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DVD Review

DVD cover

Murder by Decree


Starring: Christopher Plummer, James Mason and David Hemmings
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 02 April 2012

Jack the Ripper’s murders catch the attention of Sherlock Holmes but he does not receive the expected call from Scotland Yard because he is being purposefully excluded from the investigation. Instead, Robert Lees, 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. The former mistress of a “prominent personage”, Annie Crook, provides crucial information leading to a final confrontation on London’s docks...

Murder by Decree (1979) stars Christopher Plummer as Sherlock Holmes and James Mason as Dr. Watson as they are enticed into tracking down and unmasking the man who would become known as Jack the Ripper. If you've seen From Hell (2001) then you'll already have all the ingredients to enjoy Murder by Decree - but via a slightly different angle.

The movie also stars Frank Finlay (as Inspector Lestrade), Anthony Quayle (as Sir Charles Warren), Donald Sutherland (as Robert Lees) and John Gielgud (as the Prime Minister). There's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance by June Brown (who fans of Eastenders will better know as Dot Cotton).

The transfer isn't overly good, with the picture retaining a lot of dirt and scratches from the original film print. Also, on a number of occasions, a series of blue lights plague the picture. It's such a shame that a full restoration job couldn't have been undertaken.

Murder by Decree is far from a classic movie, but it does have its moments, and Mason is well cast as Watson.

There are no extras.


Nick Smithson

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