in the Baker Street of the late Victorian period.The scenes of Sherlock's physical investigation of crime scenes are well rendered, faithfully presented the "real" Holmes in action, as described by Doyle. We even get to hear some of Sherlock's more quotable aphorisms which seem to be lifted from the actual text. Also, we see a bit of the detective's less pleasant social habits and misogyny - a bit of his darker side.The only thing that makes this interpretation of the book suffer is that it is **TOO** faithful to the original work. The long passage near the end of Johnathan Small's monologue has always dragged this story a bit and makes screen representations difficult. It's not that the film interpreted it poorly - it's that this passage simply violates the traditional climactic structure of a standard two hour film. This was typical of the Holmes novels, where Sherlock would be "off-screen" for long periods."
Beautiful adaptation
shirlcapes2 | 06/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This may be my favourite of the magnificent Granada series starring Jeremy Brett, most of which I love; it's definitely the best of the two-hour versions. Watson doesn't get the girl, but the sentimental look on his face when he comments "What a very attractive woman!" at the end is a nice touch, considering that marriage for Watson wasn't really an option in a TV series. Jeremy Brett is brilliant as always; I love the way he speaks to Toby, the dog, and the expression on his face as he comments "It was I who opened it" to the weird Athelney Jones. The chase down the Thames is classic. Holmes is possibly a bit more arrogant and inconsiderate in this adaptation than he was in the book, but Brett was able to do that; sometimes his Holmes shows unexpected flashes of compassion, sometimes he's wonderfully intolerable! This is a good introduction to the series, though one of the shorter classics like "The Red-Headed League" or "The Second Stain" might be even better to whet the appetite."
kennedy19 | wakefield, ma USA | 04/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"What a treat! This two-hour film for television gives us even more fun than the many fine one-hour Holmes mysteries that Granada television made with Jeremy Brett. There is a delicious air of the bizarre that hangs over this tale, in which a young woman seeks Holmes' help to discover who has been sending her valuable pearls in the mail since the disappearance of her father. Throughout, we are treated to an almost Dickensian cast of odd characters, including a slightly incompetent police inspector, a wooden-legged sailor, a hookah-smoking fop, a keen-nosed dog, and the beloved Baker Street Irregulars (street boys who act as Holmes' eyes and ears.) Filmed with panache and period detail, this version sweeps us away in the adventure and remains overall quite true to the Conan Doyle novel upon which it is based. (True, in the novel Watson ends up marrying the client, but this film does not rule out the possibility.)Brett is brilliant as Holmes, whose powers of deduction (and disguise) are razor sharp."