Murder by Decree

Alongside Black Christmas (1974), Murder by Decree (1979) is probably Bob Clark's second most important thriller, which has also been reissued via Critical Mass/Anchor Bay/Starz on DVD. It's also the director's classiest production, boasting an amazing cast of fine British and Canadian actors, and is among the few true-quality movies produced during Canada's tax shelter film boom.

Decree has a real script, beautiful production design, and has aged into a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery, albeit with very notable differences from the better-known Basil Rathbone films. It's also a film where Christopher Plummer was given a great role, and he delivered a fine performance. 1979 was a year after Plummer's menacing work in another underrated thriller, Daryl Duke's The Silent Partner (1978)... although that same year, the actor also appeared in Luigi Cozzi's dunderheaded Starcrash, a not-so-fine film I'll cover in January. (One has to spread the pungent fromage to dilute the odor of bad filmmaking.)



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