A STUDY IN TERROR (1965)
Article #1118 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-6-2004
Posting Date: 9-3-2001
Directed by James Hill
Featuring John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser
Sherlock Holmes finds himself on the trail of Jack the Ripper.
The fact that someone would come up with a story in which Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper seems inevitable to me; both are icons of their own types inhabiting roughly the same milieu, and the appeal of the greatest fictional detective of them all matching wits with the most notorious perpetrator of a series of unsolved murders is an irresistible concept. This isn’t the only time they’ve been set against each other, but it’s a good one. The story feels legitimately Holmesian, and the casting is exquisite; John Neville makes for one of the finest Holmes I’ve ever seen, Donald Houston plays Watson with just the right amount of stuffiness without descending into the comic antics of Nigel Bruce, and it is a treat to see Robert Morley take on the role of Mycroft. In fact, the whole cast does beautifully, especially Anthony Quayle and Frank Finlay. If the movie has any real weakness, i’d say it would be that it can’t resist the exploitational nature of the story; it spends a little too much of its running time dealing with prostitutes plying their trade in low cut gowns (which has its appeal, I will admit, but it does slow down the story). The movie’s executive producer was Herman Cohen, and it may be the finest movie he was ever involved with.