A Study in Terror (1965) – reviewed by George

Despite the subject matter, this is a beautiful movie – the sets, the costumes, the color photography. The production design was by Vetchinsky, the set dresser was Helen Thomas, the costumes were by Motley, and the director of photography was Desmond Dickinson.
Someone wants Holmes (John Neville) involved in the quest for Jack the Ripper and has sent him a doctor’s gladstone bag with a set of surgical instruments inside, lacking only the surgical scalpel – the murder weapon. Holmes cheerfully accepts the challenge, and he and Watson (Donald Houston) dive in, visiting public houses, a doctor’s digs, the halls of government, the police department, the home of a duke, etc. As the murders continue on a regular basis, Holmes identifies several suspects including: Dr. Murrey (Anthony Quayle), who aids the police by doing autopsies but also runs a hospital in Whitechapel for the people there, Max Steiner (Peter Carsten) who runs a pub in Whitechapel and maintains a group of prostitute-thieves within the pub, and Michael Osborne (John Cairney) the long-missisg son of the Duke of Shires (Barry Jones), thought to be insane, who has been seen around Whitechapel.
He is also looking for Angela (Adrienne Corri), the wife of Michael. He doesn’t believe she is a suspect, but he is sure she knows where Michael is.
The Prime Minister (Ceil Parker) wants Holmes on the case and so he calls Mycroft (Robert Morley). Mycroft thinks he is wanted to solve the murders, and is surprised, to say the least, when he finds he is wanted to enlist Sherlock to solve the case.
The movie begins with a murder, then the credits, and then The Singer (Georgia Brown) doing a rousing interpretation of “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay”. She has a lot of energy, and the crowd joins in. Instantly you start worrying about her; she’s a Guest Star and could have a very small part. But the focus shifts to a barmaid being fired for stealing for herself, not the house. Max throws her out into the street. Okay, you think, the next victim is this girl. But now we see a girl locked out of her lodgings for failure to pay. She wanders about to her various friends’ places to try to get some money. There’s a lot of suspense and dread, and one of these three girls will be the Ripper’s next victim.
Other recognizable faces: Judi Dench plays Sally, Dr. Murrey’s sister; Frank Finlay plays Insp. Lestrade; and John Fraser plays Lord Carfax, the other son of the Duke of Shires.
I had an interesting shock while watching.  The names of the “canonical five”, that is the five victims who are generally considered to be the Ripper’s victims out of the eleven brutal murders that were committed during that time, are used for the victims in this movie.
This is really suspenseful and I liked it a lot.
Original Story and Screenplay by Donald & Derek Ford, Directed by James Hill.

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