Murder by Decree [1979]

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Murder by Decree has the distinction of being not only one of the best Sherlock Holmes films, but one of the best pastiches (i.e., a Holmes fiction created by someone other than author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) featuring the late-Victorian Era detective. Christopher Plummer is very good as Holmes, and James Mason redeems the many mishandled screen portrayals of Dr. John Watson with a rare, insightful performance. The story may not be unique in post-Doyle Holmes adventures--the private investigator pursues Jack the Ripper during the latter's reign of monstrous murders in foggy London--but the script by John Hopkins (Thunderball) is keenly intelligent, developing concentric circles of power and evil with great subtlety. Before losing himself in Porky's, director Bob Clark did a masterful job of surprising audiences with Murder by Decree, convincing viewers they were watching one kind of drama but then unleashing something very different, very unsettling. --Tom Keogh

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