The Sign of Four Movie Playlist contains 4 full-length movies made from 1932 to 1988 that are free to watch. Sherlock Holmes was played by Arthur Wontner, Peter Cushing, Ian Richardson, and Jeremy Brett respectively.
Each film adapted the novel in different ways. The 1988 Granada TV series with Jeremy Brett is probably the most faithful to the original novel followed by the ones with Ian Richardson and Peter Cushing. The 1932 Arthur Wontner’s version is the least faithful with significant changes to the characters.
Tonga was very badly done in all the versions, IMO. It is not unexpected since the original story was written in a time period where knowledge of the Far East was spotty.
1988 – The Sign of Four – Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
I really enjoyed this movie. Mary Marston, portrayed by Jenny Seagrove, was pretty and elegant. Just as I imagined Mary to be. I didn’t know that Jonathan Small was portrayed by John Thaw. So different from his Inspector Morse series.
1983 – The Sign of Four – Ian Richardson as Sherlock Holmes
The quality and sound of the Youtube videos are not great. Parts are repeated and incomplete. How unfortunate. There is a much better version at Amazon Prime – Sherlock Holmes – The Sign of Four (affiliate link).
The portrayal of Mary Marston was unconvincing. She doesn’t look like someone who had to look after herself for 10 years since her father went missing.
1968 – The Sign of Four – Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes
The pace of this version is much faster. I know Peter Cushing was unhappy with the tight shooting schedule. I agree with him. It does show up in production.
1932 – The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes Greatest Case – Arthur Wontner as Sherlock Holmes
I wonder why the poster of this Youtube video used Basil Rathbone’s picture as the thumbnail. It is misleading. This is a very old movie so the usual noise of the old black and white film reel is quite obvious.
Jonathan Small was portrayed as a gangster here, an American gangster. How odd.
Comparison of the Adaptations
I found a Youtube video comparing the three latest adaptations. Similar sections of the films are presented side by side. Finally, I get to see more of Richardson’s version.