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Murder by Decree (1979)

 -  Crime | Drama | Horror  -  9 February 1979 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 2,877 users  
Reviews: 82 user | 50 critic

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

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(characters), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: Murder by Decree (1979)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Chris Wiggins ...
Doctor Hardy
...
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:

Sherlock Holmes unveils the secrecy of Jack the Ripper - clue by clue - murder by murder. See more »


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:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Masonic signs Holmes makes to the Chief Inspector are: the Duegard of the Entered Apprentice (right hand palm down over left hand palm up), the Sign of the Entered Apprentice (drawing the right hand from left to right across the throat), a variation of the Real Grip of a Master Mason(the handshake with the thumb and little finger extended), and finally the Sign of a Fellow Craft (drawing the right hand across the body from the left breast to the right hip). The Signs all refer to the penalties associated with the divulging of the Order's secrets to outsiders, i.e., having the throat slit and the chest opened and the heart torn out. The Duegard refers to the gesture of holding the Bible during the initiation ritual in the left hand, with the right resting upon it. See more »

Goofs

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

Dr. John H. Watson: [Offended by the booing of the Prince of Wales by the theater gallery] It's a damn disgrace!
Sherlock Holmes: On the contrary. I prefer bad manners in the theater to active violence in the streets.
See more »


Soundtracks

A Wand'rin Minstrel
(uncredited)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Arranged by Keith Papworth
De Wolfe Music Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

"There is still decency." A marvellous film.
4 September 2000 | by (London) – See all my reviews

This is a remarkable little movie that has never reached classic status for some reason. Aside from an incredible cast, all of whom suit the dignified proceedings admirably, there are two other stars who lift this film above the level of an excellent thriller. One is the production design. The old Hollywood style of foggy streets and dark alleys, with sinister cabs skulking along, is the stuff nightmares are made of. The East End is horrible, a hell on earth. The other unsung hero is the music. A beautiful soundtrack which ranges from chilling strings and harps to the charming end music. Christopher Plummer is fabulous as Holmes, heroic and ingenious but with a strong sympathy which no other actor in the role apart from Jeremy Brett has captured. His scenes with Mason are a joy; the pair really work together, complete with catchphrases and a mutual respect. Donald Sutherland is also captivating as Robert Lees...his eyes are those of a man living in helpless terror. The film's finest moment is the scene between Holmes and Annie Crook. Genevieve Bujould is heartbreaking in the role,a perfect piece of casting despite her accent, and Holmes' reaction to her plight is deeply moving. Make no mistake, the theory of the Ripper murders is barmy, but wonderful entertainment. It does slander Sir Charles Warren and Lord Salisbury unbelievably; Anthony Quayle puts in a gloriously over the top turn in repulsive corruption. There is an interesting subtext to the film as well, namely the fight between decency and corruption. Annie's innocence and goodness is uncorrupted even by her plight, and the decency of Mary Kelly is a ghost that hangs over the last half an hour. The end credits are beautiful, with gorgeous theatrical and old-fashioned cast and credits, such as "Frank Finlay was Inspector Lestrade." There is decency in the most unlikely of places, and Holmes and Watson are the solid rocks while around them people sink and swim in the chaos. A moving, brilliantly realised and frightening film.


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