I posted the screen shots weeks ago with the intention of filling in the story. Events intervened, so here is the story.
This is the 1983 movie based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s story The Sign of Four. It’s interesting to compare the movie, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, to the original story. I will do some of that. Details are from Wikipedia, which lists the principal players.
- Ian Richardson as Sherlock Holmes
- David Healy as Dr. John H. Watson
- Thorley Walters as Major John Sholto
- Cherie Lunghi as Mary Morstan
- Joe Melia as Jonathan Small
- Clive Merrison as Bartholomew Sholto
- Richard Heffer as Thaddeus Sholto
- Terence Rigby as Inspector Layton
- Michael O’Hagan as Mordecai Smith
- Robert Russell as Williams
The movie opens with Major Sholto receiving a mysterious message, tacked to the door of his upscale abode and brought to him at dinner by the butler. The original story begins with Watson observing as Holmes shoots up with cocaine, a notorious habit of his. Then the lovely Miss Morstan comes calling.
I had opened my mouth to reply to this tirade, when with a crisp knock our landlady entered, bearing a card upon the brass salver. “A young lady for you, sir,” she said, addressing my companion. “Miss Mary Morstan,” he read. “Hum! I have no recollection of the name. Ask the young lady to step up, Mrs. Hudson. Don’t go, doctor. I should prefer that you remain.”
Doyle, Arthur Conan; Books, Maplewood. Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection . Maplewood Books. Kindle Edition.
The message Major Sholto receives is shocking, almost fatally. It is something from his dark past, and he will never recover. See it below. It’s the diagram of a building in India where a vast treasure was hidden, and which Major Sholto stole, leaving others to rot in prison. This is a story of revenge.
The wooden-legged Jonathan Small spent years in prison in the Andaman Islands after giving up the location to Sholto and a Captain Morstan. Now Mr. Small intends to regain the stolen treasure and inflict some payback on Major Sholto.
Miss Morstan seeks help from Holmes to locate her father, who came to London and has not since been heard from.
The Sholto brothers discuss the strange message and the actions of their father.
Meanwhile, Small is assisted by an Andaman Islander named Tonga (John Pedrick), who helped him escape from the prison island. The two break into the Sholto house, seeking the treasure. Major Sholto dies (apparent of fright).
Miss Morstan is in possession of The Great Mogul, the second largest such diamond in existence. The stone features in the story, but it is mentioned only in Small’s recounting of discovering it when he and his compatriots stole the fortune in gems.
Holmes, Watson, and Miss Morstan pay a call on Thaddeus Sholto, who embraces Indian culture.
More encounters. Tonga kills Bartholomew with a poison dart, and Small takes the jewels. Only, the Mogul is missing. Small continues hie quest. Holmes and Watson investigate the murder of Bartholomew
They note the odd footprints of a small person (Tonga) and a man with a wooden leg (Small). Holmes hires a tracking dog, and Holmes and Watson set off to follow the suspects.
This leads them to a boat for hire place. Small has hired the boat for his escape. The boatman’s wife unloads a wad of detail when questioned expertly.
The boat is gone, so Holmes needs to track it down. He engages his band of street ruffians, called The Baker Street Irregulars. They begin to scour the shores of the Thames for the boat, which does not appear to be moored anywhere.
Of course, the boat is not moored. It’s in a repair yard for refitting.
Miss Morstan pays a call on Thaddeus about the time Small and Tonga come around. Tonga kills the footman with a poison dart, and Small threatens Thaddeus for the location of the Mogul. When Thaddeus discloses the Mogul was sold, Small kills him.
Miss Morstan flees to the farthest reaches of the house, pursued by Tonga with his blowpipe.
Holmes and Watson arrive to save Miss Morstan, and Small attempts his escape on the hired boat.
But Holmes has engaged a high-speed police cruiser to chase down the two miscreants. Tonga attempts to kill Watson with a poison dart, but Watson, (ex army doctor), is ready with his pistol, and that’s the end of the islander.
The jewels are nowhere to be found, but Holmes figures they are hidden in Small’s hollow leg.
The jewels go to the police, but Miss Morstan gets to keep the mogul.
All this time Miss Morstan and Dr. Watson have been eyeing each other. Now a marriage is planned.
In the original story the gems are never recovered (bottom of the Thames). After a brief mention, the Mogul never appears in the original.