year is 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorising London's
East End by murdering prostitutes. The one man capable of
solving these grisly crimes is the super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.
His only clues are the locations of the killings and a mysterious
box containing a selection of surgical instruments and bearing
the crest of a well-to-do family...
like the tagline on the cover of this DVD: "For the first
time ever, Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper". It makes
it sound as though the pair of them have since got together
on a regular basis! "Morning, Ripper." "Morning, Holmes."
an exaggeration, yet writers Derek and Donald Ford and director
James Hill would not be the last ones to pit the most famous
fictional criminologist of the Victorian age against the most
infamous criminal of that same era. In the late 1970s, the
movie Murder by Decree (starring Christopher Plummer)
and the novel The Last Sherlock Holmes Story (by Michael
Dibdin) would do exactly the same thing.
Study in Terror is a better Sherlock Holmes story than
it is a Jack the Ripper story. Though the detective's deductive
reasoning is strongly in evidence, and he is well portrayed
by John Neville (The X-Files, The Adventures of
Baron Munchausen), details of the real-life Ripper case
are few and far between. Whereas both Murder by Decree
and The Last Sherlock Holmes Story make good use
of the notorious letters and graffiti that were allegedly
written by the Ripper, Holmes sees only one letter from the
killer in this movie.
rest of the cast includes some real star names of British
cinema, such as Anthony Quayle as Dr Murray (he would go on
to play a different character in Murder by Decree),
Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade (he would reprise the role
in Murder), Barbara Windsor (no doubt checking out
the environs for her future East End role) and Judi Dench.
As Dr John Watson, Donald Houston doesn't really get much
of a chance to shine, since there is very little for the good
doctor to do, with Holmes taking the lion's share of the action.
However, Robert Morley is perfect in both appearance and manner
as Holmes' cleverer but indolent older brother Mycroft - he
and Sherlock exchange some entertainingly snide banter.
only extra is the original theatrical trailer, but then one
doesn't expect many special features on such a cheaply priced
DVD. Far less forgivable is the quality of the main feature
itself, the film print of which, in the typical style of Fremantle
releases, has not been cleaned up or restored in any way at
all. There's some particularly bad film damage in evidence
there's plenty to enjoy if you're a Holmes fan - that is,
if you can believe anything that the actor who played Baron
Munchausen and The X-Files's Well-manicured Man says!
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