Another case for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective. Holmes (Jeremy Brett) and Watson (David Burk) are intrigued by the case of Mary Morstan (Jenny Seagrove), whose father disappeared ten years previously. Every year since, Mary has received a pearl from a mystery benefactor, and she now requires the Baker Street detective to act as her escort in a meeting with the unknown patron. Matters are complicated when a murder takes place and Holmes engages the assistance of the Baker Street irregulars in tracking down the killer.
The Sign of Four
is a 1987 feature-length version of Conan Doyle's second Sherlock Holmes novel, and is faithful to the original story except in one important detail: Dr Watson (Edward Hardwicke) does not get the girl. Otherwise, the familiar tale of the death of Bartholomew Sholto and the theft of the Agra treasure is all here, featuring a snappy performance by Jeremy Brett as Holmes doing some of the finest investigative work of his career. The famous climax, a chase on the Thames in which Holmes is almost struck dead by an exotic weapon, is handled very well. Sherlockians may have a hard time not seeing Watson's romantic pursuit of Mary Morstan (Lila Kaye), his first wife according to Doyle's book, but it would hardly have been practical in the context of the long-running Granada Television series. The rest is to be enjoyed, however. --Tom Keogh