HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Herself
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Candyman
Power of the Dog, The
StageFright
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Old
Prince of Nothingwood, The
Gagarine
Mr. Jones
Enfants Terribles, Les
   
 
Newest Articles
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
   
 
  Murder by Decree Right Royal Rumpus
Year: 1979
Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Christopher Plummer, James Mason, David Hemmings, Susan Clark, Anthony Quayle, John Gielgud, Frank Finlay, Donald Sutherland, Geneviève Bujold, Chris Wiggins, Tedde Moore, Peter Jonfield, Roy Lansford, Catherine Kessler, Ron Pember, June Brown, Ken Jones
Genre: Thriller, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: At London's Royal Opera House, the famed detective Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer) and his faithful companion Dr. Watson (James Mason) are out for the evening, though Holmes is growing impatient with the amount of time it is taking the Prince to arrive so the the entertainment can begin. Eventually the Prince deigns to enter the Royal box, but the reception is not entirely a welcome one as the audience in the Gods make no secret of their displeasure with him. Watson is shocked, and rallies the others to drown out the jeers and boos, but as this is going on a murder is being committed which the crimefighting duo will be drawn into solving...

There's a message during the end credits of this film that proudly announces that its plotline is based on the latest theories about the identity of Jack the Ripper, for that is who Holmes and Watson are pitted against here. They had faced him before in a different screen adaptation, A Study in Terror, but the concept proved irresistable and producer-director Bob Clark came up with a film that was pretty lavish in its depiction of Victorian London. So why did Murder by Decree come across as a big budget television special? Was it because Arthur Conan Doyle's creation belonged on the small screen?

More likely it was because the plot was not really opened up and tended to take place in locations that were not above the money of the B.B.C. or I.T.V., and the overall impression is that a lot more imagination than the simple "Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper" way in to the story was necessary to make the drama and thrills take off and fly. Clark had proven himself adept at suspense before, but here his efforts seemed hampered by John Hopkins' stuiffy script, with only Plummer really putting in the work to bring some life to the production.

Unfortunately, he came across as miscast (Peter O'Toole, the original choice, would have been more interesting), and the attempts to render a compassionate Holmes are a little embarrassing. When our hero visits a poor soul (Genevieve Bujold) banished to an asylum as part of a huge conspiracy, he ends up in tears and flinging himself at the establishment's director in rage, not exactly the manner in which most people want their Sherlock to behave. Plummer also gets to prove his man of action credentials in a near-climactic tussle that would not be out of place in one of the regular James Bond movies.

Although it's a neat idea, I wonder how good a match the classic detective and the real life serial killer are, for they are at odds with each other. The reason the Ripper endures in both history and fiction is that he was never caught and therefore comes with a lot of baggage about nineteenth century social hypocrisy, the failings of the authorities and plain and simple chills. Holmes on the other hand always solved his cases, and so here has to be crowbarred into a plot where he has to pretend he has not uncovered the scheming that brought the killings to prominence and has to keep his mouth shut, all less than satisfying. Not only that, but every male guest star is saddled with some remarkable wigs and facial furniture to act through, which can be a distraction. Murder by Decree is a nice try, but does not do justice to either real life or fiction. Music by Paul Zaza and Carl Zittrer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 5619 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Bob Clark  (1941 - 2007)

American born, Canadian-based writer, producer and director with a varied career, he rarely stopped working in the industry from his 1970s horror Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things onwards, with cult classics like chiller Deathdream, Black Christmas (the first of the North American slasher cycle), Murder by Decree (a Sherlock Holmes mystery), sex comedy Porky's and its sequel, and A Christmas Story (a cult comedy that has become a seasonal favourite) all winning fans. He was responsible for such derided films as Rhinestone and the Baby Geniuses movies as well. At the time of his death in a car crash he was working on a remake of ...Dead Things.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: