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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:
...
...
...
Inspector Foxborough
...
Mary Kelly
...
...
...
Inspector Lestrade
...
Robert Lees
...
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:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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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

When Spivey shoves Stride's body out of the carriage, she moves her arms to break her fall. See more »

Quotes

Sherlock Holmes: Watson, what are you doing?
Dr. John H. Watson: I'm trying to corner the last pea on my plate.
Dr. John H. Watson: [Holmes squashes the pea] You squashed my pea.
Sherlock Holmes: Well, now you've got it cornered.
Dr. John H. Watson: Yes but squashing a fellow's pea.
Sherlock Holmes: Just trying to help.
Dr. John H. Watson: I didn't want it squashed, I don't like it that way - I like it whole so that you can feel it pop when you bite down on it.
Sherlock Holmes: Sorry, I wasn't thinking.
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Connections

Referenced in From Stereo to Video (2014) 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

 
Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
24 December 2006 | by 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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