'A Study in Terror' [Blu-ray]
(John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser, Anthony Quayle, Barbara Windsor, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1965) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Three of 19th Century England's most famous characters come together for the first time in this sumptuous, exciting mystery, as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson set out to bring down history's most notorious serial killer: Jack The Ripper!
Blu-ray Verdict: Sherlock Holmes, the brightest and most eloquent of all fictional detectives ever, on the trail of Jack The Ripper, the beastly London serial killer whose crimes mainly became notorious because they never got solved.
It seems like such an obvious concept to process into a Victorian horror screenplay, and yet only two movies (at least, to my knowledge) are dealing with the topic of a showdown between these two legendary figures.
I have yet to see the other one –'Murder by Decree,' but I can already safely say 'A Study in Terror' is a hugely entertaining and ingeniously scripted film that respectfully blends the stylish trademarks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works with the much more fiendish ambiance surrounding the case of the Ripper's murders.
Fundamentally, this means we're treated to all of Sherlock Holmes's witty remarks and fabulously far-fetched deduction skills as well as to grim and surprisingly nasty images of sadistic murders.
Holmes becomes involved in the case of the murdered prostitutes when an anonymous individual mails him a surgical kit missing one item, which is the deadly scalpel.
Thanks to his amazing investigating talents, carefully observing senses and with a little help from his loyal friends Dr. Watson and police inspector Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes does not only figure out who Jack The Ripper is; he also reveals a related blackmailing network and boosts up the lackluster reputation of the condemned Whitechapel area!
The Ford brothers' screenplay is rather confusing and doesn't always make sense, but the dialogs are extremely fluent and instantly cause you to overlook possible holes in the plot. Besides, you aren't supposed to guess along for the Ripper's identity, as Sherlock Holmes is always several steps ahead of you anyway.
Speaking of which, John Neville easily is one of the finest British lads ever to depict Doyle's super-detective! He's actually second only to Basil Rathbone, who portrayed Holmes 14 wonderful times in Universal's cycle.
Neville plays Sherlock Holmes with the exact right doses of arrogance and sophistication, and he knows how to defend himself in a physical battle as well as in a verbal discussion.
Donald Houston is almost equally brilliant as the slow but helpful Dr. Watson and there's a tremendously fun little role for Adrienne Corri as the eerily mutilated Angela Osbourne.
In closing, 'A Study in Terror' also masterfully captures the Victorian atmosphere with lavish set pieces, colorful interior filming locations and the enthusiast music, sung in the poor man's tavern. Watch this tonight with friends and talk about it tomorrow at work. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.