Murder By Decree [Import]
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Sherlock Holmes hunts his deadliest adversary – the madman known as Jack the Ripper! When Scotland Yard is unable to stop the gruesome rampage of Jack the Ripper, a citizens' committee asks Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer) and his trusted associate Dr. Watson (James Mason) to investigate. Now the brilliant pair must follow a terrifying trail of clues that includes a frightened psychic (Donald Sutherland), a suspicious inspector (David Hemmings), an institutionalized woman (Genevieve Bujold) and the Prime Minister of England (Sir John Gielgud). But even if Holmes' remarkable powers of deduction can unmask the maniacal fiend, can he and Watson face the most shocking secret of all? Find out in this masterful suspense thriller directed by Bob Clark (A CHRISTMAS STORY) that both fans and critics have called the most exciting and original Sherlock Holmes movie ever made.
Murder by Decree has the distinction of being not only one of the best Sherlock Holmes films, but one of the best pastiches (i.e., a Holmes fiction created by someone other than author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) featuring the late-Victorian Era detective. Christopher Plummer is very good as Holmes, and James Mason redeems the many mishandled screen portrayals of Dr. John Watson with a rare, insightful performance. The story may not be unique in post-Doyle Holmes adventures--the private investigator pursues Jack the Ripper during the latter's reign of monstrous murders in foggy London--but the script by John Hopkins (Thunderball) is keenly intelligent, developing concentric circles of power and evil with great subtlety. Before losing himself in Porky's, director Bob Clark did a masterful job of surprising audiences with Murder by Decree, convincing viewers they were watching one kind of drama but then unleashing something very different, very unsettling. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Irrespective of whether you believe this to be the `solution' to the Ripper mystery (based on Stephen Knights' book `The Final Solution'), this film is the best version of the Ripper story to date in covering most of the established facts as well as setting the story in the context of the concern in Victorian England at the time with the rise of the Radicals. This is down to the intelligent screenplay by John Hopkins (whose script for Sidney Lumet's `The Offence' was one of Sean Connery's best films) who cleverly makes sure that every scene conveys at least one piece of information to help set the story in its proper context.
If that isn't enough, this film also possesses a wonderful eerie atmosphere by the bucketloads thanks to Harry Pottle's sets, Judy Moorcroft's costumes, Carl Zittrer and Paul Zaza's music and Reg Morris' photography (especially the distorted wide angle shots portraying the first person view of the Ripper). Of course anyone who has seen Bob Clark's earlier `Black Christmas' will recognise the same directorial flourishes which Clark uses here. It is hard to believe that Clark's later career was marked by such films as `Porky's' and its ilk as he shows such a great touch here that he should have continued to make films like this rather than the teen comedies which he is best known for.Read more ›
The transfer is clean, colourful and well-detailed. The anamorphic picture looks nice on my 16x9 TV, so those of you with similar TVs can order this disc knowing that the presentation is truly anamorphic and not letter-boxed.
The film postulates the fateful encounter between the Sherlock Holmes/Watson duo (Christopher Plummer & James Mason, both excellent in their roles) and Jack the Ripper, or more accurately, the conspiracy BEHIND Jack the Ripper. The forces, both social and economic, at work in London in the late 1800's are explored fully and to great effect by Director Bob Clark, who is perhaps best known for directing the perennial Holiday Favorite "A Christmas Story". A film about Jack the Ripper may seem like an odd fit for Clark, but he handles the film well, and gets some great performances by the cast, including John Gielgud, Frank Finlay, Genvieve Bujold, and Susan Clark; They're all phenomenal in their parts. Plummer's Holmes seems more human than most other cinematic depictions I've seen, and Mason brings an almost unheard-of degree of professionalism and dignity to the oft-maligned role of Watson, who is usually depicted as a bufoon onscreen. The film suffers slightly from a score which doesn't seem to fit the sinister visuals at all; The music is too old-school, and seems to have been lifted from a cheesy 1940's melodrama.
The DVD comes with an informative booklet, one of my favorite features of Anchor Bay's DVD line. The DVD itself includes commentary by Director Clark, an extensive photo and poster/ad gallery, and Biographies of Clark, Plummer, & Mason. The film transfer is gorgeous, as usual for Anchor Bay. Murder By Decree is probably the best Sherlock Holmes film I've ever seen, and will make a welcome addition to any Mystery/Thriller fan's DVD collection.
It is inevitable that someone would pit Holmes against Jack the Ripper sooner or later. Holmes made his literary debut around the same time as the Ripper, but Conan Doyle never put him on the case (because Sherlock would have to SOLVE the case and, of course, the Ripper's identity is still a mystery). In this version, fictional characters like Lestrade mingle with real-life characters like Sir Charles Warren - historically, a man whose incompetence hindered the capture of the Ripper. At this point in history, Holmes and Watson would have been comparatively young men at the start of their careers. Christopher Plummer (Holmes) and James Mason (Watson) are middle-aged and elderly, respectively. However, both actors are so fine that it is a pleasure to watch them act. James Mason - an underappreciated actor today - brings the dignity to Watson that Conan Doyle bequeathed him (this character is usually played as a dunce for comic relief). Christopher Plummer plays a humanist Holmes that would have been a tad unfamiliar to Conan Doyle - at one point, Holmes breaks down in tears, something the literary character would NEVER do. Even though Basil Rathbone will always own the part, Plummer plays him as a real person and not a caricature.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
It could have been much better but still the DVD is about Sherlock Holmes and it gives us an answer? About who could have been Jack the ripper ...Published 1 month ago by denis deslauriers
Remember this film when it first came out. Watch it every year or soPublished 8 months ago by airbears
One of the - if not THE - best retellings of the MASONIC Jack the Ripper murders. All the murders were done to Masonic specifications. Read morePublished 17 months ago by D
A great classic with great actors. The plot is intricate keeps you guessing throughout the whole movie. A must have for Sherlock Holmes fansPublished 23 months ago by Jamie
I had seen this movie probably when it first came out and certain scenes had stuck in my mind. My memory had not played false and they were just as memorable and some were just as... Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2014 by LindaCharlton
Christopher Plummer gives a lot of value to the movie. The story is just like any other murder stories. While quite entertaining, there are parts that leave much to be desired.Published on Jan. 26 2014 by JimmyC