THE SIGN OF FOUR

(1932)
With Arthur Wontner, Ian Hunter, Isla Bevan, Graham Soutten, Miles Malleson
Directed by Graham Cutts
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     A marked improvement over 1931's SHERLOCK HOLMES' FATAL HOUR (I can't compare it to the second film THE MISSING REMBRANDT, which itself is missing), THE SIGN OF FOUR is a relatively fatihful adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's second Holmes novel and once again features Arthur Wontner as the world's greatest amateur detective.  Except for an overlong introductory sertup, director Graham Cutts keeps things moving at a good pace and makes good use of overhead shots to create an off-centered atmosphere.  Wontner, who was good in FATAL HOUR, is just about perfect here, creating a Holmes that loves to take the mickey out of the clueless Inspector Jones and shows an equal amount of affection and annoyance at his friend Dr. Watson, this time played by Ian Hunter.

    The biggest problem with THE SIGN OF FOUR is that the writers give most of the mystery away before Holmes even enters the film, so instead of us playing catch-up with Holmes as he investigates a case, he is playing catch-up with us.  It keeps the film from being as good as it could be, but Wontner's performance and Cutts's direction still make it a solid and entertaining Sherlock Holmes film.  2½ - JB 


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It was the Arthur Wontner films, not Doyle's stories, that came up with this famous catchphrase:

"Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary."  

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