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Sherlock Holmes Sign of Four [DVD] [1932] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Region 1 encoding. (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details) Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.

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Product details

  • Actors: Arthur Wontner, Isla Bevan, Ian Hunter, Graham Soutten, Miles Malleson
  • Directors: Graham Cutts
  • Writers: Arthur Conan Doyle, W.P. Lipscomb
  • Producers: Basil Dean
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Alpha Video
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Jun 2003
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000098ZSG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,230 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 April 2008
Format: DVD
"Clue...you know wots 'clue' is, doncha?" says hardened criminal Jonathan Small to his dim but strong accomplice. Small doesn't want any left behind during his quest for revenge and riches.

"Yeah...somethin' you sticks paper together with."

Years earlier Small had cut a deal with two British Army officers in an Andaman Islands prison. He'd share a treasure map with the two officers that marked the location of a rajah's ransom worth of sparklers and pearls in exchange for a four-way split and freedom for himself and his accomplice. He even marked the map with four crosses, the sign of four, to seal the deal. He was briskly betrayed. The officers took the map, found the jewels...and then one of the officers killed the other to keep everything for himself. And now that officer, rich and aged, dies of fright in his London mansion when he learns there has been an escape from a prison in the Andaman islands...two men, and one is named Small. But before he died and in an act of conscience he instructed his two sons to deliver to a Miss Mary Morstan, the daughter of the man he killed so long ago, the priceless pearl necklace that was in the treasure chest. With Small on the track to find the treasure and wreak his revenge, it's not long before Miss Morstan is pleading for help in the sitting room of The Great Detective himself. It is apparent that the case in intriguing, just as it's apparent that The Great Detective's good friend, Dr. John Watson, is smitten with Miss Morstan.

"I don't want to interrupt the violent flutterings of your heart," says Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Wontner) to Watson (Ian Hunter), "but perhaps you'd be interested to know that never in my career have I encountered a more intricate case." Or, perhaps, a more diabolical one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Dec 2007
Format: DVD
The best of Arthur Wontner's Sherlock Holmes films, much of the credit for The Sign of Four is due to Graham Cutts' strong direction and some imaginative cinematography by William Luff and Alan Smith making much atmospheric use of overhead tracking shots. Ian Hunter's Watson is something of a liability, though: closer to Doyle's original vision of the character, he overdoes the interest in the opposite sex something rotten, turning into a virtual walking erection every time the leading lady appears, lasciviously rubbing his hands when he sits near her like a drooling melodrama villain. Amazingly, this technique actually works, as the foolish girl ends up marrying him. Perhaps she didn't get out much. Maybe I should try out the Watson technique myself...

One curious note is the villain's decision to disguise his henchman Roy Emerton by covering him in tattoos - not much use when he wears a suit for the rest of the film. Sadly the public domain DVD takes a bit of effort: although decent prints do exist in the UK TV, every expense has been spared for this Region 1 NTSC DVD release, so don't be surprised if you have to rewind to catch the odd line of dialogue thanks to a noisy soundtrack.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
old and lousy print, but it's the best available thus far 24 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This isn't the best quality print, but Wonter is a damn fine Holmes. Perhaps ths will be restored one day. Maybe it's not possible. It's an old print with quite some static, but Wonter is a five star actor.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Really not too bad. 16 April 2005
By David L. Schoon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I watched this as part of the 50 movie mystery pack. The quality was pretty awfull, but the movie is from 1932, and you probably aren't going to get any better. Wontner is great as Holmes. The story is more or less based on the Sign of Four, but if you haven't read the original, you will have a tough time trying to figure out the beginning of the movie, since the story has been compressed to the point that it's almost impossible to figure out. Once things get going and the hissing sound can be ignored, it's pretty good, although not completly faithfull. Enjoyable as a whole. Get the 50 movie pack.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Wontner's finest Holmes film - but a terrible DVD transfer 30 Dec 2007
By Trevor Willsmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The best of Arthur Wontner's Sherlock Holmes films, much of the credit for The Sign of Four is due to Graham Cutts' strong direction and some imaginative cinematography by William Luff and Alan Smith making much atmospheric use of overhead tracking shots. Ian Hunter's Watson is something of a liability, though: closer to Doyle's original vision of the character, he overdoes the interest in the opposite sex something rotten, turning into a virtual walking erection every time the leading lady appears, lasciviously rubbing his hands when he sits near her like a drooling melodrama villain. Amazingly, this technique actually works, as the foolish girl ends up marrying him. Perhaps she didn't get out much. Maybe I should try out the Watson technique myself...

