World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Murder by Decree

Murder by Decree
Original film poster
Directed by Bob Clark
Produced by Bob Clark
René Dupont
Written by John Hopkins
Based on The Ripper File
John Lloyd
Elwyn Jones
Sherlock Holmes characters by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Starring Christopher Plummer
James Mason
David Hemmings
Susan Clark
Music by Paul Zaza
Carl Zittrer
Cinematography Reginald H. Morris
Distributed by AVCO Embassy Pictures
Release dates
1 February 1979 (Canada) 1979 (UK)
Running time
124 minutes
Country UK
Canada
Language English (romagnolo)
A still from Murder by Decree showing the Goulston Street graffito containing the word Juwes, which is portrayed erroneously as a Masonic term.

Murder by Decree is a 1979 British-Canadian mystery thriller film directed by Bob Clark. It features the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who are embroiled in the investigation surrounding the real-life 1888 Whitechapel murders committed by "Jack the Ripper". Christopher Plummer plays Holmes and James Mason plays Watson. Though it features a similar premise, it is notably different in tone and result to A Study in Terror. It is loosely based on The Ripper File by Elwyn Jones and John Lloyd.

The film's premise of the plot behind the murders is influenced by the book, Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, by Stephen Knight, who presumed that the killings were part of a Masonic plot. The original script contained the names of the historical suspects, Sir William Gull, 1st Baronet and John Netley. In the actual film, they are represented by fictional analogues; Thomas Spivy (Gull) and William Slade (Netley). This plot device was later used in other Jack The Ripper-themed fiction, including the graphic novel From Hell.

Contents

  • Production 1
  • Reception 2
  • Cast 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Production

The film was directed by Bob Clark. It stars Christopher Plummer and James Mason as Holmes and Watson, respectively, and presents a largely different version of Holmes from the Rathbone days, with the aesthete still prevailing, yet tinged with a humanity and emotional empathy. James Mason's Dr. Watson is also a departure from previous incarnations. Although he may appear at first to resemble the bumbling Nigel Bruce version of the character, he soon shows his level head and scientific and medical training to be as valuable assets as they were in the original stories. The supporting cast includes Donald Sutherland, Susan Clark, John Gielgud, Anthony Quayle, David Hemmings and Geneviève Bujold. Frank Finlay plays Inspector Lestrade, a part he had previously portrayed in the similar 1965 film A Study in Terror in which Quayle likewise played a supporting role. Plummer had earlier portrayed Holmes in 1977's Silver Blaze.

Reception

The film was nominated for 8 Genie Awards in 1980, of which it won 5, including Best Achievement in Direction (Bob Clark), Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Geneviève Bujold) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Christopher Plummer).

Vincent Canby, writing in the NY Times in February 1979, gave the film a positive review;

The film, directed by Bob Clark, based on an original screenplay by John Hopkins, makes use not only of the theory that Jack the Ripper was actually the Duke of Clarence, son of Queen Victoria, but also of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who are apparently in the public domain, or at least available for assignments outside the works of Arthur Conan Doyle. With Christopher Plummer as a charming, cultivated Holmes, a fellow who reveals himself to be a man of unexpected social and political conscience, and with James Mason as an especially fond and steadfast Watson, "Murder by Decree" is a good deal of uncomplicated fun, not in a class with Nicholas Meyer's "The Seven Percent Solution," but certainly miles ahead of many other current films that masquerade as popular entertainment. Mr. Hopkins's screenplay is funny without being condescending, more aware of history, perhaps, than Conan Doyle's mysteries ever were, but always appreciative of the strengths of the original characters and of the etiquette observed in the course of every hunt.[1]

Cast

See also

References

  1. ^  

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.