IMDb > Murder by Decree (1979)
Murder by Decree
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Murder by Decree (1979) More at IMDbPro »

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

Overview

User Rating:
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Director:
Writers:
Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
John Hopkins (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Murder by Decree on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
9 February 1979 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Sherlock Holmes unveils the secrecy of Jack the Ripper - clue by clue - murder by murder. See more »
Plot:
Sherlock Holmes investigates the murders commited by Jack the Ripper and discovers a conspiracy to protect the killer. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
5 wins & 5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Vivid teaming of Holmes/Watson and Jack the Ripper See more (83 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Christopher Plummer ... Sherlock Holmes

James Mason ... Dr. John H. Watson

David Hemmings ... Inspector Foxborough

Susan Clark ... Mary Kelly

Anthony Quayle ... Sir Charles Warren

John Gielgud ... Prime Minister Lord Salisbury

Frank Finlay ... Inspector Lestrade

Donald Sutherland ... Robert Lees

Geneviève Bujold ... Annie Crook
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
June Brown ... Anne Chapman
Ken Jones ... Dock Guard
Terry Duggan ... Danny
Hilary Sesta ... Catherine Eddowes
Anthony May ... Lanier
Betty Woolfe ... Mrs. Dobson
Iris Fry ... Elizabeth Stride
Geoffrey Russell ... Home Secretary Henry Matthews
Peggy Ann Clifford ... Lees' Housekeeper

Ann Mitchell ... Jane
Katherine Stark ... Molly
Elaine Ives-Cameron ... Ellen (as Elaine Ives Cameron)
Stella Courtney ... Betty
Judy Wilson ... Emily
Roy Pattison ... Carroll
Victor Langley ... Prince of Wales
Pamela Abbott ... Princess Alexandra
Robin Marchal ... Duke of Clarence
Richard Pescud ... Doctor (as Richard Pescuid)
Pat Brackenbury ... Nurse
Dan Long ... Constable Long
Michael Cashman ... Constable Watkins
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peter Dean ... Police Constable (uncredited)
Norman Gay ... Distinguished gentleman (uncredited)
Jim McManus ... Policeman (uncredited)

Directed by
Bob Clark 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Arthur Conan Doyle  characters
John Hopkins  screenplay
Elwyn Jones  co-author (book "The Ripper File")
John Lloyd  co-author (book "The Ripper File")

Produced by
Bob Clark .... producer
René Dupont .... producer
Robert A. Goldston .... producer
Len Herberman .... executive producer
 
Original Music by
Paul Zaza 
Carl Zittrer 
 
Cinematography by
Reginald H. Morris 
 
Film Editing by
Stan Cole 
 
Casting by
Karen Hazzard 
 
Production Design by
Harry Pottle 
 
Art Direction by
Peter Childs 
 
Set Decoration by
Denise Exshaw 
 
Costume Design by
Judy Moorcroft 
 
Makeup Department
Peter Robb-King .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Peter Davis .... production manager: UK
Ted Rouse .... production manager: Canada
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
John Dodds .... third assistant director
Ariel Levy .... assistant director
Ken Roch .... second assistant director
Guy Travers .... second assistant director
 
Art Department
Percy Godbold .... production buyer
Jock Kay .... scenic artist
Adrian Start .... art stand-by
 
Sound Department
David Appleby .... sound re-recording mixer (as Dave Appleby)
Ron Butcher .... sound maintenance
Dennis Drummond .... sound editor
Patrick Drummond .... sound editor
Wayne Griffin .... sound editor
Joe Grimaldi .... sound re-recording mixer
Kenneth Heeley-Ray .... supervising sound editor (as Ken Heeley Ray)
John W. Mitchell .... sound recordist (as John Mitchell)
Don White .... foley recording mixer
 
Special Effects by
Michael Albrechtsen .... special effects
 
Visual Effects by
Cliff Culley .... visual effects supervisor
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Richard Blanshard .... still photographer
Maurice Gillett .... gaffer
Jimmy Turrell .... camera operator (as James Turrell)
David Wynn-Jones .... focus puller (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ron Beck .... wardrobe supervisor
 
Editorial Department
Ian McBride .... assistant editor
David Block .... colorist (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Frank Morrone .... music engineer
 
Transportation Department
Howard Pugh .... driver: cast
 
Other crew
Andy Birmingham .... production accountant
Marilyn Clarke .... production coordinator
S.C. Dacy .... publicist
Robert A. Goldston .... presenter
Bob Halliday .... police liaison
Marjorie Lavelly .... continuity
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Sherlock Holmes and Saucy Jack" - USA (alternative title)
See more »
Runtime:
124 min | Sweden:110 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Metrocolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The only scene employing any stunt doubles was the stagecoach scene with Christopher Plummer and Susan Clark.See more »
Goofs:
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Dr. Watson is writing on the black board, he says that Polly Nichols was the first victim, while the writing on the board says "victim #2."See more »
Quotes:
Prime Minister Lord Salisbury:You have my word.
Sherlock Holmes:[Acidly] I would prefer some more reliable authority.
See more »
Soundtrack:
Cottage IndustrySee more »

FAQ

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Vivid teaming of Holmes/Watson and Jack the Ripper, 21 March 2005
Author: Libretio

MURDER BY DECREE

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Mono

London, 1888: Whilst investigating a series of murders committed by 'Jack the Ripper', Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer) and Dr. Watson (James Mason) uncover a Masonic conspiracy which leads them to the very heart of the British Establishment.

During the summer of 1973, the BBC ran a six-part documentary series entitled "Jack the Ripper" (also known as "The Ripper File"), in which two popular fictional detectives (played by Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor) investigated the 'true' identity of Jack the Ripper, using all the evidence available to them at the time. Their conclusions form the basis of Bob Clark's all-star period thriller MURDER BY DECREE, which condenses vast amounts of information into a single digestible screenplay. The film's lavish recreation of Victorian London (extravagant opera houses, cobbled streets and miles of gloomy Whitechapel alleyways populated by hundreds of costumed extras) belies its modest $4m budget, and for once, the starry supporting cast - including Anthony Quayle, David Hemmings, John Gielgud and Donald Sutherland - seems perfectly suited to the material.

A combination of Gothic thriller and historical whodunnit, John Hopkins' comprehensive screenplay outlines the social and political divisions which prevailed in England at the time of the Ripper murders, hindering the police investigation and prompting a number of conspiracy theories which persist to this day. However, the script also contains a number of memorable character touches (the episode of the 'errant pea' is most prized by fans) which prevents the narrative from surrendering to mere facts and figures. Plummer and Mason are ideal as Holmes and Watson, though Genevieve Bujold almost steals the film during a heartbreaking sequence in which Holmes looks for clues in a crumbling asylum. You may not agree with the film's conclusions - the same evidence was re-evaluated by author Stephen Knight in his popular non-fiction account 'Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution' (1976) and David Wickes' excellent TV movie JACK THE RIPPER (1988) starring Michael Caine - but MURDER BY DECREE is generally acknowledged as one of the best Ripper/Holmes movies ever made.

Incidentally, the film's PG rating seems extraordinarily lenient. While MURDER BY DECREE doesn't exactly revel in violence, it conveys the grislier aspects of the Ripper's crimes with enough potency to warrant a PG-13 (unavailable at the time of this film's initial release).

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