This film derives from a non-fiction book, "The Ripper File", by two television scriptwriters, John Lloyd and Elwyn Jones, who, in turn, took it from their scripts for a TV documentary series, "Jack The Ripper", in the early 70s. The gimmick of the series was that the Ripper murders were examined, not by real-life experts, but by two fictional TV detectives, Barlow and Watt (played by Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor), central characters in the long-running "Z Cars" series, to which both Jones and Lloyd had contributed. A third writer for that series, John Hopkins, also wrote the script for "Murder By Decree". See more »
When Holmes is going to the meeting in the masonic lodge at the end, he first passes Buckingham Palace, which may have been on his way from Baker Street. He then seems to have crossed the Thames, because in the next picture he approaches Westminster Palace from the south side of the river, effectively re-crossing it. This detour hardly makes sense. 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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This is a remarkable little movie that has never reached classic status for some reason. Aside from an incredible cast, all of whom suit the dignified proceedings admirably, there are two other stars who lift this film above the level of an excellent thriller. One is the production design. The old Hollywood style of foggy streets and dark alleys, with sinister cabs skulking along, is the stuff nightmares are made of. The East End is horrible, a hell on earth. The other unsung hero is the music. A beautiful soundtrack which ranges from chilling strings and harps to the charming end music. Christopher Plummer is fabulous as Holmes, heroic and ingenious but with a strong sympathy which no other actor in the role apart from Jeremy Brett has captured. His scenes with Mason are a joy; the pair really work together, complete with catchphrases and a mutual respect. Donald Sutherland is also captivating as Robert Lees...his eyes are those of a man living in helpless terror. The film's finest moment is the scene between Holmes and Annie Crook. Genevieve Bujould is heartbreaking in the role,a perfect piece of casting despite her accent, and Holmes' reaction to her plight is deeply moving. Make no mistake, the theory of the Ripper murders is barmy, but wonderful entertainment. It does slander Sir Charles Warren and Lord Salisbury unbelievably; Anthony Quayle puts in a gloriously over the top turn in repulsive corruption. There is an interesting subtext to the film as well, namely the fight between decency and corruption. Annie's innocence and goodness is uncorrupted even by her plight, and the decency of Mary Kelly is a ghost that hangs over the last half an hour. The end credits are beautiful, with gorgeous theatrical and old-fashioned cast and credits, such as "Frank Finlay was Inspector Lestrade." There is decency in the most unlikely of places, and Holmes and Watson are the solid rocks while around them people sink and swim in the chaos. A moving, brilliantly realised and frightening film.
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