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Today's movies often leave us rooting for bad guys who've been shaped into heroes. So, if you're yearning for an old-fashioned film where villains are villains and the good guys always get their man, try Hallmark's The Sign Of Four, featuring the reliable Sherlock Holmes (Matt Frewer) and his dependable assistant Dr. Watson (Kenneth Welsh).
In colonial India, four members of the British army believe they have hatched the perfect crime. Committing murder and stealing a princely treasure, the thieves plan to hide their spoils until completing their military service. Capping the promise to divvy up the take with a blood oath -- signed, sealed, delivered -- the conspirators are sure all is theirs. Indubitably the foursome is not quite slippery enough to evade the authorities, and soon land in prison.
Many years later in jolly old England, the mystery of the missing treasure comes to Holmes' attention when Miss Morstan (Sophie Lorain), daughter of a serviceman stationed in India, confides in the famous investigator that an anonymous person has sent her a precious pearl each year since her father's disappearance. The plot becomes more complex as Thaddeus Sholto (Marcel Jeannin) comes forward with a story about his dad, a former military man who claimed to be the owner of a great fortune but died before revealing its location. With the game afoot, it is now up to the detective duo to find the filthy lucre, solve the crime, and get to the root of all evil.
Like most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, the plot concentrates on the puzzle, although parents will want to take note that the film gets off to an intense start. Youngsters may be disturbed by the depictions of killing and the eerie frozen facial expressions on unfortunate chaps who fall victim to poisoned darts.
For your next family movie night the choice is elementary: this engaging wicked web of deception will task your deducting skills with who's good, who's bad, and why. Putting human weakness under the magnifying glass, the story examines the ultimate corruption of those gullible enough to be caught in greed's grasp.
The Sign Of Four is rated Not Rated:
Cast: Matt Frewer, Kenneth Welsh
Studio: 2001 Hallmark Entertainment