Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Film #4 of 2010

Year: 1979

Instead of watching the new Sherlock Holmes adaptation, I went back and checked out this old classic, based on recommendations regarding superior Holmes/Watson players.

In that regard, Murder by Decree certainly acquitted itself. Christopher Plummer and James Mason nail their roles as Holmes and Watson. Couldn't have been more happy.

Now, as far as the rest of the film...

I didn't find other performances nearly as impressive, specially those by Donald Sutherland (a disappointment) and by Geneviève Bujold (a predictably overwrought displeasure). Apparently Bujold won a Genie award for her supporting role in this; not in my book.

As I watched I noticed similarities with the plot of a much more recent film, which, with some assistance, I finally realized was From Hell (2001). No wonder; they're both based on the same book. Of course, this kind of ruined the whole suspense thing. (Though naturally I don't hold this against the film). What I did object to was lapses in logic or character plausibility. A Sherlock Holmes mystery should be more exquisitely assembled.

Also, once the movie is over (or should be!), there's an entire additional 20-minute sequence where everything is explained, just in case we hadn't figured it out by, I dunno, watching it happen. Redundant and dead material. Cut!

The score is ineffective (and am not surprised that it hasn't been released). During one of those final scenes it was so tonally opposed to the dialogue it was positively distracting.

The production value is high and the directing, though a little dated, works well. The photography is splendid.

I'd say only big fans of Sherlock should look this one up. I wish Plummer and Mason had played these characters in better circumstances.

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