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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) | 3 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:

Can the genius of Sherlock Holmes stop the terror of 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Peter O'Toole was originally cast as Sherlock Holmes, and Laurence Olivier was cast as Dr. Watson. But the two actors had not worked well together in the past, and were unable to overcome their differences for this film. See more »

Goofs

About 90 minutes into the film, Holmes and Watson are looking for Mary Kelly and walk past a sign with a bell-shaped logo. After a right turn and a left turn, they are shown walking under the same sign. The street is shown from a different angle and dressed up with a cart to make it seem like a different block, but it is clearly the same part of the set seen few seconds earlier even though the characters were shown to be walking away from it. 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]
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Connections

Version of A Study in Terror (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Flowers of the Forest
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer
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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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