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When a woman receives a series of valuable pearls from an unknown party after the disappearance of her father, Sherlock Holmes is hired to investigate.



(novel), (dramatisation) | 2 more credits »


Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ann Bell ...
Paul Daneman ...
John Stratton ...
Ailsa Grahame ...
Howard Goorney ...
Grace Arnold ...
Ahmed Khalil ...
Lal Rao (as Ahmed Kahlil)
Syd Conabere ...
McMurdo (as Sydney Conabere)
Tony McLaren ...
Annabella Johnston ...
David Boliver ...
Mr. Mordecai Smith (as David S. Boliver)
Ann Way ...
Zena Keller ...


When she receives pearls beyond price and a mysterious message from an anonymous source, Miss Mary Morstan goes to the famous consulting detective of 221B Baker St., Mr. Sherlock Holmes for advice in how to answer the message. Together with his staunch comrade, Dr. John Watson, and a mutt named Toby, Holmes tracks down the secret of the Sign of Four. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Horror | Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

16 December 1968 (UK)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sherlock Holmes: [Last lines] Love is an emotional thing. I shall never marry, lest I bias my judgment.
Dr. Watson: I trust my judgement shall survive it. You are weary, Holmes. You don't ask much of life, do you?
Sherlock Holmes: Work, my dear Watson, a problem to solve is all I ask. I cannot live without brainwork. Give me the pleasure of finding a field for my own peculiar powers. Give me work. This is my reward. And I am content.
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Version of Sherlock Holmes Solves the Sign of the Four (1913) See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent adaptation with Jeremy Brett's marvelous performance as Holmes
16 June 2005 | by (California, USA) – See all my reviews

I have yet to see any performer outdo Jeremy Brett in the role of Sherlock Holmes. The stiff formality of "Elementary, My Dear Watson" is a symbol of Holmes that Brett utterly shatters. Rather, Brett's performance of Holmes is full of nervous energy and boyish excitement alternated by moments of silent absorption. Viwers expecting complacent arrogance should be pleasantly surprised by the humanity and vulnerability of Brett's portrayal. And, yet, his Holmes still has the focus, curiosity, tenacity, and ingenuity to demonstrate how Holmes became English Literature's archetype of cold logic and deduction.

As I recall, The Sign of Four is but one or two episodes in a series of series made of Sherlock Holmes stories by the BBC in the 1980's. I have seen many episodes from the various series and all have shown consistently high production values and strong acting performances. The actor Edward Hardwicke does a superb job as a Watson who's great admiration of Holmes's abilities and deeds is cut short of idolatry by an intimate understanding of the detective's weaknesses and flaws.

The Sign of Four is a solid crime thriller of the Victorian era and this performance does the story justice with colorful and memorable characters interacting in authentic and detailed environments. Conan-Doyle stores were what they were- action thrillers designed and paced for publication as a series of printed episodes. As such- there is more emphasis on excitement than literary quality and the plot is a bit compartmentalised and stretched in spots by suspense-building setbacks presumably meant to end an installment on a suspenseful note. Nevertheless, Doyle's skills as a storyteller (particularly in creating a mental image of the scenes where his stories take place) cannot be denied. Nevertheless, if one actively dislikes other manifestations of Sherlock Holmes one is not likely to like this one. Everyone should keep in mind that Thriller is a relative term, however- it's the Victorian era, after all.

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