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Murder by Decree (1979)

 -  Crime | Drama | Horror  -  9 February 1979 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 2,972 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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(characters), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Murder by Decree (1979)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chris Wiggins ...
Doctor Hardy
...
Mrs. Lees (as Teddi Moore)
Peter Jonfield ...
William Slade
Roy Lansford ...
Sir Thomas Spivey
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 »


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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Publicity for this picture stated that it was the 134th Sherlock Holmes - Dr Watson film. The first had been in 1903. See more »

Goofs

Holmes later refers to the cab that ran him over as a "hansom". Those were two-wheeled vehicles, and Holmes was attacked by a four-wheeler. (Sure, he's entitled to be a bit confused here, what with being injured, but then again, this is the master of observation and he would have been particular about the distinction between a hansom and a brougham). See more »

Quotes

Dr. John H. Watson: [Offended by the booing of the Prince of Wales by the theater gallery] It's a damn disgrace!
Sherlock Holmes: On the contrary. I prefer bad manners in the theater to active violence in the streets.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Ripper (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Preludio
(uncredited)
from "Partita für Violine solo Nr.3 E-Dur BWV.1006"
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Arranged by Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer
Played by Holmes on violin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
24 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In 1888 London, Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer) and Dr. Watson (James Mason) are asked by a citizen's group to find and stop Jack the Ripper. For some reason the police don't want Holmes to investigate. However he does and as the bodies pile up Holmes and Watson slowly uncover a trail that might lead to the highest reach of British government.

This was released and died VERY quickly in 1979. I'm probably one of the few people who saw it in a theatre. The critics almost unanimously praised it, it had a huge cast of good actors...but it just died. That's too bad because this is a very good Sherlock Holmes film.

It's atmospheric (LOTS of foggy streets), has exquisite production design and is beautifully directed by Bob Clark (I love the way the first murder is done--very effective). Also the acting is great. Plummer gives a very good, different interpretation of Holmes--he makes him more emotional than other actors have...but it works. Mason nicely underplays the role of Watson--he does not make him a bumbling fool like Nigel Bruce did back in the 1940s. In small roles Susan Clark, John Gielgud and especially Genevieve Bujold are excellent. Donald Sutherland, Anthony Quayle and David Hemmings unfortunately are not that good.

There are some problems with this movie though. It's too long (a long sequence involving Watson and some prostitutes could have been completely cut) and is needlessly convoluted. Also they throw politics in the plot which seems out of place. And, strangely, Holmes' deductive reasoning is almost never used. He comes across more as a protector of the people than a detective. Plummer's performance though carries it through. It's quite bloody too--not enough for an R rating but pretty strong for the PG it got back then (PG-13 wasn't a rating yet).

Reservations aside though, I think this is one of the best Holmes' film ever made. Recommended.


15 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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