Murder by Decree

Murder by Decree
Murder by decree poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBob Clark
Written byJohn Hopkins
Based onThe Ripper File
John Lloyd
Elwyn Jones
Sherlock Holmes characters by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Produced byBob Clark
René Dupont
StarringChristopher Plummer
James Mason
David Hemmings
Susan Clark
Anthony Quayle
John Gielgud
Frank Finlay
Donald Sutherland
Genevieve Bujold
CinematographyReginald H. Morris
Music byPaul Zaza
Carl Zittrer
Distributed byAVCO Embassy Pictures (in the United Kingdom through Columbia-Cannon-Warner Distributors[1])
Ambassador Film Distributors (Canada)[1]
Release date
1 February 1979 (University Theatre, Toronto)[2]
Running time
124 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish (romagnolo)
Budget$5 million[3]
Box office$1.9 million (Canada)[4]

Murder by Decree is a 1979 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 somewhat 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 (1976), 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 and John Netley.[5] In the actual film, they are represented by fictional analogues: Thomas Spivy (Gull) and William Slade (Netley).[5] This plot device was later used in other Jack the Ripper-themed fiction, including the graphic novel From Hell.

  1. ^ a b "Murder by Decree". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  2. ^ "'Hollywood' opening set for Toronto". The Globe and Mail. 24 January 1979. F.13.
  3. ^ Lee, Grant (13 January 1979). "FILM CLIPS: Canadians Shooting for the Big Leagues". Los Angeles Times. p. b10.
  4. ^ "Canada-Only B.O. Figures". Variety. 21 November 1979. p. 24.
  5. ^ a b Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 121–126. ISBN 9780857687760.

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