Murder by Decree is probably the best Sherlock Holmes film since the inimitable pairing of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the 1940s series at Universal.
The film’s charm derives mainly from John Hopkins’ literal, deadpan script that makes no attempt either to mock or contemporize Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary creation.
Ironically, Christopher Plummer works against this re-creation by presenting a Holmes who looks as if he’s just returned from a Caribbean vacation. Next to James Mason, who may be the most delightful Watson ever to appear on celluloid, Plummer’s blonde handsomeness seems especially foreign.
Holmes and Watson are not called in to help solve a series of murders linked to Jack The Ripper. Anthony Quayle, as the new topper at Scotland Yard, has his reasons for excluding them, as does Inspector David Hemmings.