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Murder by Decree (1979)

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

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Writers:

(characters), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chris Wiggins ...
Doctor Hardy
Tedde Moore ...
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:

The Jack the Ripper Murders. Sherlock Holmes lifts the veil of secrecy, corruption and terror at the heart of the throne of England itself. Clue by clue... Murder by murder... 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Sherlock Holmes: [to a sleeping Watson] The games afoot! No time to lose!
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Connections

Referenced in From Stereo to Video (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Cottage Industry
(uncredited)
Music by Paul Lewis
De Wolfe Music Ltd
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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.


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