One curious note is the villain's decision to disguise his henchman Roy Emerton by covering him in tattoos - not much use when he wears a suit for the rest of the film. Sadly the public domain DVD takes a bit of effort: although decent prints do exist on UK TV, every expense has been spared for this Region 1 NTSC DVD release, so don't be surprised if you have to rewind to catch the odd line of dialogue thanks to a noisy soundtrack.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An execrable DVD transfer but a fine film featuring The Great Detective, plus poison darts and a lethal wooden leg 3 April 2008
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
"Clue...you know wots 'clue' is, doncha?" says hardened criminal Jonathan Small to his dim but strong accomplice. Small doesn't want any left behind during his quest for revenge and riches.

"Yeah...somethin' you sticks paper together with."

Years earlier Small had cut a deal with two British Army officers in an Andaman Islands prison. He'd share a treasure map with the two officers that marked the location of a rajah's ransom worth of sparklers and pearls in exchange for a four-way split and freedom for himself and his accomplice. He even marked the map with four crosses, the sign of four, to seal the deal. He was briskly betrayed. The officers took the map, found the jewels...and then one of the officers killed the other to keep everything for himself. And now that officer, rich and aged, dies of fright in his London mansion when he learns there has been an escape from a prison in the Andaman islands...two men, and one is named Small. But before he died and in an act of conscience he instructed his two sons to deliver to a Miss Mary Morstan, the daughter of the man he killed so long ago, the priceless pearl necklace that was in the treasure chest. With Small on the track to find the treasure and wreak his revenge, it's not long before Miss Morstan is pleading for help in the sitting room of The Great Detective himself. It is apparent that the case is intriguing, just as it's apparent that The Great Detective's good friend, Dr. John Watson, is smitten with Miss Morstan.

"I don't want to interrupt the violent flutterings of your heart," says Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Wontner) to Watson (Ian Hunter), "but perhaps you'd be interested to know that never in my career have I encountered a more intricate case." Or, perhaps, a more diabolical one. Jonathan Small is a one-legged brute who can kill with his wooden foot. He's an escaped prisoner, a murderer, shrewd and violent, skilled with a tattoo needle and sometimes called "the Professor." His associate, the convict Small took with him when Small escaped, is a dim-bulbed hulk, tattooed from neck to ankle and now called The Human Picture Gallery, who deals with problems by beating them or dragging a straight razor across the throat. And if you're frightened of nasty death by alkaloid poison smeared on the tip of a blowgun dart, try to avoid Tonga, a small Andaman native who is as adept at puffing out oblivion as he is keeping his boa constrictor warm. Holmes prevails, of course, but not before we've spent time in a dangerous sideshow, witnessed the kidnapping of Mary Morstan, and experienced a violent and deadly fight in a great, dark warehouse on the banks of the Thames. In this fight, fists, poison darts and lethal legs all come into play.

The movie is well paced, well acted and with a clever script. The use of overhead shots at dramatic moments is effective. So is the use of clever humor. The plot even bears some resemblance to the original story as it was written by Watson in 1890, using the name of his literary agent, Conan Doyle. In those days being seen as a popular author could damage a respectable medical doctor's reputation. Doyle understood this and was agreeable to the subterfuge when Watson suggested it. To this day, unfortunately, many people still believe that Doyle was the true author of the Holmes stories.

Arthur Wontner starred as Sherlock Holmes in five movies made between 1931 and 1937. He was in his late fifties at the time but is lean and commanding, with a great Holmes profile. Wontner was a good actor and holds his own in the company Brett, Rathbone and the others. It's also satisfying to see that Ian Hunter plays Watson as a reasonably intelligent man and a good friend, not simply a buffoon or foil for Holmes.

The movie is in execrable DVD condition
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Wonter is amazing! 14 April 2006
By classics collector - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
I've recently discovered Arthur Wonter as Sherlock Holmes thanks to DVDs such as this one. Some of these old movies are in rough shape. Im just happy they exist. Wonter is superb. All of his Holmes films are well worth purchasing. GREAT STUFF!
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