7.0/10
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89 user 49 critic

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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A serial killer is murdering women in the Whitechapel district of London. An American policeman is brought in to help Scotland Yard solve the case.

Directors: Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman
Stars: Lee Patterson, Eddie Byrne, Betty McDowall
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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:

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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only scene employing any stunt doubles was the stagecoach scene with Sherlock Holmes and Mary Kelly. 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

Prime Minister Lord Salisbury: You have us at a disadvantage, Mr. Holmes. I think it might be better if you tell us your story in your own way and permit me to be the judge of whether it is true or not.
Sherlock Holmes: [Assertively] You may take it to be true, sir!
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Connections

Version of Jack the Ripper (1976) 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
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User Reviews

 
Forget the later versions -- this one is the best.
27 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I happened across this film recently and found it to be a superb forerunner to FROM HELL which was filmed many years later. To be frank, this version is a lot more believable. It impressed me deeply because of the excellent depiction of the cramped, narrow, damp and winding back streets of Whitehall, all shrouded in permanent fog, and with a queasy, chromatic musical score to alert you that not all is well and dark deeds await.

The characters are believable and well played: Plummer underplays Holmes when so many other actors take him over the top: James Mason is an earthy, skeptical Dr. Watson whose blusterings are amusing without ever become a pain in the tail; we have a cooperative and good-natured Lestrange, a suitably shell-shocked Mary Kelly, and Anthony Quayle puts in not only an incredibly gruff and abrasive performance as Scotland yard's Charles Warren, but also wins the movie's bizarre-makeup award. Donald Sutherland also modestly underplays his role as the sickly psychic with a mustache that Wyatt Earp would have envied. And of course, the unmasked villains are suitably sinister and reek of the madness being perpetrated on the panicky London slum.

Also deserving a nod are John Gielgud and others who play high government officials with the proper stuffy condescension and total disregard for "inferiors" of whatever class or religion, putting the stability of the monarchy far above those the ruling class are supposed to be caring for. It's hard to visualize Holmes an an insurrectionist, but if this was not the appropriate situation, nothing would be.

This film would merit a 10 out of 10 except for the peculiar character played by David Hemmings, who seemed out of place to begin with and brought too much attention to himself as someone to keep an eye on, as if he were a walking clue for the more inattentive viewer. Good performance, just an awkward and blatant addition to the story characters.

Forget the drug-hazed and farcical Johnny Depp character of FROM HELL: rather, watch the clear-headed relentless Holmes take on Saucy Jack with such a fervency that he overlooks more hidden, sinister forces attempting to steer him towards satisfying their own ends....


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