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A Study in Terror

UK 1965
produced by
Henry E. Lester, Herman Cohen (executive) for Compton Films, Sir Nigel Films
directed by James Hill
starring John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser, Anthony Quayle, Barbara Windsor, Robert Morley, Peter Carsten, Adrienne Corri, Frank Finlay, Judi Dench, Barry Jones, Charles Regnier, Cecil Parker, Georgia Brown, Dudley Foster, Christiane Maybach, Kay Walsh, John Cairney, Edina Ronay, Avis Bunnage, Barbara Leake, Patrick Newell, Norma Foster, Terry Downes
screenplay by Donald Ford, Derek Ford, based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by John Scott

Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Jack the Ripper is terrorizing Whitechapel - and Sherlock Holmes (John Neville) receives a case of surgical instruments with one knife strategically missing from an anonymous adressor. Of course, it takes him no time at all to find out that the case belonged to Michael (John Cairney), the disowned son of the Duke of Shires (Barry Jones), and that it was probably sent to him by Angela (Adrienne Corri), Michael's wife who was also a prostitute. He also has no problem to deduct that Michael and Angela were probably part of a scheme to blackmail Michael's brother, Lord Carfax (John Fraser), a scheme that had to do with Angela's very profession. Thing is, Michael and Angela have vanished from the face of the earth it seems. Holmes' investigations lead him through the seediest parts of town, and he makes the acquaintances of, among others, Murray (Anthony Quayle), doctor of the poor, and Max Steiner (Peter Carsten), a shady pubowner, who all act mighty suspicious. But it turns out that Murray has actually given abode and looked after Michael, who has turned into an imbecile after his wife got disfigured in an acid attack, and Steiner has taken good care of disfigured Angela, a woman he has honestly loved all these years as it turns out. So neither Murray nor Steiner, neither Michael nor Angela are the prostitute killer ... so who is?

Why Michael's brother Edward of course who has learned to hate all prostitutes after his brother married one, which might taint the family name. In the finale, Edward dies in a fire and Holmes decides to not reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper ...

Donald Houston plays Holmes' sidekick Watson in this one.

 

Given that the first Sherlock Holmes stories appeared at roughly the same time Jack the Ripper was roaming Whitechapel, it's not exactly far-fetched to have the detective investigating these murders - even if Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote a story to that effect. However, combining the lores of these two characters seems to be full of possibilities - but Study in Terror only succeeds in disappointing its audience: The story is unnecessarily convoluted and leads away from the Ripper murders to an extent that they take backseat, the murderer in the end is pulled out of the hat rather than logically deducewd, his motives are laughable at best, and when he dies in a fire in the finale, that's a narrative shortcut rather than anything else. Also, the directorial effort is bland and lacks action as well as atmosphere to carry the movie, and John Neville and Donald Houston never pick up steam as Holmes and Watson, and also lack anmy chemistry between them so important for the duo to work. A few of the supporting players, first and foremost the always dependable Robert Morley as Holmes' brother Mycroft, are great at least, but that's hardly enough to save the film.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD