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Murder by Decree (1979)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 3,003 users  
Reviews: 83 user | 53 critic

Sherlock Holmes investigates the murders commited by Jack the Ripper and discovers a conspiracy to protect the killer.

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Title: Murder by Decree (1979)

Murder by Decree (1979) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chris Wiggins ...
Doctor Hardy
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Mrs. Lees (as Teddi Moore)
Peter Jonfield ...
Roy Lansford ...
Catherine Kessler ...
Carrie
Ron Pember ...
Makins
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Storyline

Sherlock Holmes investigates London's most infamous case, Jack the Ripper. As he investigates, he finds that the Ripper has friends in high places. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sherlock Holmes hunts his deadliest adversary... The madman known as Jack the Ripper! See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

9 February 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes and Saucy Jack  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Masonic signs Holmes makes to the Chief Inspector are: the Duegard of the Entered Apprentice (right hand palm down over left hand palm up), the Sign of the Entered Apprentice (drawing the right hand from left to right across the throat), a variation of the Real Grip of a Master Mason(the handshake with the thumb and little finger extended), and finally the Sign of a Fellow Craft (drawing the right hand across the body from the left breast to the right hip). The Signs all refer to the penalties associated with the divulging of the Order's secrets to outsiders, i.e., having the throat slit and the chest opened and the heart torn out. The Duegard refers to the gesture of holding the Bible during the initiation ritual in the left hand, with the right resting upon it. See more »

Goofs

In the final dialogue scene between Holmes and Watson after the Whitehall interview, Holmes is depicted using his right hand to bow four notes on the free-standing upright violin on the desk. He purports to play middle B, E and D followed by treble E on open strings - but it is impossible to play a B natural on an open A string. The A string's pitch must be raised to B by a finger stop for the dubbed sound to be physically possible. The open string pitches are tenor G, middle D, middle A and treble E. See more »

Quotes

Sherlock Holmes: [Reacting to the tardiness of the Prince of Wales] I suppose since, after all, he's only the Prince of Wales, we should not expect the same degree of courtesy.
Dr. John H. Watson: And since you are the Prince of Detectives, Holmes, I don't think you should presume to criticize a man who one day will be King of England.
Sherlock Holmes: [amused] Well done, Watson! You have cut me to the quick. Hmm! Only the Prince of Detectives, you say? Then who, pray tell, is the King?
Dr. John H. Watson: Lestrade, of course.
[Holmes laughs]
See more »

Connections

Version of Seven Murders for Scotland Yard (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

A Wand'rin Minstrel
(uncredited)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Arranged by Keith Papworth
De Wolfe Music Ltd
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User Reviews

 
Not your typical type of Sherlock…
27 July 2010 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Several sources, including a loud and proud quotation on the DVD-cover itself, claim that "Murder by Decree" is the best Sherlock Holmes movie ever made. Like most opinions are, this is highly debatable. Me personally, for example, I'm a big fan of the 1940's Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone as the superiorly intelligent detective and Nigel Bruce as his goofy sidekick Dr. Watson. Some of the entries in that franchise, like "The Scarlet Claw" and "House of Fear" to name just two, are near-brilliant and, in my humble opinion, even better than this film. One fact that remains inarguable, however, is that "Murder by Decree" is the most special and unclassifiable Sherlock Holmes movie ever made. The script actually takes the fictional characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle and places them amidst all the convoluted speculations and grotesque conspiracy theories surrounding the mystery of the unsolved Jack the Ripper murders. "A Study in Terror" was the first attempt to blend the characters of Holmes and Jack the Ripper, nearly fifteen years earlier in 1965, but Bob Clark's film digs a whole lot deeper and makes a lot more efforts to come across as plausible and convincing. "Murder by Decree" is a unique Sherlock Holmes film for yet another reason, namely the depiction of our heroic protagonists. Christopher Plummer portrays the most humane Holmes in history, with a regular sense of humor instead of witty remarks that ooze with superiority as well as feelings sadness and compassion. He even wipes away an emotional teardrop at one point! On the other hand, there's James Mason illustrating the most anti-stereotypical Watson ever, as his lines and contributions are sharp and savvy instead of silly. Sherlock Holmes is called in for help by the Whitechapel store owners after the third Jack the Ripper murder. The crimes are despicable and the locals fear that the police aren't making enough efforts to capture the killer since the victims are "only" prostitutes working in a poor London neighborhood. Thanks to his amazing investigating talents, careful observing senses and stupendous deductive skills, Holmes gradually uncovers a complex conspiracy that almost solely involves elite culprits like politicians, Freemasons and even British royals. He has to operate with extreme caution, though, as his investigation might lead the Ripper to more targeted victims. The script of "Murder by Decree" is clever. Too clever, in fact, as I presume you're not even supposed to guess along for the Ripper's identity. Holmes is always several steps ahead of you and the film ends with a long monologue in which the detective explains the entire murderous scheme – in great detail – to a trio of eminent conspirators. Although puzzling, the story remains fascinating and absorbing the whole time. Bob Clark, a multi-talented genre director especially in the seventies, also masterfully captures the exact right Victorian ambiance. The film is literally filled with dark and foggy London alleys, uncanny old taverns and marvelous horse carriages. I only detected a couple of minor details, actually, and they're mainly personal opinions. The film doesn't properly epitomize the "horror" of the Jack the Ripper case (hardly any nasty images or sinister moments) and the sub plot revolving on Donald Sutherland as a paranormally gifted witness affects the credibility in a negative sort of way.


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