Murder by Decree

Released 1979




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Movie Summary

Bob Clark

1888. London is a city in fear. The brutal killer calling himself Jack the Ripper is murdering women in the Whitechapel slums. A group of Whitechapel tradesmen call on Sherlock Holmes to investigate, believing the official police enquiries are going nowhere. Despite the opposition of the authorities, Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson slowly uncover a trail that might lead to the highest reach of British government. The brusque and abusive police commissioner, Sir Charles Warren, goes out of his way to obscure and erase clues and to keep Holmes out of the picture; but the great sleuth follows a handful of clues which lead him to search for a missing prostitute, Mary Kelly, and to question a woman in an insane asylum, Annie Crooks - who may not be as mad as her doctors claim.


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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • The theory advanced by this film is a well-known one, but it has, in the years since the film's release, been almost entirely discredited.

    • This is not a remake of the 1965 film, A Study In Terror, although both films are based on the same notion, that of pitting the fictitious Sherlock Holmes against the most notorious real-life murderer of the Victorian era, Jack the Ripper (whose identity remains unknown to this day). In addition to having the same idea, both films cast Anthony Quayle as a suspect, and both films cast Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade.

    • This film was inspired by a non-fiction book, The Ripper File, which in turn was inspired by a BBC-TV documentary series of 1972. Although the authors of the book are listed in the film's credits, there is no mention there of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (and of the supporting characters of Inspector Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson).

  • QUOTES (1)

  • NOTES (1)

    • This film is officially an Anglo-Canadian co-production, made in England by a Canadian director and with Canadian producers and composers, as well as a number of Canadian actors in supporting roles, including both international stars and little-known character players. The cameraman, Reginald Morris, was English, but spent most of his career working in Canada.


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