Murder by Decree

Murder by Decree

4.6 3
Director: Bob Clark

Cast: Bob Clark, Christopher Plummer, James Mason, Donald Sutherland

     
 

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The murders by the infamous British criminal, Jack the Ripper, catch the attention of Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer), but he does not receive the expected call from Scotland Yard because he is being purposefully excluded from the investigation. Instead, Robert Lees (Donald Sutherland), a psychic who volunteered information to the police about the murders,

Overview

The murders by the infamous British criminal, Jack the Ripper, catch the attention of Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer), but he does not receive the expected call from Scotland Yard because he is being purposefully excluded from the investigation. Instead, Robert Lees (Donald Sutherland), a psychic who volunteered information to the police about the murders, provides the Great Detective with the necessary incitement to action. As the murders proceed, it becomes clear to all concerned that it is more important to stop them than to announce their solution, and Holmes enters the fray with the help of his trusty aide, Dr. Watson (James Mason). The former mistress of a "prominent personage," Annie Crook (Genevieve Bujold), provides crucial information leading to a final confrontation on London's docks.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Murder by Decree is an unusual take on both a Sherlock Holmes movie and the Jack the Ripper murders. Unfortunately, unusual is not always good. What's strangest about Bob Clark's film is that it abandons everything viewers have come to expect from a portrayal of the world's most famous detective. Christopher Plummer is a fine actor, but his Holmes is everything the iconic version of the character is not -- emotional when he should be detached, impetuous when he should be rational, morally indignant when he should follow the evidentiary path with neutral disinterest. Instead of cerebral, this Holmes is a man of action, getting into numerous dust-ups and even lunging to strangle a character he considers unjust. When Murder by Decree is not taking itself too seriously, it's taking itself too lightly, framing the relationship between Holmes and Dr. Watson (a passive and ineffectual James Mason) as whimsical fodder for a weekly buddy television series, something like Magnum P.I. The film's small scale also mimics that of TV -- Clark's team floods his locations with fog, ostensibly creating an air of mystery, but actually trying to cloak the fact that his London is just three streets on a small set, shot from different angles. Excepting a few sudden action scenes, the film is basically two hours of turgidly paced talking-head sequences, capped by Holmes prancing around a courtroom, dramatically pointing the finger of blame at every British official short of the Queen of England. Since John Hopkins' script does a poor job generating sympathy for the victims or establishing any sense of London torn asunder, it's hard to understand why Holmes is so agitated.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/15/2009
UPC:
0012236106814
Original Release:
1979
Rating:
PG
Source:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:04:00
Sales rank:
8,586

Special Features

Audio Commentary with Co-Producer /Director Bob Clark; ; Behind-the-Scenes Stills Gallery; Poster and Stills Gallery; Theatrical Trailer; ; Closed Caption

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Christopher Plummer Sherlock Holmes
James Mason Dr. John H. Watson
Donald Sutherland Robert Lees
Geneviève Bujold Annie Crook
David Hemmings Inspector Foxborough
Susan Clark Mary Kelly
Anthony Quayle Sir Charles Warren
John Gielgud Lord Salisbury, Prime Minister
Frank Finlay Inspector Lestrade
Kenney Jones Dock Guard
Chris Wiggins Dr. Harding
Tedde Moore Mrs. Lees
Terry Duggan Actor
Peter Jonfield William Slade
Ron Pember Makins
June Brown Elizabeth Stride
Hilary Sesta Catherine Eddowes

Technical Credits
Bob Clark Director,Co-producer
Dave Appleby Sound/Sound Designer
Peter Childs Art Director
Stan Cole Editor
Kenneth Ian Davis Production Designer
Rene Dupont Co-producer
Robert A. Goldstone Producer
Joe Grimaldi Sound/Sound Designer
Ken Heeley-Ray Sound Editor
Len Herberman Executive Producer
John Hopkins Screenwriter
Ariel Levy Asst. Director
Judy Moorcraft Costumes/Costume Designer
Reginald Morris Cinematographer
Harry Pottle Production Designer
Paul Zaza Score Composer
Carl Zittrer Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Murder by Decree
1. Main Titles [3:36]
2. Murder In Whitechapel [6:49]
3. Mysteries [4:47]
4. The Game's Afoot [6:45]
5. Information Please [6:34]
6. Invisible Writing [3:56]
7. Robert Lees [4:53]
8. Secret Signs [5:28]
9. Blood Ritual [2:51]
10. Intuitive Reasoning [5:18]
11. A Helping Hand [6:09]
12. The Puzzle [3:49]
13. Funeral [6:22]
14. Hospital Search [5:13]
15. In The Madhouse [3:03]
16. Annie Cook [8:18]
17. She Must Be Saved [4:11]
18. Into The Fog [5:39]
19. The Informant Unmasked [4:44]
20. Holmes And The Ripper [4:14]
21. The Star Chamber [7:53]
22. A Case of Conscience [6:59]
23. 221-B Baker Street [2:31]
24. End Titles [3:38]

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Murder by Decree 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Using a cast rich with great actors, this portrayal of the mystery of Jack the Ripper keeps you on the edge of your seat. Christopher Plummer and James Mason make a wonderful team as Holmes and Watson. The soundtrack is equally good. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is intrigued by the Whitechapel murders of 1888.
Guest More than 1 year ago
First rate cast and excellent cinematography. The chemistry between Mason and Plummer keep this movie taunt, yet filled with sly humour. Perhaps the finest Ripper movie ever made, and one of the best modern Holmes' tales... a thoroughly engrossing film, well worth the watch.
jd2i More than 1 year ago
The filmmakers really did their homework concerning the original Jack the Ripper slayings. Indeed, the film captures VERY WELL a specific theory on the identity of the ripper. To say more would spoil the ending. Very good historical fiction and a good mystery film to boot. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, the filmmakers are somewhat attentive to the details -- but they do take some liberties that might rub you the wrong way (Holmes -- with a GUN!?). While I don't think Christopher Plummer made a very good Holmes, the rest of the casting was excellent. The storytelling was, in my view, ... odd. Early on, it focused on extraneous evidence and glossed over the key items. It tightened up as the film progressed. One final note -- this is not your standard Holmes drawing room mystery. It has several bloody and violent scenes. If that kind of material is a real turn-off for you, you might want to consider something else.