|MURDER BY DECREE (director: Bob Clark; screenwriter: John Hopkins/Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; cinematographer: Reg Morris; editor: Stan Cole; music: Carl Zittrer/Paul Zaza; cast: Christopher Plummer (Christopher Plummer), Donald Sutherland (Robert Lees), Genevieve Bujold (Annie Crook), James Mason (Dr. John H. Watson), Anthony Quayle ( Sir Charles Warren), John Gielgud (Lord Salisbury), David Hemmings (Inspector Foxborough), Frank Finlay (Inspector Lestrade), Susan Clark (Mary Kelly); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Len Herberman; Ambassador (MGM); 1979-UK-Canada)|
|"One of the
more imaginative Sherlock Holmes films."
by Dennis Schwartz
the more imaginative Sherlock Holmes films. Veteran
filmmaker Bob Clark's ("Breaking
Point"/"Porky's"/"Rhinestone") best film. It's a
thriller about the alleged cover-up of the Jack the
Ripper serial murder case in Victorian London. The
John Hopkins' script is a solid literary adaption from
the Arthur Conan Doyle book.
foggy London master sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Christopher
Plummer) is urged by the local
anti-royalist merchants to investigate on his own the
monster brutally murdering prostitutes in
London's West End with surgical knives. Holmes
does this while decked out in his deerstalker cap and
thoughtfully puffing away at his cancerous pipe. He
impresses his delightful loyal assistant Dr.
Watson (James Mason) with his power of deduction.
Meanwhile Scotland Yard's new politically
connected superintendent, Sir Charles
Warren (Anthony Quayle),
suspiciously refuses to use Holmes's services.
uncovers that key politicians, Freemasons and royalty
all have knowledge of the murders but are keeping
hush. This takes him on hansom cabs
over the cobblestone streets as he treks to brothels
and madhouses for answers.
Sutherland is funny as a kooky psychic, playing the
part of someone the Yard actually used in the real
case. Genevieve Bujold excellently
plays a suspect. She's the discarded
mistress of a noble, now placed in an asylum, who
provides crucial info.
makes for a fine Sherlock, except he wears one or two
disguises I could have done without. The first-rate
supporting cast also deserves kudos .
problem with the pic is that it goes on for too long
without the material to support that. Otherwise the
ambitious film does a great job connecting history
with fiction, and adds its voice to the conspiracy
theory believers over the handling of the Jack
the Ripper case.
REVIEWED ON 8/9/2015 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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