Sherlock Holmes investigates when young women around London turn up murdered, each with a finger severed off. Scotland Yard suspects a madman, but Holmes believes the killings to be part of a diabolical plot.
A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
One of the last actors cast was James Mason. Director Bob Clark had to travel to Spain, where Mason was shooting another picture, to meet with him. Mason agreed to play Watson if he could make him a serious character, not the "silly ass" buffoon character which was the rule. Mason rewrote two sequences including the famous "pea scene." See more »
When Watson questions the ladies in the Black Horse Tavern a Salvation Army band is playing "Onward Christian Soldiers" in the street. But the tune "St. Gertrude" was not composed and published by Sir Arthur Sullivan until after the purported time setting of the film (1888). See more »
You create allegiance above your sworn allegiance to protect humanity. You shall not care for them, or acknowledge their pain. There lies the madness.
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"Murder by Decree" could have been one of THE great Sherlock Holmes films but suffers from problematic scenes that need to be edited or cut altogether. Outstanding art direction and recreation of London in 1888 help to salvage it. It also features winning interpretations of Holmes and Watson by Christopher Plummer and James Mason (my favorite Dr. Watson), and fine performances by a strong supprting cast. It also features one of the scariest moments I've ever seen in a film, when the black eyes of the killer appears in a tight close-up. Scary! Overall: sluggish at time, but entertaining.
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