Plummer had already played Holmes in the little-remembered “Silver Blaze” when he reprised the role two years later in Murder by Decree, but that 1979 film is the one that became a cult favorite. In Decree, Holmes and Watson (James Mason) investigate the Jack the Ripper case, only to find that the killer may be too well connected ever to be brought to justice.
Plummer’s Holmes proves to be not just a walking crime-solving machine but a man of unexpected social conscience, while Mason’s Watson, for once, doesn’t have to stretch to humanize Holmes. It’s also rare to see a Holmes and Watson who are older (Plummer was 49, Mason 69) and who have to rely almost entirely on brains and charm.
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