Jack. Bloodied Jack. Jack the Ripper of flesh. Jack, the phantom of London. The legend of Jack The Ripper has gone through many different incarnations. We have seen London’s fog bound serial murderer in a variety of guises and in a series of films and television. Against Michael Caine in JACK THE RIPPER, Johnny Depp in FROM HELL (based on the graphic novel), Malcolm McDowell in TIME AFTER TIME (from the novel) and previously against Sherlock Holmes in A STUDY IN TERROR. His (I say his but of course it could be anyone) crimes are infamous and as such the conversation is as broad and as complex as that of his nemesis in MURDER BY DECREE, Sherlock Holmes.

Scotland Yard have bodies piling up, with the unstoppable Jack the Ripper cutting his way through the streets of the east end. Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Plummer) and his associate Dr. Watson (James Mason) have been pulled in to help with the investigation. A trail of deadly clues lead them to gravely ill psychic (Donald Sutherland). He give evidence vital to a man and a carriage. This is dismissed by a police inspector (David Hemmings, Juggernaut) but it leads to a series of strange anomalies. An institutionalized woman (Genevive Bujold)m Prime Minister (John Gielgud) and Sir Charles Warren (Anthony Quayle), a mason and someone who adds more to the story than before.

Taking both a major literary figure and non fiction crime character is no easy feat. Both come with baggage. Holmes is central to the original notion of intelligence in criminology. The other has an infamous, nightmarish, mythology. The latter also had vast amount of what ifs and what could have been. This film was based almost completely on Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution by Stephen Knight. His book lacked a dynamic edge but presupposed a long thought (and asked ) theme. Cleverly  this is less central to the investigation and instead we are treated to a series of absurd but compelling scenes, filmed across London (or Greenwich) and peopled by the great and good.


The commentary here delves a lot into to ‘Ripper fiction’. Deliciously detailed but not heavily so. Do I like it? Yes. Yes I do.

Audio commentary with Film Journalist Kim Newman and Crime Fiction Historian Barry Forshaw
Interview with Film Journalist Kim Newman

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