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The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case (1932)

 -  Crime | Drama | Mystery  -  14 August 1932 (USA)
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A young woman turns to Sherlock Holmes for protection when she's menaced by an escaped killer seeking missing treasure. However, when the woman is kidnapped, Holmes and Watson must penetrate the city's criminal underworld to find her.



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Complete credited cast:
Arthur Wontner ...
Isla Bevan ...
Ian Hunter ...
Graham Soutten ...
Miles Malleson ...
Herbert Lomas ...
Gilbert Davis ...
Margaret Yarde ...
Mrs. Smith
Roy Emerton ...
The Tattooed Man


A young woman turns to Sherlock Holmes for protection when she's menaced by an escaped killer seeking missing treasure. However, when the woman is kidnapped, Holmes and Watson must penetrate the city's criminal underworld to find her.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 August 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Zeichen der 4  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film debut of Roy Emerton. See more »


In the original Sherlock Holmes stories, Holmes's residence and consulting room were located at 221B Baker Street in London. However, an early establishing shot in the film shows Holmes's address to be 22A Baker Street. See more »


Jonathan Small: Listen to me! How many times do I gotta knock it into your block that when you done something the law says you shouldn't, don't start changing the new places. It's then that you get spotted!
See more »


Referenced in The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

For John's Sakes!
2 December 2005 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

(Some Spoilers) Feeling guilty and having an attack of the shakes with the knowledge of one-legged master criminal Johathan Small,Graham Sutten, breaking out of prison old and infirmed. Major john Sholto,Herbert Lomas, calls his two sons Thaddeus and Bartholomew, Miles Malleson & Kynaston Reeves, into his study and tells them a story about his dark past that he kept from them all these years.

The Major is a both thief and murderer who killed his fellow British officer Captain Monstan, Edger Norfolk, back in India when they discover a buried treasure chest of jewels and pearls in an empty and abandoned ancient castle.

Given instructions to the buried treasure by interned British solider Small Major Sholto not only murdered his partner Captain Monstan but left Small out in the cold and behind bars, whom he promised to left go free, taking all the loot for himself. Now feeling that the end is near and wanting to clear his conscience Major Sholto instructs his sons to return the treasure to the deceased Captain Monsta's daughter Mary, Isla Beuan. A florist in London's Weat End district. The end comes sooner then Major Sholto thought when Small pops up in his window which causes him to suddenly die of a heart attack.

Small getting together with a gang of weirdos that he recruited out of the local circus the Tattoed and Tonga the Snake Man, Roy Emerton & Toga, plan to get Major Sholto's treasure by first finding out when he hid it from his sons Thaddeus & Bartholomew. Then get Mary to give him the pearl necklace that the deceased major mailed to her just before he died.

After a close call from The Tattoed Man, who came to her store to buy flowers, Mary goes to private detective Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Wontner, for help and protection which she gets but also falls in love with his friend and assistant the dashing and dynamic Dr. Watson,Ian Hunter, as an extra bonus.

Early Sherlock Holmes movie with a witty and super observant Holmes, the guy can tell if someone is missing a limb or not just by studying his handwriting, using both his brains and his boxing skills, Sherlock throws a really wicked left hook, to solve the case and save the girl from a bunch of murderous villains.

The Small gang take out brother Bartholomew with a blow gun, curiosity of the Snake Man Tonga, after getting the information from him where the treasure was hidden by his late dad Major John Sholto. But Small is still not satisfied and wants the pearl necklace that's with Mary who's being protected by Sherlock Holmes and the London PD.

Kidnapping Mary the trio of criminals, Small The Tattoed and Snake Man, make it to the London docks. There together with their contact to get them out of the country warehouse and speedboat driver Mordecai Smith, Moor Marriott,race up and down down the Thames ending in a free for all at Smith's warehouse. With the one-legged Small disappearing under the waves. In the end Shurlock Holmes as usual ends up solving the case and getting his man, or men, but it's the usually bumbling and fumbling Dr. Watson who end up getting the girl.

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